This past Saturday, at The Release Experience, an afternoon of worship, sessions and breakthrough hosted by Phylicia L. Henry, MBA and I. There were so many rich comments and questions that came from the participants.
I don’t mean to do this, but at times, it just happens. When someone is speaking, I can literally hear a word drop into my mind, more like on top of chest. While one of the participants was speaking about a relational scenario in her life, I heard the words: Passive Aggressive.
So, I asked the Google expert in the audience to look it up.
What does it mean to be passive aggressive?
“It is where you are angry with someone but do not or cannot tell them. Instead of communicating honestly when you feel upset, annoyed, irritated or disappointed you may instead bottle the feelings up, shut off verbally, give angry looks, make obvious changes in behaviour, be obstructive, sulky or put up a stone wall.” -Andrea Haarn, Psychotherapist
Based on Andrea Haarn’s definition, many of us fall into exerting passive aggressive behavior from time to time, especially with certain people, but then there are those who dwell in the passive aggression space. They either don’t know they have a pattern of passive aggression or are aware, but don’t know how to stop the tendency to bottle up feelings or let annoying things slide, possibly because it’s a learned behavior or a cultural thing.
Think about it.
Do all the women in your family backbite, instead of talking directly to the other family member who hurt or offended them? Are all the men in your family willingly passive or led by women? Were your true feelings supported as a child or were you scolded for being too emotional?
Any of the before mentioned context cues, can fuel a tendency to be passive aggressive, now that you’re an adult.
After reading aloud a definition of passive aggressive, some of the women at The Release Experience began to nod their heads in agreement. A couple of the women, verbally acknowledged, “yup, I do that”! I’m being passive aggressive with this person.
Do you have a pattern of avoiding direct, honest communication about tough matters? Do you find yourself blocking people on social media because they’ve triggered something in you? Would you prefer to avoid people in your family, instead of addressing what’s bothering you?
Did you answer yes to any of these questions?
If so, it’s okay, but I’d like for you to consider how passive aggressiveness could impede your ability to be happy and have close, healthy, loving relationships.
- You could be seen as extra fickle, because you don’t stand for what you feel. Therefore, others may struggle to listen to what you say when you do speak up.
- Instead of strengthening the richness of your relationships, you could be weakening them, by not confidently speaking about things that matter to you.
- You’re wasting time with distractive and negative thoughts about the person who offended you, looking for ways to “passively” get him or her back. Like, blocking him or her on social media.
- You could begin to get physically sick due to the stress of bottling everything in overtime.
If this article has helped you identify passive aggressiveness in your life, you can begin to do something about it.
- Admit to yourself that you don’t want to be passive aggressive.
- Practice speaking up for yourself when the offense or rub happens. Take a deep breath. Be brief and to the point about letting him or her know how they crossed a line or rubbed you the wrong way. One of my favorite ways of letting someone know they’ve rubbed me wrong is: You made me feel uncomfortable.
- Schedule a coffee or tea date with the person you want to address. If need be, write down what you want to say in advance to keep you focused.
- Checkin with a coaching or counseling professional. Passive aggression could be a pattern for you that needs to be worked through with you by a trained professional. Single women, I’m here for you.
As you go into the holiday season, attend holiday parties and reconnect with extended family, I hope you are able to assert yourself, where need be. Let us know how this article resonated with you or rubbed you the wrong way, by commenting below.
With Love + Purpose,
Tiffany Wilson, M.Div (aka)
P.S. If you’re interested in addressing how passive aggressiveness is impacting your dating life or singleness, I invite you to schedule a free 30 minute coaching call with me, CLICK HERE to make it happen.