September 30, 2019
Word of the Week: Responsibility
Nothing gets under my skin more than passive-aggressiveness. It’s that unsettling feeling when what someone says doesn’t match their body language or energy. I think it bothers me because it requires me to expend extra energy trying to unpack the subtle messages and navigate the undertones of how I think someone is actually feeling about something. It leaves me drained.
As part of my journey to reclaim my power, I’ve been working hard at not taking responsibility for other people’s emotions and experiences. I am tired of spending my precious energy trying to decipher the hidden code beneath the things people say. It’s something I’ve been doing unconsciously since I was a child (before I had any boundaries). Now that I’ve stepped fully into the healing profession, it’s become apparent that I’ve been “on duty” for most of my life. To that end, I’ve decided I am no longer available to piece together someone’s passive-aggressiveness.
This transition has not been easy. I am noticing that some people are used to me playing the guessing game and are becoming resentful when, for example, I take them up on their offer to do something that they didn’t actually want to do in the first place. When someone then responds to me in a passive-aggressive way, it can sometimes catch me off guard and make me feel like I did something “wrong.” But when I think about it more, it makes me angry. Why does our society encourage people to say what they think you want them to say instead of what they actually mean?
Passive aggressiveness, and resentment in general, often flares up when boundaries have been crossed. The thing is, people can’t predict your boundaries for you. And it’s not their responsibility to. It’s up to you to feel into your own limitations and learn how to express your needs. Even if your partner, friend, or coworker has a high EQ (emotional intelligence), they cannot intuit what you are feeling (nor is that fair of you to ask).
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly no saint in the passive-aggressive department. Learning how to self-soothe, practice tolerance, and express my needs is something I work on daily. We can all play a bigger role in taking responsibility for our own emotional experience. The true sign of maturity is when you stop relying on others to do your inner work for you.
Ask Yourself: How comfortable are you expressing your needs? Do you swallow your frustrations, mask your discomfort with a smile, or say “yes” when you mean “no”? Or are you able to be honest with someone about your true feelings?
Weekly Mantra: I have the courage to express my needs.