A bunch of comments here centered around what to do in this situation:
A man cancels on you.
He hasn’t called even though he said he would or you hoped he would, or he makes a date and then doesn’t call to confirm or show up, or he cancels a Saturday night date, or you’ve been planning to meet for months, and he keeps getting held up by work, or his children, or, in the case of Linda G – illness (here’s one of her comments around this – and you’ll see all the responses and advice offered, especially by Mercedes).
Mercedes gave advice that was EXACTLY what any one of us would be feeling in the the situation and WANT to say to him, and she also said that I might find her course of action to be “Passive-Aggressive.”
I want to reply to all the comments and then jump off…
So – what is “passive-aggressive?”
Basically – it’s the opposite of “the Truth.”
And telling anything but the Truth will ball up your insides.
Aggressive means you are leaning forward, you have strong feelings, it encompasses a feeling of force, passion, anger, rage, exhilaration…aggression is ACTION, and it’s often propelled by hurt, desire for revenge, fear, a need to control a situation.
Passive means NO ACTION. So, here you are in a state of Action and No Action.
How can this be?
In a basketball game, you’re supposed to be “aggressive.” You “foul” the other team’s player sometimes in your action trying to get the ball to the basket. And yet, you are in control. You don’t go around hitting other players when you’re feeling especially aggressive and frustrated – so you either handle your aggression, or you “trash-talk.” if you can’t find a suitable way to be aggressive without breaking the rules – you can’t play.
If you want to play basketball, and you know you can’t push and shove your way to the basket – but the NEED and the IMPULSE to push and shove is stronger than your love of the game, and so you instinctively hold back on your aggression (don’t shoot when you have the opportunity, pass the ball rather than take control of it, don’t run into the crowd under the basket to try to get one in when you have the ball – you’re not going to be able to play. You’re going to hold yourself back. Is THIS passive-aggressive? No.
What if you feel the need to push and shove and make things happen out there on the floor, but hold yourself back because you’re afraid of fouling or breaking the rules – but the tension of that is too much for you, and so you yell at the umpires and the other players, you argue with them, you tell everyone what they’re doing wrong that’s preventing you from getting the ball in the hoop. Is THIS passive-aggressive? Yes.
Is it passive-aggressive to refrain from hitting someone when you’re really, really angry? No.
Is it passive-aggressive to say or do nothing at all when you’re really, really angry or excited? No.
is it passive-aggressive to SMILE at someone when you’re really, really angry? No, if that’s all you do.
Is it passive-aggressive to SMILE at someone and refrain from hitting them when you’re really, really angry and to TELL them what they did to make you so angry? Yes.
Passive-aggression is not just STUFFING your feelings. When you stuff down your feelings and smile when you feel murderous – that’s still just stuffing. The damage is being done inside you, in the cells of your body, in your mind, in your heart. It’s aggression turned inward. It results in depression and illness and stress and tension and emotional and physical damage.
Passive-aggression happens when we’re stuffed to the gills with our feelings, and we can’t stuff anymore, and we just have to do SOMETHING with them, to keep them from spilling out, and we do it in the only way we know, the only way we’ve seen, the only way we feel reasonably safe.
Passive aggression happens when we are stuffed to the gills with our feelings from our whole lives, and so when we’re triggered, we have to take ACTION to keep them from spilling out.
We call it passive-aggressive because it IS aggressive.
It could be complaining. It could be a nice letter telling someone what you think. It could be gossip. It could be fouling hard in the basketball game when you really don’t need to, because you’re still upset over the last call. It can be violence in a way that we hope doesn’t LOOK like violence.
It could be feeling intense sexual desire for a man, or passion for a political cause, or rapture when you see a sunset – and yet feeling that expressing those feelings by spontaneously kissing someone or screaming out at a meeting, or throwing yourself on the ground and looking up at the sky would be inappropriate, and doing something ELSE instead. Something like “teasing” the man, or quickly criticizing him. Or saying something nasty about the “opposition.” Or turning your back on the sunset and complaining in your head about the kite-flyer who’s in your way.
It could be telling a man who is saying “No” what you think about him saying No.
And – who cares if we’re passive-aggressive? I mean, what’s so bad about that?
Passive-Aggressive means you are FEELING ANGRY, but you choose to be reasonable, or pleasant, or nice, or teacher-like, as though you are lecturing.
