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12 Ways Your Passive-Aggressiveness Is Slowly Killing Your Relationships

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12 Ways Your Passive-Aggressiveness Is Slowly Killing Your Relationships

Passive-aggressiveness is a learned response to the home life dynamic experienced in youth. The adult passive-aggressive grew up in a home with too many rules to count; strict, regimented laws, no chance at personal adventures. Youth who grow up like this come to believe that speaking their truth, or simply saying ‘no’ to something they don’t want to do, is dangerous, and will jeopardize their chance to receive love and affection from their parents or caregivers. This cycle will continue into adulthood, if never addressed.

Passive-aggressiveness includes the obvious passive, withdrawn or apathetic approach to relationships. This approach will spill over into all sort of adult relationships, from friendships, intimate partners, school and on to the workplace.

Passive-aggressiveness never serves anyone well, and will only harm the passive-aggressive persons themselves, and those relationships they truly wish to cultivate.

Passive-aggressive is a personality type with an indirect expression of hostility.

    The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has classified passive-aggressiveness as many things throughout the years.

    It first appeared in 1952. Since then, it’s been called a ”personality style”, ”hidden hostility”, a ”defense mechanism”, a ”personality disorder” and ”negativistic.” Regardless of how you view it, or which title you prefer, it’s a confusing and harmful defense that leaves both sides less clear on their relationship. This cloudy communication style is detrimental to any relationship.

    Here are 12 ways our passive-aggressiveness is slowly killing our relationships.

    The passive-aggressives don’t let people know how they really feel or what they really want.

      When you hold back from speaking up or clarifying where you stand on an issue, your passive-aggressiveness is triggered because you feel scared, unsafe or concerned that doing so will mean you no longer will receive the approval of the person you want to impress or be liked by.

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      This passive-aggressive pattern is dangerous in a relationship because if the person you are in a relationship with doesn’t know what you really think or want, they are not really in a relationship with you, as you truly are. With time, this only becomes more detrimental to your relationship. You will feel resentment at living phoney and forcing yourself to walk on eggshells. They will feel they don’t really know you. And in fact, they don’t.

      These are two very big red relationship flags and some of the worst feelings one can feel in any relationship: unaddressed resentment and communicating like a stranger.

      Meditate on this thought by Daphne Rose Kingma,

      ”Make sure it’s your true self you are showing. Because it’s your true self that needs love.”

      The passive-aggressives forfeit special connections with people they like out of fear of conflict.

      Passive-aggressiveness always chooses conflict avoidance, because you have come to experience conflict or disagreement as terrifying. It doesn’t have to be. Your past may have provided limited occasions at self-expression.

      The passive-aggressive certainly wants to connect with those they admire and respect, but often feel they have no tools to do so. When a passive-aggressive begins to feel attachment or real love for one who has inspired them, it’s common practise to retreat and forfeit the connection because of the fear that something will go wrong or of that they will be perceived rejection.

      Passive-aggressive people will often break their own hearts, constantly giving up on relationships or experiences that open them up to any potential for failure, intimacy or heightened risk of rejection, even though it’s the very relationship or experience they truly want to pursue.

      The passive-aggressives give up before they try.

      For many years, I heard my parents’ opinions in my head before I made a decision. I stepped away from my own dreams, desires or other exciting prospects because I could hear their critique instead of my own. I was filled with dread and fear whenever I had to make a firm plan or answer to a pressing matter.

      Accepting advice from family is not an inherently bad thing. Of course, hearing out others counsel can be very beneficial, indeed. But when other’s opinions on what is ”right”, ”good” or ”appropriate” or what they would do in their own life consistently surpasses your own, you are not developing your own soul compass and decision-making skills.

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      You are living an inauthentic existence. You are experiencing life through others, and not even attempting things you want to do because your parents, other family members, friends or colleagues told you that you will fail.

      The passive-aggressives keep choosing the “easy” way out because they think it will avoid pain.

      If you identify yourself as a passive-aggressive or are starting to think you may be, or are experiencing passive-aggressiveness in your relationships or decision-making, you are familiar with doing things sub-par, half-hearted or out of convenience.

      The choice that you believe provides you with minimal discomfort or pain. You think it’s “easy” but it’s not. You believe that this way you won’t expose yourself too much.

      The fear always lurking around the corner for a passive-aggressive is that by succeeding or going out on a limb, will open them up to rejection, failure, ridicule or criticism. Passive-aggressiveness will always stunt your spirit.

      The passive-aggressives mistake an honest and respectful dialogue with malicious confrontation.

      Any direct dialogue, to some degree, is a terrifying prospect to a passive-aggressive person. All dialogue is confused with pain, discomfort, and other overwhelming emotions of the past.

      Confrontation, in almost any form, is a trigger for the passive-aggressive. It can make them recall their childhood or other experiences of their past, when confrontation was peppered with insults and obscenities or an unresponsive party.

      What the passive-aggressive doesn’t quite understand is that being assertive, not aggressive, can help empower a bond or relationship. If the passive-aggressive, goes out of their comfort zone, and attempts to have a honest and respectful dialogue, and is met with resistance or abusive tactics, there may be other issues at play in the relationship that are being ignored.

