Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Passive / Aggressive?

Take a chance! All life is a chance. The person who goes farthest is generally the one who will do and dare.
- Unknown Author

The old term, passive-aggressive, is not used as often as in the past, but it still applies to a lot of people.

The term refers to those who passively tolerate people and situations even though they don’t want to.

Their frustration builds until the blow-up or break-down.

This process is almost like flying on auto-pilot emotionally.

As usual, we have all either been passive-aggressive ourselves or watched someone who carried out this decision-making and behavior pattern.

It is usually a pattern of behavior we are very familiar with.

Maybe our parents have used this pattern and we have watched as it seemed to work for them; conflicts were avoided and family balance reestablished as long as someone stayed quiet.

Perhaps Mom or Dad had the role of always being right, and the other, always gave in.

Later, we might have been passive in tolerating an uncomfortable situation and then over-reacted in responding to a minor frustration; like dealing with a child or a fellow driver on the road.

If it worked in the past, why change? What are the pros and cons of this behavior?

The upside is that it works (to avoid conflict) and the downside is that it doesn’t work well enough (for our emotional satisfaction).

Ask yourself if this has become a habit for you.

Am I trying to avoid a conflict or confrontation that might occur if I said what I really think and feel?

We can all think of exceptions to the general rule of speaking openly and honestly (did you really like Grandma’s anise seed cookies?).

But, if you find that you swallow your feelings more often than you want, and then aggressively express your feelings in damaging ways due to your frustration, you need to change your pattern.

Recognize your pattern. Remain calm. Say what you think and feel, calmly and tactfully.


Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly. Recognize that it will take time to get into a new and healthier rhythm. Get a trusted partner to help you if you want or need one.

Stick with it. You can do this. We can help.

Live Well. Now.