How does one reclaim their sassiness? Is sassiness even the right word? Am I simply looking to be confident, secure, assured, and whole, from which I can enjoy a bit of humor and cheekiness? No matter, this is a power that has been long locked away in my being since childhood, largely from “showing off” my God-given talents and getting razed for it by disciplinarians at school. I reeled in fear of being wrong in their eyes and hurting my peers. I gave up. It was safer. I tamed my spirit to one of agreeableness and absolute respect. I internalized everything that had a shred of truth to it so I could learn from it. I became a perfectionist inside and out. We all had events like this from our past. It was part of growing up. But how did your own events change you?
Lingering Effects Of The Past
People have strong reactions or weak reactions to adversity, largely influenced by how a person processes anger and resolves inner conflict. In some people a negative form of sassiness can arise, often stemming from a defensive posture and an acutely formed sense of justice. That sense of justice can be a product of:
- past wounds and triggers keeping us in a state of emotional and identity duress
- a damaged perception of reality and a victim mentality
- our own ego protecting our various personal insecurities
- a warped self image (seeing oneself as flawed or damaged or vulnerable)
- low self esteem
- a distorted sense of self-worth, belonging, or competency
- a lack of understanding of how to communicate preferences and needs in interpersonal relationships
- a continual feeling of isolate and loneliness due to not being able to connect or receive from others, or feeling like your inner experience (heart, emotions, and personal identity) are truly validated
- an inability to be our own person (an immature wholeness)
Do you feel sassiness is defensive in nature? Do you know others who seem to be sassy in an unhealthy way? Or do you recognize that others are just sensitive and are sassy in an attempt to offer some resistance or act tougher than they feel? Sensitive people can become dependent on how others treat them and often base their own actions and self-concepts on the relative environment. This compensation (in behavior) is not entirely bad because it contributes to higher empathy and is part of emotional intelligence; but, there needs to be a boundary put in place between the outside world (and our perception of it) and our own beliefs about our self and our worth. Without such a boundary, we are unstable in all we do. Our well-being will be dependent on both the real and perceived meanings behind others’ actions, opinions, beliefs, emotions, attitudes, tones, responses, and behaviors. When dependent on others for approval, will feel judged and under the authority of their every whim.
Because perception plays such a critical role in our own reactions, we have a part to play in our responses, no matter how dependent on others we feel. We are capable of holding our own beliefs and self concept; this is something we can control. This is part of being a powerful and responsible person. Our sense of self should never rest in external dependence on something/someone out of our control.
Inner Struggle for Personal Definition
As we begin to sever the ties of dependence on others for our self-concept, we may begin to experience two conflicting states. We begin to act from a powerful position of ownership for ourselves. This however can create an inflated sense or need of entitlement, independence, and self-sufficiency while our ownership is forming. Additionally, even if we own our self-concept, what do we base it on? As we seek a new foundation, we’ll be torn between what we previously held from others, what we perceive about our experience and selves through our own lens, and what we are supposed to know based on fundamental truths. This can create a testing or power struggle to try and prove out what is right and wrong. If the conflict fails to resolve well, or if it fails to satisfy a sense of justice or an equal power balance, additional instability and insecurity may follow. The conflict may continue until the point where we can simply rest in our own belief, wean from our dependence, and learn to smile and fill ourselves with love.
Sassiness Is A Balance
I used to believe that sassiness was a slippery slope and nothing but a minefield of death and broken spirits. Perhaps this is why I have left this power alone since it was buried. With any hint of fear, sassiness becomes a mask and defense mechanism that fuses insecurities into every expression, which creates a sense of psuedo-vulnerability – far from the real thing. Sassiness can create barriers and causes people to perform and position themselves in a place where a sense of pride creates a reward that offsets the fear of being truly open and seen.
Personally, I was afraid of going back to boldness because it’s a tough balance between sassiness and outright hubris. It requires a tight rein on anger and pride. One must still be sensitive to boundaries and fairness both within ourselves and in relationships with others. With abundant character and proper self-awareness and others-awareness, sassiness can be used vivaciously. For mature individuals, sassiness must be accompanied by an authentic ability to change gears and show utmost compassion and humility. Sassiness – at its core – requires a healthy disposition, a broad perspective of the world, and trust in yourself and love for others. There cannot be any fear.
A New Definition
I believe that a positive form of sassiness is more aptly described as playfulness. Sassiness often tears at another person where as playfulness may bump or bruise, but never cuts. A playful heart is whole and not striving to prove or perform. A spirit of playfulness invokes a valiant charm, encouraging others to release themselves from self-consciousness and into freedom. Playfulness doesn’t defend but asserts itself by simply being and smiling. A playful relationship loves mightily in abundance, presenting itself whimsically like whips of fresh air amidst a sunny sky. Playfulness is warm, wholesome, and uplifting. In playfulness, there is no fear. Playfulness rejoices.
To those of you living in fear of sass and recovering from it (like I was/am for so many years), know that there are good and honest people out there living in freedom and goodness without any mal-intent. We all desire to be free and productive citizens pushing the boundaries of human capabilities and expression. To all my playful friends out there, thanks for loving on me and giving me a chance to reclaim my valiant spirit. I was lost and now I am found. God restores.
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Shine brightly my friends.
P.S. The book in the picture is awesome, though difficult to read