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Passive Aggression. How To Recognize And Resist - Society
Passive Aggression. How To Recognize And Resist - Society

Video: Passive Aggression. How To Recognize And Resist - Society

Video: Passive Aggression. How To Recognize And Resist - Society
Video: 12 Ways to Recognize Passive Aggression 2023, April

Passive aggression is like the underwater part of the iceberg. It can be more dangerous than overt attacks, because it is harder to spot and defend in time. Even the passive aggressor himself may not be aware of what he is doing, making excuses: “I was just joking!”, “They don't take offense at the truth!”. Often, the manipulator passes off hidden attacks as neutrality or even benevolence! How to bring this type to clean water?

Toxic effects

Passive aggression is like spreading poison: this is the so-called "toxic" behavior.

The victim's self-esteem falls, a persistent feeling of his own inferiority, worthlessness and failure arises, the mood deteriorates, a pessimistic attitude and negative future scenarios are formed. Often, the counterpart of a passive aggressor abandons his plans: faced with depreciation, he no longer believes that something will work out, and does not even want to try.

So, after the “friendly” advice of a colleague, I once gave up the idea of publishing a manuscript for a year, while later the book was a success.

Passive aggression. How to recognize?

Surely you have encountered the following situations:

  • After an outwardly "nice" conversation, you have a "bitter aftertaste."
  • The other person didn’t say anything clearly negative, but you felt discounted.
  • As a result of the conversation, you began to doubt yourself (feeling stupid, fat, unsuccessful, etc.).
  • After "friendly advice" and "support" give up long-term plans and ideas.
  • You ask for advice, but you only get an indication of errors.
  • You proudly shared your successes, and after the response of the interlocutor, you stopped counting them as achievements.
  • Seek support and receive criticism.
  • The interlocutor begins to discuss you and your life without asking from you and does it critically.
  • We met the one who escalates the situation. Often, such people do not turn to someone in particular, but let their remarks fly into the air: "Soon everything will be even worse", "Solid bad omens lately." As a rule, the phrase begins with the words “I hope you won’t be offended”, “I don’t want to hurt anyone” and the like. If your interlocutor uses such constructions, remove the “not” particle and you will understand his true intentions.

Who becomes the aggressor and how?

Aggression is a natural, innate feeling given to us to protect ourselves and our interests. But if an animal attacks only in specific situations, with us, humans, everything is much more complicated, and aggression from an instinctive tool of self-defense often turns into an unhealthy mechanism of destruction. Why?

Instinct makes our hostility look for a way out through the body: screaming, hitting and biting the offender. But such manifestations from early childhood are inhibited by education. Man is a social animal, and his behavior must be controlled and socially acceptable.

Many faces of emotion

Psychology professor and expert on aggression, Arnold Bass, has identified several types of aggression:

  • Physical - using force against another person.
  • Indirect - indirect or non-directional.
  • Verbal - formal (shouting, screeching) or meaningful (cursing, threats).
  • Irritation is the willingness to express negativity.
  • Negativism is passive or active opposition to rules.
  • Resentment - including for fictional actions.
  • Suspiciousness - even painful and harmful.
  • Feelings of guilt are self-directed.

It is important for adults to teach a child to deal with their aggression well, which means to be aware of it in time and express it in socially acceptable ways or to restrain it. A healthy model is to be direct about your feelings. But not in all families this is possible, and as a result, the child, having not learned to express his anger and resentment directly, turns into an aggressor himself.

In some families there is an unspoken taboo on aggression, and maybe even on feelings in general. And family members express their emotions indirectly: for example, instead of “I'm angry with you,” they say, “Let's teach, otherwise you'll be disgraced again.” The mechanism of passive aggression is fixed in childhood: it begins to form before school, and is established in adolescence. So, sometimes a person himself sincerely does not understand that he is showing destructiveness: from childhood he is used to suppressing aggression. And he doesn't know how to act differently.

Passive aggression. How to fight?

Step 1

To legalize the aggression, that is, to make it explicit, returning the attacker responsibility for his actions. The following phrases will help you:

“So, what is happening now?”, “What are you doing now?”, “Do you want to devalue me, hurt me?”, “For what purpose are you saying this?”, “What is your reaction from me now? are you waiting? " This provides a chance to rebuild relationships.

Step 2

If legalization does not help and the interlocutor denies aggression, you need to protect yourself: either distance yourself, or strengthen the borders. Sometimes distancing or even cutting off communication is the best solution. Let there be pluses in communication, but if such a minus is attached to them, then in a relationship, as in mathematics, “plus for minus gives a minus”.

Christina and Tatiana have been friends since childhood. Tatiana married early, Christina was "in search". At some point, Christina began to notice: Tatyana devalues all her fans, while setting her own relationship as an example of her husband. Tatyana explained what was happening by taking care of her friend, in fact she entered into a competitive relationship and behaved passively-aggressively. When Christina got married, she realized that her friend devalued her marriage and seeks to destroy, instilling doubt in her husband and in his love. No matter how bitter it was for Christina to stop communicating with her childhood friend, she decided and kept the marriage.

Step 3

But it is not always possible to distance yourself from a passive aggressor: he can be a colleague, neighbor, relative … And then, while maintaining the density of communication, you can change your attitude to the situation: strengthen psychological boundaries by developing stability, not taking this person's words to heart and not succumbing on provocations. In this case, contact statements will help you - short remarks instead of dialogue: "Oh, it looks like you are in a bad mood …", "Thank you for sharing your opinion …", "I heard you …", "Well, it looks like, we see it differently."

For a person, the other person is always an object to satisfy his aggressiveness

Sigmund Freud

Alina's relationship with her mother-in-law did not go well: she was initially against the marriage of her beloved son, believing that only a "princess" was worthy of him. Alina constantly had to deal with depreciation and criticism. There were no open attacks, because the mother-in-law considered herself "intelligent" and feigned politeness. When Alina stopped succumbing to provocations, her mother-in-law was surprised and after a few months she also rebuilt her behavior.

What am I?

It may well be that in the passive aggressor you recognized … yourself. How to get out of this role? More often ask questions: "What feelings do I feel now?", "What do I really want to say?", "What kind of reaction do I expect from the interlocutor?" Learn to talk about your negative feelings directly: "I am offended (a)", "Very angry", "It looks like I'm annoyed (a)", "I envy you."

Find other channels for the withdrawal of aggression, for example, through the body, through movement: walking, playing sports, dancing and other physical activity. By changing yourself, your reactions and behavior, you also change the world around you: relatives, friends; passing on healthier behaviors to children.

Expert opinion

Reconciliation with yourself

Helga ALEXANDROVA, personal and family psychologist
Helga ALEXANDROVA, personal and family psychologist

Unfortunately, passive aggression can overtake us everywhere: at home, at work, and in a public place. This happens suddenly, and most often we are not psychologically prepared for this. Ambiguous looks, chuckles behind our backs, twisted facial expressions, a contemptuous grin, short phrases depreciating achievements and merit, jokes, jokes, "good-natured advice" on how to live correctly, and much more - everything that throws us out of peace of mind, violates our inner stability and faith in ourselves, in our strength, faith in tomorrow.

The secret of opposition is to develop a stable psychological immunity to "poisonous" people! Remember: you are first of all a person, individuality, uniqueness! Be yourself, don't be afraid of yourself. Your life is your individual style, your unique style. Not everyone will accept it, not everyone will understand it, so checking yourself against the opinions and reactions of other people is a waste of nerves. Check yourself against yourself and with what you know about yourself, and then you will definitely not be hooked.


personal and family psychologist

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