Is Passivity The Problem?

There is nothing wrong with anything, really (apart from illegal things and things that are evil or unjust or horrible, but you know what I mean). Eating junk food is fine in small doses. Watching TV reruns is fine, at times. Sex with a stranger; lying; skipping a workout; wearing joggers all week…

I think these things, and many other things, only really become a problem when they are done passively.

Passive means: “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.”

The opposite of passive is active. When we are actively doing things, we are aware of the fact we are doing them. We have intention behind our actions. This is something I speak about often and believe in wholeheartedly. It is fine for me to order a pizza from Dominos, as long as I’m doing it intentionally. Now you might be thinking, isn’t that just as bad, if not worse because you’ve actively decided to eat something “bad” for you? I argue no. Here’s why…

Mindlessness is dangerous. Not knowing why or how you do things is scary. It means you’re not in control of your life. You’re on autopilot; a dead fish pushed by the current…right off a cliff.

I don’t think, by the way, that we can or should be completely active all the time, and never passive. I’m just saying that perhaps the percentages need to be closer to like 75-25% or even 80-20% with passivity being the lower end.

It worries me when people say, “I just fell into this job or this relationship.” Or, “I put on loads of weight and have no idea why.” Or whatever else. It means you let something big happen to you, without any awareness of it at all.

And so, it is better that you do things knowingly, intentionally, with awareness. To eat the pizza knowing its bad for you, because you’re less likely to do it often. You’re less likely to make yourself feel bad afterwards because you decided to do it even after thinking it through. You already let yourself off the hook before even doing it. You reasoned with yourself that it was okay. Maybe you said, “I haven’t had takeaway food in a while and I don’t feel up to cooking, so this is okay.” That’s fine!

There’s a lot of nuance that goes into this (as with everything, regardless of what the internet may suggest), but my point that I want to share with you as inspiration for this week is to consider what you do passively. And why that might be…

Do you:

  • Reach for the snack drawer a little too often
  • Skip your workouts all the time
  • Take short cuts at work or in your home
  • Leave the cleaning for “another day”
  • Say things out of anger, tiredness, bored, jealousy etc.
  • Dress in the slumpy outfit again
  • Watch Friends for the millionth time
  • Scroll on your favourite social media app endlessly
  • Buy the same foods from the supermarket every week
  • Forget to call your mom or friend, again
  • Let people offload their problems onto you without you realising that’s what they’re doing
  • Go on your phone first thing in the morning or last thing at night
  • Share things that are important (disasters in other countries, BLM posts, hate crimes etc) on social media without really thinking about it, researching, having an emotional reaction, or acting on the information you’ve consumed

I for one want an active life, and no, I don’t mean becoming a runner or a hiker or something! I mean I want to choose my life. To look back and know I choose what I have, for better or worse. That way, I can’t point the finger elsewhere. I can’t beat myself up for not trying or whatever else. That I didn’t get married just because I was asked, but because I wanted to and knew it was right for me. That I didn’t stay in a job I wasn’t happy with for years and years, but instead actively looked for better or upskilled so I could get better. That I didn’t let moments of free time pass by, again and again, where I could have been writing a novel that could one day set me on a different path in my life.

We can’t perfect our lives and secure everything we want, sadly. But passivity is definitely one road to securing a life you did NOT pick for yourself. So choose to be an active character in your story! Choose your adventure, don’t get pushed along on someone else’s.

To do this week:

  • Set a goal to work towards before the end of 2021
  • Think before you act a little more (not so much that it’s paralysing, this isn’t good either! Balance, bro!)
  • Ask yourself: what am I CHOOSING in my life, versus what am I passively ALLOWING in my life?

There will always be things we do passively. Our brains need to take a break and run on autopilot for a while. But it’s dangerous to do so too often. If you’re finding that you have mostly passive days, I would question why. Why don’t you actively make decisions about what you should do or say? Perhaps you’re feeling low or depressed right now, in which case passivity is normal and I hope it will pass soon. Either way, be kind to yourself and look after yourself by CHOOSING more than ALLOWING.


S. xx

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