      It’s not uncommon for the passive-aggressive to get involved with co-dependents, narcissists, domineering and demanding or other inappropriate partners due to their passivity and low self-esteem.

      The passive-aggressives imagine the worst-case scenario even when things are positive in a relationship.

      Passive-aggressives are often seen by those that know them as complainers who never make any changes. They can be contrary, fatalistic and overall negative. According to The Angry Smile workbook,[1] a passive-aggressive individual may make comments like, ”It doesn’t pay to be good” or “Good things don’t last.”

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      Passive-aggressive people have come to believe that not only does the worst-case scenario always happen to them, but that it’s what they deserve. This is another example of the damaged self-confidence of a passive-aggressive.

      The passive-aggressives keep recycling the old ways of dealing with complicated situations.

      Because the passive-aggressive doesn’t think they have many tools to deal with the ups and downs of relationships, they rely on old patterns or what they saw parents or siblings or friends do in their relationships. If you let it, the cycle will continue on, with no end.

      Don’t recycle the same lines you used in a past relationship. Not only is it dishonest but prevents you from being present and aware to the relationship troubles you are experiencing.

      The passive-aggressives prolong an annoyance or disagreement.

      Passive-aggressive people are often waving like a flag in the wind. Back and forth, they sway from one direction to the other, intensely conflicted.

      Prolonging a decision, a change that needs to be made or a disagreement they’ve ignored, only morphs into a terrible beast to be slain later. The passive-aggressive sometimes hopes the problem will go away, without them having to maturely confront the issue at the hand.

      Your prolonging for what ails you will not benefit you. You will be faced with it again days, weeks, months, or years later.

      The passive-aggressives repress, deny and ignore their true thoughts and feelings.

      Repressing your true thoughts and feelings is dangerous. The passive-aggressive doesn’t realize the harm they are inflicting upon themselves and those around them. This is another emotionally dishonest way the passive-aggressive maintains relationships.

      The passive-aggressives burn bridges.

      Passive-aggressiveness burns bridges. They don’t build them. They fear the end result and incorrectly believe that all ends bad, anyway, so who cares?

      This is very harmful to all relationships because this only isolates the passive person. And others feel naturally less connected to them.

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      Passive-aggressives believe that appearing to be polite and cooperative on the surface is the same as building good rapport with others. All the while their true opinions are festering beneath the surface. This is not the same as a good relationship with others.

      The passive-aggressives say ”yes” to every request and then blame others for making them do things they don’t want to do.

      In the psychology guide book, The Angry Smile, the authors write that passive-aggressives will say yes to things they don’t want to do and then blame and resent the person for making them do something. This, like all the other behavioral patterns of a passive-aggressive allows problems to escalate.

      Stop agreeing to things that you don’t want to do or don’t believe in or that no longer serves you. The more yes’s you utter, the deeper you fall into your passive-aggression, and the more trapped, obligated and unhappy you become.

      The passive-aggressives are ambivalent and indecisive, following the lead of every one else but themselves.

      Passive-aggressives will often look to their supervisor, parent or spouse to tell them what to do even though they resent it. When their supervisor, parent or spouse changes their opinion, they are confused.

      Many times, the passive-aggressive doesn’t find refuge in their own heart and mind, but instead spends a great deal of energy avoiding things. Placing their direction on another person makes it hard for the passive-aggressive to find resolution.

      What the passive-aggressive hasn’t yet taken to heart is that others’ ideas may change. If you rely on others to make your decisions or tell you what to do, you will never find peace.

      To deal with passive-aggressiveness, it’s not just about talking it out.

      When it seems to be so obvious that “talking it out” is the key to dealing with passive-agressiveness, it’s not. Because it’s a lot more about how you talk, no matter if you are a passive-aggressive person, or are currently dealing with any of them.

      Practice assertive communication.

      Assertive communication means standing up for your own opinion in a calm, respectful and positive way, without being either aggressive, or passively accepting “wrong”. When you’re assertive, you listen to another person’s opinion, acknowledge their presence and validate their feelings, instead of accusing or blaming them. You’re showing your understanding and willingness to sort things out, trying to achieve a “win-win” situation.

      Recognize that the emotion of anger is not a bad thing.

      California-based therapist and emotion expert Andrea Brandt, Ph.D. says,[2]

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      “Anger has many positive qualities: It tells us when something is wrong, it can help you in terms of getting you to focus, evaluate your values and goals and strengthen your relationships and connections,”

      We’re human beings, we have emotions. It’s totally okay to feel angry. Expressing emotions doesn’t make you weak, ignoring them does. When you are angry about something, express it and address it directly with the assertive communication skills.

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      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

      Warming up

      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

      Stay hydrated

      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

      Meditate

      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

      2. Focus on your goal

      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

      3. Convert negativity to positivity

      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

      4. Understand your content

      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

      5. Practice makes perfect

      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

      6. Be authentic

      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

      7. Post speech evaluation

      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

      Improve your next speech

      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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      • How did I do?
      • Are there any areas for improvement?
      • Did I sound or look stressed?
      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
      • Was I saying “um” too often?
      • How was the flow of the speech?

      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

      Reference

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