It means, at bottom, that you’re focused on someone ELSE’S behavior – on what they’ve done and your opinion and even feeling ABOUT it, how it’s landing with you…all that. It is essentially not an expression – it’s a DEFENSE. It’s a kind of revenge. It’s a way to let off some steam without really touching what the anger is all about – while still staying in some zone where you feel okay about yourself (nice, pleasant, good, smart…)
And the ultimate effect is that it does damage to YOU. It gets you riled up. It accentuates your disappointment, and it makes you feel scuzzy because you KNOW you’re just talking about another person – and here – without even KNOWING the other person, really – and that you’re not even telling the truth about YOURSELF!
Below all the anger and disappointment and frustration is Love. The intense DESIRE to love. for the basketball player, it’s the love of the game. The feeling of exhilaration he or she has for PLAYING the game. For you and I, here, it’s the love of romance, of relationship, of connection. It’s the love of Love.
And we have to work out, in ourselves, how to tend our often boiling-over soup pot of emotions in a way that serves our love of Love. This is how we get the love we want.
Otherwise, we stay stuck in the tending.
This is where compassion helps you and judgment hurts you. Compassion for you, and compassion for everyone and everything else. And why Boundaries are necessary if you’re to go to the fullest in love and compassion.
You may be, like Mercedes, really really good at this Boundary stuff. Well – to take a step further – imagine what you could do if your boundaries were really so strong that you wouldn’t feel the need to reach out across the space that’s between us and another person and tell them ANYTHING?
What if you didn’t have to do ANYTHING to TEND to your emotional soup except be with it and speak from it?
What if you could just sit with your feelings and then let them out in a way that’s not “passive,” and that’s not “aggressive” either. (Linda G – you did this in your email version. You wanted to make contact, you wanted to respond, and you wanted to walk that wire between anger and disappointment and a desire for compassion and love.)
We want to find the place that’s not merely the easy answer – ASSERTION. (Remember Assertion Training for Women? – We can talk about that later, too…) We want to find that place that’s EXPRESSIVE.
Let’s let that concept just sit for a bit. To be neither passive, nor aggressive, nor even concerned with being assertive – but to focus on being expressive.
Let’s look at another side of this – the part that triggers us to be passive or aggressive or passive-aggressive:
If someone says to you that they are unable to be with you because they…can’t (sick, tired, overworked, exhausted, too poor, children, job, time, feeling unattractive because they’re sick, or wanting you to come to them and mother them when they’re sick…) then…they can’t.
Makes no difference if it’s “can’t” or “won’t” – and I think that’s what this discussion is about.
The answer then is always…”Sorry you ‘re (overworked, sick…), I’ll miss seeing you, and thank you for letting me know, and I have to go now (and go do something amazing from your Channeling list)…
Doesn’t matter if THEY’RE telling the truth, doesn’t matter WHAT they’re doing…the actual thing that’s happening is they are saying NO to you, you have feelings around that, and you have the urge to communicate your feelings around it.
But what you do in the face of a NO can make a huge difference in your life.
Gathering all this energy in response to a NO is very draining to your system. You can spend your life responding to NO’s – preparing for NO’s. We gear up our bodies and our hearts for Nos – and yet so many of us court them.
We put ourselves in places constantly where No’s will happen (we choose to be models or actors when we actually have more energy around rejection than we do around our love for acting or modeling, and sometimes that makes all the difference in terms of success).
We love men who don’t live anywhere near us and test the fragile bonds of connection 24/7 – hoping the magic will hold.
It’s not possible to love Love more than we feel pressed to continue our draining habits of tending to our emotional soup without loving OURSELVES most of all.
And so WE have to practice saying NO. Once WE can say no, we can start to look all the other “No’s” out there square in the face and be okay.
“Okay, so he doesn’t want to call me.”
“Okay, so he doesn’t want to see me.”
“Okay, even though the sex was fantastic, he still calls me his ‘friend.’”
“Okay, I feel riled up, my soup is in an uproar, I feel pain and hurt and disappointment and…so…
***...this doesn’t feel good.”
This doesn’t feel good.
This is your easiest, clearest way to express your feelings about getting a No.
Try saying it to yourself, and then use riffing and all your other Tools to get connected to your Soup, to get connected to your compassion for yourself, which is inextricably and forever attached, no matter how much we’d like it not to be true – to everyone else, including a man who’s wronged you or simply said “No” to you.
Go spontaneously kiss a tree, get on your feet and yell “Bravo” in a theater, and really, really look at the sunset in companionship with the kite-flyers.
No is just one more step to Yes. Keep on your road to Happy Ever After, and don’t let anyone hold you up. If he can’t or won’t walk with you – just keep walking. There’s plenty to see, plenty to feel, and so much love inside you to express and attract even more love.
Next, I’ll be talking about building Romance in your life…