- Today I was thinking about the word passive aggressive. There was one time in my life that I’d never heard of the word. Yet in the dictionary, 15 years ago, if I had looked it up, it would have said “see Amee”.
What is the real definition anyways? Passive-aggressive behaviors are those that involve acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive. Passive-aggressive people regularly exhibit resistance to requests or demands from family and other individuals often by procrastinating, expressing sullenness, or acting stubborn.
According to Wikipedia, examples of passive-aggressive behavior might include avoiding direct or clear communication, evading problems, fear of intimacy or competition, making excuses, blaming others, obstructionism, playing the victim, feigning compliance with requests, sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and hiding anger.
Another example would be people who are afraid to say “No”. It’s fear driven most of the time. Have you ever asked a friend for a favour and they said yes. But after awhile they change their minds and are too afraid to be upfront. So they become bitter and gossip. This is an example of a hidden problem. Sometimes it stems from our childhood or a number of experiences where it wasn’t acceptable or safe to say no. And so people learn to express themselves in a behind the scenes manner.
Oh they may add baby oil to your glasses cleaner solution bottle, or contaminate your toothbrush. They may turn the clocks forward in the house to get you out of bed earlier and off to work. In a past relationship where it wasn’t safe to say no, it was a safety issue, an insecurity. So I was the queen of passive aggressive. So I recognize it when I see it.
Then after confronting and examining my behaviour and realizing it was just hurting me by not standing up and having a voice, I was able to make decisions for my higher good. I had to determine who I was inside and accept myself. I was then able to stand up for myself because I learned self acceptance. Then I was able to become accountable to myself and knew there was no turning back to the old way of expressing myself. I took the risks to speak up and be heard, and I wasn’t behaving two-faced and gossiping, or whining and complaining or slandering people behind their backs.
My personality transformed to being someone who could be trusted and be approachable in any awkward challenge. Then I was able to find good friends because I was happy and was like a magnet. I drew happy people to me rather than angry negative people who shared in my woe is me philosophy.
It takes emotional intelligence to confront and examine behaviour and take responsibility for misbehaviour. We may have a reason for being passive aggressive, but then really, even if it’s secretly despising someone and doing something spiteful, in the end we are only hurting ourselves . And if we get caught, we are the ones that look stupid. So if you are going to learn to say no, say no to passive aggressive.
Today right now is your point of power to get things done. So go ahead… jump on the growth and learning curve and learn the lessons of your life experiences and challenges, and how you graduated through defining moments. Learn from what worked and what didn’t. Lean towards what you want more of and pay less attention to what you want less of. Find out what brings you joy and meaning and significance, make that your magnificent obsession. When you change your mind, the way you think, and the mental habits and patterns that take you out of the game called a full life, then you will have momentum in your life and have more positive experiences. That’s it for now. Have a great day.
I think it is sad when we see these patterns show up in our lives. Passive aggressive behaviour is a sign of resistance to “what is” and shrinking from using ones own voice. Your point around “safety” is an important one, because we will never speak our truth if we don’t feel safe. However, whose job is it to make me feel safe, it is each persons responsibility to monitor their safety and make the sometimes tough choices to create safety. But then, we must use our voice to create safety.
As children we don’t have the luxury of saying no because of our dependence on our parents, teachers etc. But as adults, we have a choice to cope in a more healthy way. I’ve seen people say they would babysit and then they would say no last minute, or they would feel miserable the whole time and take it out on everyone. I’ve seen people who give the silent treatment or get into substance abuse. It’s a nasty little thorn that gets stuck in our socks and we have the choice to pull it out, or go limping through life with wounds and scars from the thorns, and being a chicken shit.