Authored by William G. DeFoore, Ph.D.
Passive aggressive behavior results from not being honest, with yourself and/or others. But that doesn't make you a bad person--most people are indirect with their anger at one time or another.
We're going to look at a good definition of the problem here, but then we're going straight to the solution! Dwelling on problems doesn't do anybody any good, but learning about and implementing solutions helps everybody!
Awareness is the first step to change, so let's first find out exactly what we're talking about when we say passive aggressive behavior. Take a look at the chart below.
One of the reasons you fall into this type of pattern is that you're trying not to be overtly aggressive. And that's because you're a good person.
We're going to approach this problem in terms of the solution. But first, let's get on the same page about what it is--at least let me tell you what I think it is, based on my 40+ years of professional experience. I'll give my definition of passive aggressive behavior in these points:
In other words, you feel angry about something but instead of expressing it you stuff it. But the anger doesn't go away, and it looks for a way out. It finds a way out through your behavior, while in your mind you are pretending that you're not angry.
What you're likely to hear from someone with this problem:
Okay, but can this get really mean? You bet. Some people can't harbor such resentment and hostility that they really intend to hurt somebody. In advanced forms, this would be and example of passive aggressive personality disorder.
In my experience, however, this is rare. Most of the time, this kind of sideways, indirect anger comes from basically good folks who just don't know any other way of getting their feelings out.
First, I'll say congratulations for being here and trying to get emotionally healthy! You can learn to express your emotions in healthy, straight-forward ways instead of being indirect and passive. Here is what I recommend:
Do the above exercises, and you will most definitely get some benefit. Do them regularly, and you will feel yourself changing. Do them regularly on an ongoing basis, and you will start to live a happy, productive life with positive, loving relationships.
Be sure and look through the above material, and make sure that you are clear about your own emotions. Then try some of these approaches:
P.S. The best thing you can do regarding passive aggressive behavior is is to make sure your own anger is healthy. All of these products are designed to help you become your own best anger management resource!