Have you ever wondered what it is that keeps you in a state of passivity every day? You usually know exactly what you need to do, but lack the energy, motivation, or willpower to do it. You know you need to stop being passive, but how do you do it?
You are not by yourself. Being passive can trap you in a rut that is difficult to break free from. This article will shed some light on your situation by not only examining how to stop being passive, but also the finer and more important details about what causes passive behavior, as well as an important distinction between positive and negative forms of passive behavior.
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What Motivates Passive Behavior?
Passive behavior is frequently the root cause of people feeling stuck at work or in their lives. It happens when your life situation is unhappy, but all you “actively” do about it is complain. This, of course, makes no difference. In this sense, passive behavior leaves people feeling stuck, hopeless, and miserable for the vast majority of their lives.
Passive behavior can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but three of the most common are as follows.
Perhaps the most common and obvious cause of passive behavior is a lack of motivation. Motivation, in the traditional sense, leads to action. When you're motivated, you go out and accomplish your goals. When you are not motivated, you do not act.
You might wake up one morning wanting to get in a good, long, satisfying workout, so you go to the gym. You may not feel motivated on another morning, or for a number of mornings in a row. As a result, you don't get any exercise.
It's okay not to be motivated and to not always do what you set out to do. It is a natural part of the ebb and flow of life and all of its contents. However, it is a myth that motivation must come before action. The secret of successful people who appear to be “always motivated” is that they are aware that this is a myth. They also understand that, in most cases, action precedes motivation.
Do you still not believe me? You've probably seen it a few times yourself. You forced yourself into your workout gear and then felt instantly ready to go. You forced yourself to start writing a report, and then you're in full flow. You forced yourself to go out with friends for one drink and ended up having the time of your life. Then comes action, followed by motivation.
Motivation can sometimes lead to action, but motivation comes and goes. Motivation that follows action, on the other hand, is always under your control. It may seem counterintuitive, but whenever you are feeling unmotivated and passive, simply do something. Anything. And, in most cases, motivation and productivity follow closely behind.
Goals are lacking
Another common cause of passive behavior is the absence of any meaningful goals to strive for. If your life consists of going through the motions, doing the same boring tasks every day, and eating the same type of food, not only will it feel like Groundhog Day, but it will also eat away at your life energy. Anyone who has encountered similar patterns will be able to relate.
When your only goal is to get through the day or make it to the weekend, you are wasting a significant portion of your life. Discovering and developing meaningful goals in your own life can drastically alter everything.
Ideally, because you spend so much of your time at work, you should begin by establishing some meaningful goals for the work section of your life. You can strive to create something amazing and valuable for your customers, or you can brainstorm ways for your company to become more integrated into the community. There are several approaches to setting meaningful goals at work. If you really can't find any, you could set a goal of finding a place or line of work where you can.
Fortunately, life does not revolve solely around work. Meaningful goals can be spread across all aspects of life and interests. Maybe you set a goal for yourself to start a local football team in your neighborhood. Perhaps you volunteer for a cause that is dear to your heart.
Meaningful goals almost always involve other people, and this kindness, generosity, and good-will grows not only in others and your community, but also within you. The development of these qualities in your life will inevitably lead you out of your passive behavior.
Paralysis of analysis
You may be surprised to learn that anything requiring analysis is one of the leading causes of passive behavior. However, it is this “analysis paralysis,” which occurs to varying degrees in different people over time, that is a major contributor to passivity and, ultimately, not getting what you want out of life.
Because of the infinite sources of information available to us via books, websites, podcasts, YouTube, and so on, analysis paralysis is extremely common in the modern era. As a result, a child who didn't know any better would probably spend hours upon hours watching YouTube videos, studying textbooks, and analyzing various expert's opinions on how to ride a bike rather than simply getting on one and learning through experience.
In many other areas of life, you are likely to fall into the same trap as the child. Before you take any action, you want all experts to agree on something. Before you begin, you should memorize the instructions from beginning to end. Before you try something for yourself, you want a 100 percent guarantee that it will work from start to finish. Of course, that guarantee never materializes, and you remain in the same position.
