Saturday, 12 April 2014

death to passive aggression

I don't necessarily feel that I produce the most poetic content on my Facebook page, but I do often feel called to write there and leave loving advice and points of focus for my tribe. I truly enjoy the engagement on Facebook and I'm grateful every day for the comments I receive. People are so willing to help me see things outside of the box and bring their personal experiences to my attention and this is a huge privilege. It is for this exact reason that I am so open and transparent in return. Tonight, having suffered at the hands of passive aggression from someone in my household (which I responded to with hardcore authenticity because, well, we don't want both of us sipping the psychological Kool-Aid), I decided to post this status update. I am leaving it here on the blog too, in the hope that it will help whoever needs to read it.

This isn't a pleasant topic but it's something that I really felt called to write about, so I'm hoping that it will be helpful and illuminating to some of you lovely ones out there. Passive aggression is an act of indirect hostility, either through word or deed. It happens when one is afraid to directly address their anger, resentment or disappointment towards the person who has triggered it. Therefore they will often resort to insults or character assassinations which APPEAR to be generalised and non-specific but are actually said with a particular person or group in mind. Passive aggression can also come in the form of hostile jokes, sarcasm, surliness or deliberate avoidance. Passive aggression can find its way onto social media platforms just as much as it occurs on the material plain. 

I have engaged in passive aggression myself when I have been afraid to say something directly and I have also been the victim of it many times. I see it as one of the most poisonous forms of communication because it permits us to avoid the responsibility and bravery which comes with opening up and being honest. It also (obviously) makes the victim of the passive aggression feel paranoid, insecure, belittled and unable to actually CONFIRM their suspicions: the very act of passive aggression permits the perpetrator to deny it to the hilt and accuse their victim of being paranoid when, in fact, they ARE reading the situation correctly. This then becomes what is known as 'gaslighting': convincing someone that their correct assumptions are false and ludicrous.  

I feel that when we resort to passive aggression, we often do so because we are scared of what the reaction will be if we are just up-front and honest. Owning your words is not easy when you know that the other person might find them hard to swallow. Passive aggression is also the product of social conditioning. Many of us are trained from a young age not to 'rock the boat' or 'cause a scene', and this leads us to stay silent on some of the things which have hurt or angered us. We can't stomach the silence - we WANT to speak. So, rather than breaking our conditioning down and embracing our true voice, we resort to sniping, backbiting or making hostile comments which are deliberately targeted whilst also being easy to deny. 

If you are currently dealing with someone who is being passive aggressive towards you, your response should always be in alignment with YOUR core values. NEVER lower yourself to someone else's level. If the way they are behaving is upsetting to you, don't behave the same way in return. Why? Because you're not being true to yourself when you do that. If you know that their words or actions are poisonous, don't swallow that same poison yourself. If the person is a friend or loved one - show them what authenticity really looks like. Talk to them honestly and openly, invite dialogue, tell them that you're feeling the vibes and you want to try and communicate with them and get on a level. If they deny their behaviour or refuse to talk openly, that is their choice and not your responsibility. You did what you could. It's then time to take some distance from that person for your own sake. It could be resolved organically or they could take you up on your invitation, but either way - you are using your personal power by refusing to expose yourself to their comments or actions. 

If you are experiencing passive aggression from people online with whom you are not overtly connected, simply disassociate yourself. Since I first started my 'cyber footprint' in 2002, I have dealt with several videos and blog posts containing veiled insults or character deformations about me. Some of them were even things which other people directed me to because it was so obvious to them that it was addressed to me. I didn't respond. I rose above it, and it felt good. 

If you are ENGAGING in passive aggression yourself, the important thing is NOT to beat yourself up over it. There are underlying REASONS for your passive aggression and they are usually fear-based mechanisms. You will need to look at the conditioning you've absorbed about what it means to speak your truth and feel permitted to say what's on your mind. You may also need to look within yourself for recurring patterns and feelings which have more to do with YOU than with the person you're attacking. If you are being passive aggressive and it's making you feel crappy, then you're already halfway towards releasing the behaviour. Catch yourself in the act each time and tell yourself, lovingly, to stop. There is a better way. 


Love to you and death to passive aggression. Heal your true voice and let it shine.