How To Stop Being So Damn Passive Aggressive In Daily Life

It'll make you a happier human.

passive aggressive

Ever tired yourself out from relentlessly insisting to your mum/friend/partner/brother that you’re “fine” despite feeling anything but? Ever harboured feelings of resentment to someone for days on end, regardless of them constantly asking if they’ve upset you? Ever cut off your nose to spite your face and cancelled an event because you wanted the person that had upset you to know that they’d upset you, without you having to actually tell them that they’d upset you? Well—consider yourself officially passive aggressive, sister (and welcome to the club.)

Merriam-Webster defines “passive aggression” as an alternative to direct displays of the emotion—a “behaviour characterised by expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive way”. Which, as any passive aggressor knows, tends to manifest itself in the form of surly silences, an inexplicable inability to budge on certain issues and unhealthy communication that lends itself to constant insistences of the ever-frustrating “fine, just fine”.

Whichever way you slice it, passive aggressive behaviour can ruin relationships. Learning to express anger in a healthy way is essential—and not doing so can sabotage your relationship with your family, your partner, and most importantly—yourselfIf you find yourself nodding along knowingly in response to what you have read so far—panic ye not. This is a problem that you can fix. Here’s now:

Identify the issue

Sounds obvious, but it’s much easier said than done. It’s easy to identify what the issue is when you’re looking back on a situation (hindsight is a wonderful thing), but catching yourself when you’re in the heat of the moment is a completely different kettle of passive aggressive fish.

When you feel the heat of anger rise within you, try and be honest with yourself about how you actually feel. If this results in more of an outburst than usual, embrace the outburst; allow the inferno to blaze and then fade away. You’ll feel so much better afterwards and your genuine responses (as opposed to tempered reactions that simply simmer over time) will start to become a habit.

Believe in your emotions

This study found that those who experienced controlling parents were more likely to become passive aggressive, closed-off and withdrawn from their relationships. Finding your voice again after a controlling upbringing can be extremely difficult; but once you learn to have faith in our emotional responses and back yourself in every situation, you can start to become more assertive in your reactions.

Show some self-love

Ultimately, passive aggressive behaviour rears its ugly little head when we constantly question the validity of our feelings. Showing yourself love means standing up for what you think—good and bad. Believing that you’re worthy of love even if you overreact to a particular situation, demonstrate anger or get jealous is integral to combating passive aggressive tendencies. Self-love, always.

As women, it turns out that we’re significantly more prone to passive aggressive behaviour; likely thanks to the historical patriarchal structures that have penalised women for being assertive. Young girls are taught to be ‘nice’, ‘sweet’ and physical fighting is seen as grotesquely un-feminine. While these ingrained expectations are (yet another) behavioural-tax on women, we need to harness the injustice of such stereotypes and use them to steer our way towards being more direct, open and honest about our feelings as they occur.

Ultimately, if you’re not fine, say you’re not fine. Say you’re angry. Say you’re furious. Say you’re so mad you feel like molten lava is coursing through your veins. Say you are literally ANY other thing, than fine. In fact, ban ‘fine’ from your conversations for a few weeks and watch your vocabulary expand exponentially.

Did this article resonate? If so, you could maybe share it with a fellow passive aggressor. But like, whatever. I don’t care, it’s fine.

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