This past week, three women told me they feel crazy. Listening to their stories, I’m struck by their clarity, kindness, and generosity. Yet, they feel crazy in connection to a relationship with someone they love. When I encounter this combination, I suspect passive aggressive behavior is in the mix. Passive aggressive behavior is a:
pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations…
often overtly ambivalent, wavering indecisively from one course of action to its opposite. They may follow an erratic path that causes endless wrangles with others and disappointment for themselves.
Here’s a typical and mild example:
Whenever Joe’s wife, Marge, asks him to do something around the house, he always seems to go along and agree to do it. But the task rarely gets done. He either conveniently “forgets” about it, or he does a little bit of it, but doesn’t finish the job. Sometimes he does the job but in a way that isn’t really what she wanted. In all instances, Marge is left feeling frustrated with Joe.
Joe appears to feel vaguely guilty about this, but it keeps happening; and Marge is getting increasingly angry. She begins to wonder: “Does Joe really care for me? Because I feel like I can’t trust him anymore.” Marge has a vague feeling that he is getting back at her, but she can’t figure out exactly why.
Joe keeps saying, “Hey, I’m only human. I just forget sometimes.” He claims he would really like to give her all the things she wants.
Passive aggressive behaviors are sneaky and slippery like a snake. And like a snake, these behaviors hide in the shadows and under rocks. When looking for how to deal with a loved one who exhibits passive aggressive behaviors, “help” is often discouraging and hopeless. Passive aggressive behaviors can be linked to personality disorders, depression, and other big challenges. It is seen as tenacious to the point of not being worth the effort to tackle. The loved one won’t let go of the snake, even though they are being bit. You also risk being labeled as a co-dependent in this unhappy situation. But there is hope. There is always hope in love and the desire for another’s happiness.
The most practical and helpful article on this topic that I have found is Eliminating Passive Aggressiveness. It is written for the passive aggressive person and their loved one, succinctly answering questions and offering a positive course of action:
What is passive aggressiveness?
What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?
What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?
How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?
Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive
Take a deep breath. Find good information, support, and encouragement. And get your flashlight ready. In the picture included with this post, there are pretty flowers and warm sunshine that represent all the good around you. Claim it! And there is also a shadowy rock where a snake may be hiding, ready to bite. Shine your light on destructive behaviors and reclaim your sanity.
Are you familiar with passive aggressive behaviors? How do deal with them?
Sending special love to all who are feeling crazy; may these feelings pass swiftly and your peace be secured ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc