“My marriage is over,” he said, as we sat in an old hole-in-the-wall restaurant eating breakfast. My friend was broken as he began to tell me the details of the past couple of years of his marriage. Over and over, he kept saying, “I just became passive,” as he talked about letting his kids run the house and letting work get away from him. He was frustrated with himself.
He stopped taking action and leading his family and defaulted to just letting things happen around him—that’s passivity. Being passive as a husband and father leaves a void in your family that will be filled by something eventually. We don’t like to let the world walk over us or by us, yet too often we fall into passivity. In order not to be passive, we should understand how it happens. Here are 5 reasons some of us become passive men.
1. Childhood Experiences
Most boys grow up being encouraged to suck it up and suppress their feelings. When this becomes a learned behavior, our response to emotions becomes passivity. If as a child, becoming passive worked to help avoid the situation, we default to that behavior as an adult. Maybe your parents restricted you from making choices on your own. Whatever our childhood looked like, we can learn to reject passivity. Can you recall events in your childhood where being passive was a defense mechanism?When we don’t push back against our fears, we become passive.
When we don’t push back against our fears, we become passive. It’s OK and natural to be afraid of rejection, disappointment, and looking weak. However, we can’t let our fears shackle our feet or shut our mouths from being the men we are meant to be. Fighting fear can be simplified by identifying if it is an actual threat or something we have made up in our minds. What are your biggest fears as a man?
If we experience failure, our confidence and pride take a hit. Instead of pressing on after failure, we become passive men, not wanting to be seen as a failure or feel pain. Failure has the power to motivate or to demoralize our voice and our actions. We can’t let it dictate our future. When was the last time you had a failure? How did you respond?
4. Communication Struggles
Sometimes, we don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when it’s appropriate to say it. Because of that, our default can be to just be silent and passive. Even when we don’t want to be silent, not knowing how to communicate makes us passive. So we get told what to do, where to go, and how to do things. How has your silence turned into passivity in your day-to-day life?
We all face pressure in different ways and from different angles. Pressure can be paralyzing when we don’t know what to do. We have pressure from work and our coworkers to perform and accomplish our jobs. We have pressure from friends and family to meet expectations. Also, we sometimes put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. With the pressures we face, it becomes very easy to put our hands up and just become passive and go with the flow. Where are your pressure points and how do you respond when you feel them?
Sound off: What are the reasons you become passive?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What does it mean to take initiative?”