*This article was written by our friend Ryan Duke.
Passive – accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or action.
Aggressive – ready or likely to attack or confront.
An oxymoron at it’s finest. I have come into the realization that I fell under the spell of folk of these parameters quite easily. I never knew the role I played in the game either. I’m sure you’ve met a passive aggressive at some point in time or another. You may even be one. If you happen to be unfamiliar with this term I will explain to clarify.
This is a relational response to the undesirable things someone doesn’t wish to directly deal with. There is lots of ambiguity, blaming of others, sarcasm, competitive attitude for no reason other than fearing competition. There is also, lying, resentment, isolation, chronic lateness and forgetfulness (which I believe isn’t forgetting as much as it is choosing to forget). There is even a passive aggressive disorder. I can’t buy that one though as if it was a medical thing. It’s more of a heart disorder. I’d have to agree with ‘Cecil Adams’,
“Merely being passive-aggressive isn’t a disorder but a behavior ‚Äî sometimes a perfectly rational behavior, which lets you dodge unpleasant chores while avoiding confrontation. It’s only pathological if it’s a habitual, crippling response reflecting a pervasively pessimistic attitude.”
This a self inflicted wound. And one that inflicts everyone around the supposed “victim.” It hides in the most convincing disguise. In the most direct description it is manipulation. It’s a tool someone uses to sway others into doing what they want through the above mentioned unmentionables; ambiguity, etc. Did you ever have a time growing up when someone was mad at you and gave you the silent treatment? This is a very simple, obvious, and early form of passive aggression. Think of some spoiled kid crossing his/her arms and turning slightly to the side with a pouty ‘hmph’ noise to show their displeasure with not getting what they wanted. Sounds ridiculous, but this is an underlying personality thing that many utilize their whole life well into old age if not treated properly.
It’s also self deception. Fear is what drives these actions. For whatever reason a soul feels they can not confront anyone in a civilized manner, because rejection is too hard to take. They fear upsetting someone and being scolded or confronted themselves about something they want so desperately to ignore is even there. There is a book called Approval Addiction by Joyce Meyers, This deals with people on both ends of the spectrum of manipulation in relationships, but more with a pushover type of personality. I highly recommend it.
So what do you do about this issue. Well, if you are dealing with someone else with this struggle then check yourself first. You may be like I was for so long, a victim who got manipulated and didn’t realize I didn’t have to please everyone. Often when just being yourself instead of giving in to the silent demands of another, they will give up and cut out the BS or they will get even more upset and stop being around you. Either way it’s better to follow what you know is the right thing to do and not be fake. Sometimes people need a kick in the pants to get them straightened out. But kick them with fuzzy slippers instead of steel-toed combat boots.
Another thing to help this is to practice getting your mind set on what it is thinking. Sounds odd, but it’s simple. There is this dude who wrote a book of the Bible named James and said ¬†¬† ¬†
“Above all, my brothers, do not swear‚Äînot by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.”
Simplicity! Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do what you know you should do and be honest. Honesty is the key to get out of this prison. If you can’t be open about what is really going on then you are in reality lying.
Now if you are someone who is the passive aggressor I’d say honesty again is the answer. People can’t read your mind. So, cut it out and be straight forward. It’s a lame way to deal with problems. I myself don’t even pay any attention when I’m responded to this way. If you can’t say to my face what needs to be said then you must not feel that strong about it. Which I know you probably do, but are to scared to deal with it like an adult. This is harsh, but that’s my personality flaw and gift at the moment.
Think about what matters most in life. The Simpson’s Movie gave this great moral epiphany to Homer that if he didn’t care about people and didn’t have anyone then he was nothing himself, because without relationships we have no purpose.¬† And with behavior like passive aggression you will end up with no true friends. You’ll only be around people who are willing to cope with your attitudes.