Is there ever any moment when we fully distinguish the difference between assertion and aggression, true love (of the agape variety) and consistent but complacent desire, between compassionate assistance and guilt-ridden obligation? When our actions toward others feel limited by our conditioning, when our understanding or sense of being understood, accepted, appreciated and valued come into question, how do our internal reactions, expectations, and thought processes determine the degree to which we authentically and directly express ourselves to others?
Here are some definitions of passive aggression to explore (the italics are my own).
- “is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullen behavior, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. ”
- “A style in which individuals appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. Prisoners of War (POW’s) often act in passive-aggressive ways to deal with an overwhelming lack of power. (POW’s) may try to secretly sabotage the prison, make fun of the enemy, or quietly disrupt the system while smiling and appearing cooperative.
People who develop a pattern of passive-aggressive communication usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful – in other words, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the object (real or imagined) of their resentments. They smile at you while setting booby traps all around you.”
We are sub-tweeting our families, friends, and lovers because we don’t want to deal with the consequences of expressing our discontent or disagreement with their ideas and behavior, outlook or lifestyle. We ignore calls or partially answer questions. We lie by omission, withhold sex, and treat our children as bargaining tools. Adulthood for passive aggressive persons and those dealing with them is a dance of gossiping and pointing, staring and looking away when caught in the act of acting.
I am someone who self-identifies as a passive aggressive person. There is an abundance of guilt that comes with expressing displeasure for me, specifically with those I have emotional attachment to. Due to childhood conditioning, toxic relationships, and a lack of examples of healthy interpersonal relationships contributed to my own behavior. I have difficulty navigating the line between assertiveness and outright aggression. I am often holding back everything and seeming secretive or unconcerned or going over the top, acting out at inappropriate moments or being decidedly confrontational.
Many who engage in this behavior (myself included) do try being direct about their issues initially, but get responses that make them feel misunderstood, or worse yet disregarded. Passive-aggression occurs when a conflict arises between need to express oneself or release pent up energy (emotion) and the desire to keep the peace manifests inter-personally by way of toxic symbiosis where actions are being taken but not admitted to, statements are being made but not elaborated upon, and blame is being placed without being acknowledged.
Sometimes, it’s just a response to the perceived passive aggression in others. We’ve all been in a situation where we sense indirect hostility in others and respond just as indirectly. (I AM SO F**ING GUILTY OF THIS IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY).
But isn’t it time to heal our heart connections?
When our actions reflect our ego’s fears rather than our soul intentions, how do we come back into alignment internally and individually to our connection with another? Is it just me or are we all struggling with the decision to ebb, flow, say “fuck no” or let go? (Don’t judge me. Being corny keeps me young 😀 )