Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Passive Aggressive Aggressive?

CancerGirl had an "incident" yesterday  and was accused of being "Passive Aggressive" and "unstable",  she was pretty hurt by this as she tries to not have those kind of traits.  After a few hours of contemplating (and honestly being VERY VERY upset about the whole situation) she called SuperShrink to get his views on it.  I have been seeing him for over 10 years now, and well, he is my sounding board and I can always count on him to tell me if I am justified in my feelings or not.

When someone has been abused in their past they tend to not trust their feelings.  They learn to push those feelings down and not acknowledge them, this causes one to not be able to tell when they are being abused.  Those internal "This isn't right, I need to do something about this" messages get ignored, and it becomes easier to ignore them in the future.  Because of this, CG tends to not speak up when someone has wronged her, and rather then confront the person head on, she will speak about the situation in very general terms.

When I asked SS if he thought I was passive aggressive, he said "Yes, but I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing", I was kinda shocked because I had always thought of it as being a negative thing.  He went on to explain that many times people feel that being "passive aggressive" is a bad thing and they have guilt feelings for it but that it in fact is many times it is better then being "outright aggressive" as that would be very very wrong.  One of the things that I appreciate about him is that he is very god at breaking things down for me.  This was his explanation on the positives of being Passive aggressive"...

If someone is being passive aggressive they may say something like "Some people just don't know when to keep their big mouths shut and mind their own business". This is very passive aggressive.  It makes a statement about someone or something that does not specifically name that person or thing.  This leaves people to look at their own behavior and consider their own thoughts and behavior in relation to this statement.  Those who you may be meaning the comment for may well see that as an attack upon them, but that is their own issues and I am not responsible for what others "read into" such a comment.

Being outright Aggressive would be to say "Melanoma Man just doesn't know when to keep his big mouth shut and mind his own business", this is very aggressive and very mean.  Not only does MM know this comment is directly about him, but so does EVERYONE who sees or hears such a comment.  This brings that person into the spotlight and does not allow them any opportunity to think about their behaviors within themselves and possibly change based on their own perceptions.  It also doesn't give them any way to not be "defensive", as aggression usually causes defense against the aggression.   I think I would rather be "passive aggressive" then be outright aggressive and cause hurt feelings.  PA also can cause feelings ot be hurt, but because I didn't call people out or put them in the "spotlight" it is their own issues if they get upset by such things.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions, but as for me, I will continue to take the high road and not name names, if those who are in my life see that as a problem, well then they are more then welcome to remove themselves.  As SS said, if I change every thing that someone doesn't like about me (and there will be things, as everyone has different views and truths) that I will lose myself, and that it is far better to loose people who don't love and respect me then to loose myself. 

As for my being "unstable", SS had some very good points on that and I was greatly appreciative of them.  He explained that if I didn't value and cherish my sanity and stability (which honestly he is even amazed by and those who know me and knew me 10 years ago are as well) that such a comment wouldn't have bothered me whatsoever.  He also explained that very often when someone is unhappy with the truth, they tend to turn the other person into someone who is unstable.   It makes it easier to excuse the actual truth.  He pointed out the ways that I am actually more stable then many out there, and most likely even more so then those who said the same thing about me.  I laughed about this but he said "I am serious, are they going to a therapist every week and talking about themselves and looking into their own lives and their own actions? Are they spending hours a week actively pursuing their own sanity by seeking the help that they need?".  I told him I didn't know if they were or not.  he said that it is very easy for those who DON'T spend time looking into their own behavior and actions to be judgmental because  they tend to not see how their actions and words can hurt others.  He also pointed out just how "outright aggressive" calling me passive aggressive and unstable actually is and I tend to think he is right.

In the interest of not being "unknowingly passive aggressive" I will say now that this post is meant to be passive aggressive, it is meant to have others think about their own behavior and actions, and it is meant to do so in a "not putting them in the spotlight" manner.  In other words "You know who you are". 


