Quote for reflection: “Funny thing about passive-aggressive people. They can smile and throw you under the bus; then get you to apologize for getting upset about it. ~unknown
Like a tripwire
Passive-aggressive behavior can be very sneaky yet widespread in how people act. It’s like a tripwire that appears out of nowhere in many situations.
It wasn’t until I did some research on this topic that I discovered why this kind of communication style triggers me. It is considered a form of abuse, a psychological covert form. It is veiled, not easily identifiable, because it’s masked by what seems like ‘normal societal’ behavior.
To me, what is considered ‘normal’ behavior is often just a society or culture’s way to control social interactions. It could be in ways that seem more like formalities or niceties rather than actually being genuine or meaningful. Or it could be aberrant behavior that has become normalized. If it were socially caring and connecting, we wouldn’t have so many dysfunctional dynamics to unravel and beliefs to clear through.
Due to a person’s own lack of insight into their feelings, passive-aggression often feels like subconscious anger, resentment or revenge towards another. The person then acts as if they are misunderstood or are being held to unreasonable standards if they are questioned about their behavior.
The above dynamics often occurs in breaking agreements. The behavior is made to look like the person is forgiving you for something you didn’t do. Personally, I call this crazy-making. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean, and Dr. Seuss can’t remedy this.
If a discussion is presented, the other will deny that their actions or communication happened as it was observed, and instead, claim it was subjective…like ‘you said, I said’. OR there is a shifting of accountability by projecting wrongness onto the one observing. This could start to get into gaslighting and shame-blaming.
Example one – Modeling for responsible behavior
A husband leaves his clothes all around the house. The wife picks them up until she decides that she doesn’t want to do this, wants the children to have modeling for responsible behavior with household chores, and wants the husband to take care of this for himself. She asks him to put his own clothes in the hamper to help out. He becomes upset that the wife won’t do what she has ‘always done’ for him. So he picks up his clothes and does the laundry at 3 AM waking her up. If she complains, he says it’s about her making him wrong in taking care of his part.
In this pattern, his undercurrent actions, his ‘revengeful’ ways of appearing ‘responsible’, were used to project on his wife, so he could play the victim and claim he was made wrong. This can be very crazy-making.
This was a pattern that I actually experienced when I was married years ago. I learned that I was strong enough to stop this kind of abuse (among other episodes) by leaving the marriage. There was forgiveness–I understood what the lesson was and that he was showing me how to regain my power. I released him from this and aligned it through Creator. There was also a lasting distrust of his MO. One doesn’t lie on a functioning railroad tract and expect nothing will happen…especially when the other hasn’t done their inner work.
I have worked many beliefs around passive-aggressive behavior entering my life through interacting with different people over the years. Yet, I have sometimes gotten caught off guard when their actions and words don’t align.
To trust others and trust myself
I want to trust others who I’ve known for awhile, especially in having developed a lengthy, emotionally intimate relationship. Something that is often forgotten is to be able to reevaluate situations when something feels slightly eschew or isn’t spoken to immediately. Being unaware of, or hoping things will change without further action, just allows a continuation of what can become a persistent pattern.
For the most part, I’m a straight communicator, meaning I attempt not to use sarcasm, not to be offensive in cussing (cursing), to be kind but clear and direct, keep my boundaries intact with flexibility according to the situation and how I’m feeling. I can be present by listening to what the person is really saying and reflecting back when it seems appropriate. I’m not perfect by any means, but I trust myself to look at how I’m interacting in any situation if it doesn’t feel right.
Sarcasm can be a form of passive-aggression. It can be a real learning curve to add humor without putting another down when I don’t feel heard or safe. It was a huge family pattern that could feel very belittling to those who it was projected towards.
I’ve worked really deeply on this. I recognized that my subconscious mind’s last strategy was to act out through ‘sneak attacks’ to get another’s attention, to show I had the upper-hand in protecting my views or protecting my vulnerabilities. In growing up and then in being married, it had become a tit-for-tat strategy in seeing who could out-do the other by ‘throwing out’ the sarcasm and then denying it meant anything. This is passive-aggressive behavior.
I went through a cold turkey process to stop this from happening outloud though I could hear it inside myself ruminating…that is until I cleared the underlying issues. It’s been a definite process.
Through the years, and particularly in the last seven, I have worked with new communication skills that really connect me more deeply with my core (authentic) self, my true feelings and a grounded awareness of truth in relating to the world. These skills are actually being developed within The Moving Beyond Trauma Project™ with my business partners. It has raised the bar in how I want to be communicated with as well.
This communication style, though, has gradually created more friction with my family. It feels like a foreign language to them as does my ideas, awareness and spirituality which continue to deepen. We agree to disagree a great deal or often avoid subjects of any depth more often than not.
This gives me plenty of practice to speak more to this in what feels limiting, disrespectful or minimized–not fun nor easy but essential. This is part of my spiritual evolution, and it feels so enriching in the development of grounded virtues to help advance myself and the planet forward.
