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12 Ways Your Passive-Aggressiveness Is Slowly Killing Your Relationships

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Passive-aggressiveness includes the obvious passive, withdrawn or apathetic approach to relationships.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]

      “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.

      Reference

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      Last Updated on August 19, 2019

      How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

      We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

      When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

      In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

      Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

      If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

      According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

      No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

      When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

      Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

      1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

      When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

      Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

      When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

      Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

      In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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      It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

      You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

      Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

      What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

      You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

      That’s where we all should be.

      So, answer me this:

      How are you, really?

      And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

      Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

      Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

      Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

      Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

      It’s taking control.

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      2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

      You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

      You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

      In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

      Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

      You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

      Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

      But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

      It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

      In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

      It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

      Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

      Change will happen.

      Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

      You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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      And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

      You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

      That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

      You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

      When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

      There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

      3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

      Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

      In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

      If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

      Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

      Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

      How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

      Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

      “Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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      Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

      Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

      It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

      Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

      “If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

      What would you do if you felt you were enough?

      By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

      So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

      Final Thoughts

      By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

      Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

      When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

      You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

      More About Living Your True Self

      Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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