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  3. In having known you a little for the last couple of years, I will say that you impress me as an ethical and thoughtful person, not likely to act in an aggressive manner. At the same time, you strike me as one who may be overly sensitive in some respects (or generally vulnerable)--including questions of having hurt someone when this may not have been the case.

    It is difficult to reply to the posting above w/o having any details of the encounter. You provide only a very sketchy account. Please elaborate. Then, we may be able to intelligently provide you with feedback.

    For now, my hunch is that someone was coercive or aggressive toward you, and you--in defense--were somewhat resistant or assertive. In this context (and the context is ALWAYS important), this was probably a perfectly legitimate response. And, the big deal about being PASSIVE AGRESSIVE, is probably representative of the other person's resenting your defending yourself (and labeling this negative behavior), which is very common with bullies. In reality, you acted in your best interest (and to protect yourself), which is always acceptable, in my book. Incidentally, that labeling is-itself-an act of agression.

    This behavior has the same flavor as the husband's who severely beats his wife. He takes a deep breath, and yells,"Why do you make me act this way?!!" Do you get it? ; )

    At the tail-end, you make it plain that this posting was meant to be passive agressive, which strikes me as odd. A better message, in my view, would be to say you are comfortable in being assertive, and in standing strong as a confident, independent woman (and that you are not willing to take any sh*t from ANYONE). ; )

  4. Perhaps I will add that there are some psych. techniques which are very potent in helping to dispel the huge (and unnecessary)upset which sometimes accompanies these encounters. If you stewed about the issue for ten hours, this pretty likely falls in this category, dontcha think? Incidently, I have "been there" many, many times, myself.


  5. The "stewing" was more about weather or not I was right to be angry about the situation or not. I purchased something from someone for a small amount (under 100 dollars) and I was unable to repay them myself in person and I asked a mutual friend to repay them and the mutual friend tried to do so and the person refused saying "I want it directly from CG" which I said "Fine, when I see her next I will repay her then". I did the best I could with the situation at hand. This person then went around to others and rather then telling them the whole story about how she refused to be paid by a mutual friend (which I offered to paypal the money to THAT DAY because the person I made the purchase from doesn't have paypal, the crux of the issue) she told them all how I "screwed her out of money" and those people rather then saying "Hey why don't you talk to CG about it" decided that a post I made about something completely different and not having anything to do with anyone in particular, (the supposedly passive agressive post) these people decided to make that post about them, and then after me on behalf of the friend and started hounding me for the money. My mutual friend tried a number of times to get them to stop because well, she knew the entire situation and knew that I was not n the wrong and that I had done my best to hold up my end. I was angry that A) the person didn't come to me and say "HEy I know XYZ tried to give me the money, but when will I see you? B) she refused the money offered and then used the fact she hadn't been repaid to make me look like someone who doesn't pay their debts and tried to ruin my reputation, which my shrink says I need to consider if I really care about the people who which my reputation was ruined with (ie how important are those people to my life) and rather then it being a issue involving 2 people, me and her (or 3 if you count the mutual friend) it turned into something that a large number of people knew about.

    I was honestly more upset by the fact that I was going through my life thinking there was no issue as the person didn't come to me, so I assumed that waiting was ok with her as if it wasn't why didn't she take it when it was offered (ironically she would have only had to wait till this sat when I saw the mutual friend and could give her the money, which I am still going to do of course) and when I tried to defend myself and express that I was upset and angry I was accused of starting "drama", which I found even more upsetting because I didn't understand why it was thought I had no right to be angry about it. Your description of it being a "bully" situation actually hadn't come to mind, but the more I think about it I think you are right.

    I guess I admitted to the post being passive aggressive because I was "talking about someone but not really naming them". I have lost a friend over this, but my therapist suggested that it is possible that friend is not worth keeping if she would do such a thing, and I tend to err on the side of agreeing with him. I honestly am no longer upset about really because the most upset I had was the fact that the person didn't come to me, and I know that tomorrow when I repay the money it will be doing so with a completely clean conciounce and that if the others involved still feel I was in the "wrong" then that is on them and they are welcome to not be my friend anymore.

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