I can understand and have empathy in what they might experience in this gap. My style is certainly different than the way the outer world, the media, the politicians, the corporate realm, the hate and fear-based styles wants us to relate from. Yet it affirms that I’m not going back to the way things were.
What I appreciate about myself is that I will own my part if I act off-center or intentionally disrespectful if given the space to figure it out. I feel coming clean is what keeps emotional intimacy alive, and I place high value in living from this place. I bet you’ll agree that the family is definitely a great testing ground to clear things from.
Example 2 – Close friendship
I really hoped things would have turned out differently in this person’s pattern. I did a great deal of research and note-taking to clarify the truth of the matter, but it was made to look like I wasn’t acting in integrity in taking care of my part with this person and those connected.
I came to a place of realizing that I can care deeply and love another as a friend, but truth-telling, trustworthiness and tracking an issue through (the three ‘T’s’ that I just made up), need to occur, or the relationship ends. I then get to stand in my truth allowing others to think what they want of me but maintaining respect for myself so I can then move on.
Passive-aggression had happened a number of times in this particular relationship, and it finally came to an apex during a mercury retrograde some years ago. Ya gotta give these retrogrades acknowledgment for the power they have around bringing communications to a head and creating a need for action whether it’s sorting through the confusion or preparing for disconnection. (And we’re a retrograde this month.)
It had been a long and close friendship with the other who played many important roles in my life. I finally couldn’t allow some of the dissociative qualities that were appearing more often, along with the passive-aggressive behavior, to be minimized. It felt too ‘crazy-making’. I didn’t want to feel victimized nor play out being in any victim position.
The other might have set up the situations, but I had to wake up to do something different with the presentation. It took me awhile to track all the instances. This brought me out of a fog to realize I trusted another who was not worthy of my trust and who had been programmed within a very abusive childhood from where all this was being acted out.
I ended up letting go of aspects of my power and intuitive abilities in trusting the other’s ‘connection’ to Creator more than my own. There was an imbalance of power and a hierarchal structure that I allowed.
In ‘excusing’ the person’s behavior, I had to really go deep within to look at this. I had an emotional expectation (gotta watch out for these) that the person would be honest in communicating the events and connections that occurred.
I had to stop allowing what had been unspoken, to be turned into excuses by this person. I had to stop the excuses I made to cover up in what was being presented. I had to stop self dishonesty and doubting my own abilities.
All of this, though difficult, was a perfect exercise in stopping the leaching of my power.
Once I understood what was going on, it was really about the forgiveness that I needed to experience towards the person, as well as the forgiveness that was needed towards myself. And in that awareness, the deceptive intentions and actions, along with the lacking of the honesty and integrity, necessitated ending the relationship.
Forgiveness means acknowledging and releasing the three R’s (regret, resentment, rejection, and I’ll add in revenge too). Forgiveness doesn’t mean that people need to stay connected. The freedom in the situation came when I cleared my own triggers from the origination or past point. I delved in to explore all that it brought up within.
In the forgiving, there was an awareness, at a deeper level, of each person’s part and a release from the other in recognizing what was learned from the situation. It’s was all for me, so I can move on unencumbered and unburdened from the other. It was returning my power and energy back to myself. I could then proceed to act in what was in alignment for me through Creator.
Remember, passive aggression is a form of abuse. If we want to move through the cycles of abuse and see the world differently–peaceful and harmonious–we start with ourselves.
So if you use to or have used passive-aggression in relating to others, or you’ve been related to in these ways, check the beliefs below. If they apply, clear them. Below the beliefs are Creator’s teachings. Just say ‘Yes’ if you’d like them as I left them at the 7th Plane.
With deep learning, forgiveness, and care,
I extracted possible ‘theme’ beliefs from the story. Energy test yourself for them, practice clearing them through digging if applicable, and use Creator’s teachings including the ones below if they fit.
- I use (or need) passive aggression to wake up another to my needs.
- I use (or need) passive aggression to create space to communicate with others.
- I use (or need) passive aggression to protect myself from others.
- I have to hide my anger (resentment or other feelings) in order to get my needs met.
- I have to hide my true intentions from others in order to protect myself.
- Passive aggression makes me feel in control.
- I’m afraid of direct and clear truth-sharing.
- Speaking my truth always feels confrontational.
- I’m afraid of emotional intimacy.
- I have to hide what I feel to make it appear I’m present for others.
- I have to blame others for being unable to follow through with any of my emotional expectations.
- My expectations of others need to be covert so that I get my needs met without saying what I really need.
Helpful Creator’s teachings/downloads
I know what it feels like to, how to, when to, that it’s possible, that I can, I do (or I am/am able to be):
- to express my true needs to others without feeling coerced or acting coercive
- to express my needs without it being covert
- to express my feelings without fear of reprisal from others.
- to live without irrational expectations of others.
- to be safe to express what I need without feeling guilty, selfish, or embarrassed
- to understand my part in any interaction and take action that keeps me anchored in my core, true to myself
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