Aggression has been defined as a ‘hostile or violent behavior’ towards others and when it becomes passive, it is extremely detrimental because it does not manifest itself, it remains under the surface and the façade of goodness misleads us till the simmering emotions overflow into a big explosion.
Such a behavior can be quite confounding for a layman.
According to Kendra Cherry, a Psychology expert, “The phrase passive-aggressive is used to describe behavior or a personality trait that involves 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.”
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has classified passive-aggressiveness as many things throughout the years. It’s been called a “personality style”, “hidden hostility”, a “defense mechanism”, a “personality disorder” and “negativistic.”
How do we recognize such persons who may be around us – in the form of our near and dear ones? Some of the obvious signs may be glaring at you.
Signs of Passive Aggressive Behavior:
- They are non-communicative and avoid dialogue.
- They lack assertiveness.
- Silent hostility and emotional blackmail is their weapon.
- They avoid confrontation but are good manipulators.
- They conceal their true feelings for a long time.
- They fail to see reason and logic, even when explained.
- They have no respect for others’ emotions.
- They can be quite self-centered and vindictive.
Kelly often talks about renouncing this world. She wants a simpler life; she wants to calm her mind down as peace of mind has always eluded her.
She has made every possible effort to attain it within the confines of her home and culture. A vivacious and beautiful woman, she possessed the most captivating smile and could charm anybody with her personality…a disposition, which had been nurtured by the values of care, love, loyalty and integrity, so rarely found in the modern era of self-love.
A victim of passive aggression for almost ten years in her own home, she has been making the best possible efforts to deal with it but it has affected her own psyche so deeply that she is at the brink of a breakdown.
That is how passive aggression hurts, not only one person but also all those around us.
It spreads negative energy:
People who are passively aggressive hold a lot of negative energy within themselves and it molds their thoughts. Since they choose to withhold all those feelings of anger and resentment within their heart and carry themselves, wearing a mask of pretended goodness, it cannot reach anybody. Negative vibes are strong enough to filter through their persona and can be felt by friends, siblings, spouse etc.
It fails to address practical problems:
Passive aggressive people evade real life problems and procrastinate, which keeps on building. Any work, which needs immediate attention, is deliberately ignored to prove their imaginative point because nobody could know what is going on in their mind. They behave as if they are absolutely comfortable with people they dislike, as they believe that they can solve their problems in their own silent way but they fail miserably.
It blocks communication:
When interaction with each other falls apart, when feelings and emotions are not discussed with an open mind and heart and when others are expected to determine the reasons of passive aggression, an untold harm is caused to both who display this behavior and those who have to bear the brunt of their attitude. Lack of communication is very unhealthy for relationships.
It ruins relationships:
Happy relationships thrive on a good, honest and truthful demeanor, which is given a boot by passively aggressive people. Since they have the tendency to do everything secretly and could lie to cover up, it becomes extremely damaging for relationships. Their façade gets exposed sooner or later as it is impossible to befool the people around us with whom we spend a considerable period of time.
It creates distrust:
Such people lose the trust of their closest possible kin, as their fake nature can be well understood. Can you rely on such a person who hides his real feelings and emotions? Once the trust is lost, it is very difficult to restore it. Even the honest intentions of such a person can be doubted, thereby making him/her vulnerable.
Passive aggression is like a volcano, waiting to burst when the anger becomes unbearable. Such a person needs empathy and therapy albeit he may resist all your efforts.
How to help yourself:
- Self- talk to build up your confidence, keep your thoughts positive and your hope alive.
- Keep your emotions especially anger under control to deal with such people.
- Share your thoughts and emotions with a trusted friend or sibling.
- Discuss and try to make the passive aggressor aware of the harmful behavior.
- Seek professional help and therapy to keep the relationship alive.
Nothing can change overnight. Patience and consistent efforts to deal with such behavior may bring some positive results.
It is very easy to abandon such persons, as they would never even ask you the reason. However if they happen to be important in your life, you are in for some tough challenges.
Do you know any such people? How do you react to them? Do you possess any traits of passive aggression? I would love to hear your views.
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