Forget about it all. Your brain is wonderful for many things, but it is more likely to keep you stuck in the same place than to move you forward toward your goals. It will give you ten reasons why you shouldn't do something for every one that you should. Listening to your intuition is crucial at this point. There are numerous examples of people living extraordinary lives and accomplishing truly wonderful things because they followed their intuition rather than their “intellectual impulse” to have all of the details figured out first.
Not only is experience the best teacher, but it is also the most direct path to experiencing, learning from, and enjoying reality. Everything that happens in your head is a projection. Reality is whatever actually occurs. Spend less time reading about bikes (which is passive behavior masquerading as active behavior) and more time riding your own bike.
Is it a bad thing to be passive?
As mentioned briefly in the introduction, it is critical to understand what is meant by “passive” in this article. We're talking about passivity and how it relates to things like boredom, frustration, unhappiness, feeling stuck, and so on. The passivity we're referring to is living a relatively unhappy existence and doing nothing to change it.
However, being passive is not always a bad thing, and while the positive meanings of being passive aren't the focus of this article, they are worth mentioning so that you don't avoid passivity entirely.
Passive can also refer to things like peace, contentment, and even creativity and inspiration. It is extremely rare for someone who is constantly active to produce anything original without becoming completely burnt out. Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, and many other great people throughout history have placed a high value on stillness, reflection, and the “good” form of passivity.
There is an important distinction to be made between passivity that causes unhappiness and passivity that is used in intervals to take your life to the next level. However, in this article, we will concentrate on the former.
How to Get Rid of Your Passive Attitude
Now that we've established some of the causes of passivity and the various faces of passivity, it's time to look into ways to stop being passive (in the negative sense) and start looking for effective ways to bring more happiness into your life.
1. Be proactive rather than reactive
Stop reacting to other people and situations as soon as they occur is one of the most effective ways to stop being passive. Your first reaction is rarely the best course of action, but it is a deeply ingrained habit of all humans to respond angrily to anger or to see an unexpected situation as much more of a problem and struggle than it actually is.
You can stop being reactive and start being proactive. In this regard, the best thing you can do is, paradoxically, to simply watch your reactivity as much as possible. In what situations do your emotions rise to the surface and cloud your judgment? How do you react when things don't go as planned? The more attentive you are and the more honest you are, the less automatic your reactions will be and the more proactive and effective your responses to situations and people will be.
You can also try to imagine various scenarios for how things might unfold in the future. Consider what could go right and what could go wrong so you can anticipate and plan your action ahead of time. However, forecasting the future can be difficult, which is why I always recommend starting with yourself.
2. Think about the future while acting in the present.
Closely related to the preceding point, while you can never accurately predict the future, it is always useful to consider how it might play out. What objectives do you wish to achieve? What kind of circumstances do you want to have in your life? What obstacles might arise, and how can you avoid them or deal with them effectively?
Considering all of these questions, as well as any others that are personal to you, will provide you with an excellent foundation for action.
You can now return your full attention to the present moment from this position. It's important to think about the future, but don't live there because it doesn't exist. The only thing that exists is the present moment. You can only take care of what is directly in front of you. Concentrate solely on taking care of them, one thing at a time, and your entire future and life will fall into place.
3. Deal with the Emotional Aspects of Passivity
As we discussed earlier when discussing lack of motivation and its direct influence on passivity, the reason you are passive is most likely due to your belief that you must be motivated before you can take action.
Being passive, unmotivated, uninspired, or any other great word with a “un” in front of it is frequently an emotional issue that needs to be addressed. Addressing the issue may simply entail taking action and allowing motivation to follow. It could be associating something emotionally rewarding (a treat of some kind) with an action you want to take that, for the time being, isn't emotionally rewarding in and of itself.
Before you can truly step out of being passive and into the life you want to live, there is usually some sort of emotional gap that needs to be bridged.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on being passive, where it comes from, how it keeps your life stagnant, and what you can do about it.
As you are aware, reading about how to ride a bike does not teach you how to ride a bike. Even more deceptively, it is inaction disguised as action, because you know deep down that you just need to do it.
The transition from passive to active living is identical. You've read this article, you know what you should do… now go do it!
On the other side, your new life awaits you.
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