I used to watch a lot of chick flicks when I was in high school. I mean, I still do, but I’m not watching them with the same passion as I did when I was younger. Now, they taught me to be overly dramatic, but what they also did was show me that being passive aggressive was the right way to get someone to react. And learning how to stop being passive aggressive was the only way to deepen my relationships.
How to stop being passive aggressive
If you see that your passive aggressive behavior actually destroys your relationships, well, you’re one step closer to getting yourself out of this toxic mental state. And when I mean toxic, I really mean it.
Passive aggressiveness isn’t about expressing your emotions in a healthy and open way. Instead, it’s about manipulating others around you so that you don’t have to open yourself up and express what you really feel. Trust me, being passive aggressive won’t get you anywhere.
#1 Accept that you’re passive aggressive. No one wants to be called passive aggressive. It’s not the best personality trait. But listen, you are passive aggressive. This doesn’t make you evil, it makes you human. So, just accept the fact that you are and then move forward. Once you accept this behavior, you have the power to change it. [Read: 14 steps to unfake your life and love being you]
#2 Start becoming self-aware. You probably don’t even notice you’re being passive aggressive or maybe you do but you can’t help yourself. It’s time to become more self-aware. It’s the only way you’ll see why you do what you do and what causes this reaction. So, if you argue with someone, after it’s over, think about how it started, what you said, and how it was resolved. [Read: 16 powerful secrets of self-improvement]
#3 What are your triggers? Are you always like this with everyone? Or is there something specific that makes you respond in this manner? It could be you act this way when you know you’re wrong and you use this as a defense mechanism. Perhaps you behave like this when someone isn’t doing what you want. Regardless, there’s a trigger, there always is. However, to see it, you need to be self-aware.
#4 Listen to the words you speak. Are you listening to what actually comes out of your mouth? Okay, you’re probably not, because honestly, not many of us do. But now is the time to hear yourself and the phrases you use which are passive aggressive. Usually, most of us use passive aggressive phrases such as “whatever,” “it’s fine,” “I was only joking,” “I thought you knew.”
#5 Passive aggressiveness stems from within. This isn’t because of someone else. This isn’t because your partner doesn’t do what you want them to do or because the lady standing behind you in the grocery store line is a little too close. This is internal.
Passive aggressive behavior isn’t necessary to solve the problems with either of these people. Direct conversation could easily solve the issue without any negative effect. Your passive aggression is because you don’t value yourself like you should.
#6 Confrontation isn’t negative. This is what I don’t get. So many people associate confrontation as something negative. This is because we’re taught that it’s bad. However, confrontation isn’t actually bad. Confrontation is about directly discussing an issue. This doesn’t mean it has to end in a fist fight, this simply means you deal with the problem head-on. [Read: 6 reasons people have a fear of confrontation]
#7 Ask yourself why you’re angry. What is it about this specific situation that bothers you? You need to know this if you’re going to be direct about your feelings. Being passive aggressive sometimes leaves a hole of uncertainty with our emotions. Whereas, being direct shows you know why you’re feeling a certain way and that you want the situation solved.
#8 Practice being assertive with your emotions. You’re going to need to practice. Maybe you want to express your feelings to your boss but you’re too scared. Okay, don’t worry. Instead, start off small.
Start off by expressing your emotions to your friends, family, and fellow colleagues. Remember, being assertive is about self-love. The more you talk to people about your needs and emotions, it’ll be easier. [Read: How to focus on yourself – 17 ways to make your own sunshine]
#9 Give yourself time. I know you want to change right now. You want to read this feature and then—BAM!—you’re a new person. Hey, I want that too. If that was the case, I would never workout. Never ever. But this isn’t the way things work. So, give yourself time.
Allow yourself room for mistakes because you’re going to make them. But don’t let them phase you—keep going.
#10 Share your feelings and acknowledge theirs. Now, usually passive aggressive people don’t express their feelings. They give some sarcastic remark and point the finger. Not anymore. Instead, share your feelings and also acknowledge how they feel—they have feelings too.
For example, you can say, “I understand that you’re frustrated when I don’t do the laundry, but I’m exhausted when I come home from work and need some time to rest.” You acknowledge how that person feels, while also telling them how you feel. From there, you can come to a compromise. [Read: How to compromise in relationships without feeling like you lost something]
#11 Support your feeling with logic. Now, I get it. Sometimes, we go on an emotional rollercoaster and we blurt out everything we feel. Which, I’m not saying is bad.
However, if you want things to change, express your emotions and then back them up with logic. That way, the other person will be able to see where you’re coming from. So, if someone didn’t clean their workout station at the gym, you can say, “Since we all use this equipment, please clean it when you’re finished using it.”
#12 Put your needs first. By learning how to stop being passive aggressive, you’re working on loving and respecting yourself. With time, you see that through love and respect for yourself, you feel a great importance for your opinion to be heard and respected.
You’ll want to put your needs first and you’ll want others to know what those needs are. The only way to get to this point is to practice putting yourself first. [Read: 15 ways to discover self love and happiness]
#13 Don’t be afraid to get professional guidance. You may be able to work on your passive aggressiveness on your own. But there may be some moments where you’re going to struggle with your emotions. This is completely normal. Why? Because you’re going through the process of change and that always sprouts obstacles.
Though instead of going back to your old ways, push forward and if needed, talk to a therapist who will support you through your journey.
[Read: 15 mature ways to grow up and behave like an adult]
Now that you have the tools to know how to stop being passive aggressive, why not start now. You’ll notice the relationships around you are stronger and you’ll feel better about yourself.
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