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How to Stop Being Passive Aggressive: Get Out of the Toxic State

Being passive-aggressive isn’t an admirable trait, so the earlier you learn how to stop being passive aggressive, the better. Keep reading to know how.

how to stop being passive aggressive

If you don’t know what being passive aggressive is, it’s a petty way of reacting when you’re upset with someone. However, it can negatively impact all your relationships and friendships. This is why it’s essential to learn how to stop being passive aggressive.

The thing is, there’s a better way to deal with conflict than by being passive aggressive. [Read: How to resolve conflict: The 15 best ways to cut out the drama]

What does it mean to be passive aggressive?

When you have a habit of being passive aggressive, you don’t deal with conflict directly and straightforwardly. For instance, if you’re mad at your boyfriend, you make it obvious through your behavior instead of telling him about it. So you say that you’re fine, but you’ll do everything to piss him off.

You give him the silent treatment, blast music too loud, or become hostile towards him. This is just one of the examples of passive aggressive behavior, and why it’s sabotaging in both friendships and relationships.

Instead of the mature way of opening up to someone and telling them their behavior bothers you, passive aggressiveness means you express it in more petty ways. [Read: How to deal with passive aggressive behavior calmly & with class]

Why is being passive aggressive destructive?

Not only is it a petty way of dealing with conflict, but you’re being hostile to the people around you. Instead of communicating what you feel constructively and civilly, you resort to passive aggressive tendencies. So if you’re mad at someone, you tell them you’re fine, but then you start to lash out through your actions and behavior.

It’s not a healthy way to deal with conflict but most importantly, you’re acting this way because of an internal issue. Maybe it’s your fear of confrontation, or maybe you feel like your opinions aren’t worth validating, but they’re core reasons why you act the way you are. [Read: Passive aggressive men: How to help them quit playing games]

How to stop being passive aggressive

If you see your passive aggressive behavior destroys your relationships, you’re a step closer to getting yourself out of this toxic mental state. When we mean toxic, we mean it. Passive aggressiveness isn’t about expressing your emotions healthily and openly. [Read: How to express your feelings & get your point across the right 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 us, being passive aggressive won’t get you anywhere. Don’t wait for the day your passive aggressiveness destroys your relationships and pushes them away from you.

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. This is the first step to learning how to stop being passive aggressive.

Just stop all your denial and come to terms with it. 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 takes a lot of self-awareness to catch the moments you’re becoming passive aggressive. So, if you argue with someone, after it’s over, think about how it started, what you said, and how it was resolved.

Also, observe if anything triggers your passive aggressive behavior. Maybe you notice that you tend to be passive aggressive every time you feel anxious, whereas if you feel calm, you normally tell the other person what bothers you. [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.

In relation to the previous point, you need to know what triggers you to learn how to stop being passive aggressive. We all have triggers so the earlier you point out what they are, the better. [Read: Nervous sweating: Recognize the triggers and stop stress sweats]

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.

By being aware of the words you speak, you can find a way to change them. The next time you’re tempted to say “whatever,” try to think of a replacement that doesn’t sound so passive aggressive.

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. Most likely, your passive aggressiveness stems from an internal issue you’re not facing.

Your passive aggression is because you don’t value yourself like you should, or perhaps you’re just afraid of confrontation. So if you want to know how to stop being passive aggressive, then it starts from within.

6. Confrontation isn’t negative

Speaking of a fear of confrontation, here we are. So many people are afraid of confrontation and while it’s a valid fear, there’s nothing you should fear about it. 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.

It’s not necessarily going to end in shouting, cursing, or other forms of anger. If you know how to communicate constructively, then confrontation wouldn’t be something you fear. [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.

So if you want to overcome your passive aggressiveness, find the source of your anger and take it from there. If you fought with your best friend, what about their actions angered you the most and why? [Read: How to stop being angry: Free your mind and stop hurting yourself]

8. Practice being assertive with your emotions

If you don’t know how to voice out your opinions, communicate, or be assertive, it could be the reason why you’re passive aggressive. 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.

Take it one day at a time until finally, you’re confident enough to be assertive to anyone in your life – even your boss! The more you expose yourself to talking with different people, the better you’ll get. [Read: How to focus on yourself – 17 ways to make your own sunshine]

9. Give yourself time

We know you want to change right now. You want to read this feature and then—BAM!—you’re a new person. Hey, we want that too. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. You can’t learn how to stop being passive aggressive overnight. Otherwise, nobody would struggle with this.

You need to be patient with yourself in being better in every conflict you face. You’ll get there, but it takes a lot of self-awareness and patience. Give yourself room for error while also learning from each one. [Read: How to forgive yourself & free yourself of the weight of guilt]

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. You can’t do this anymore if you want to become better. You need to allow yourself to open up your feelings *yes, including your most difficult feelings*.

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.

It’s a huge step when you get to this, so you should be proud of yourself! Sharing feelings is quite difficult for a passive aggressive person, which is all the more reason why you should do it! [Read: How to compromise in relationships without feeling like you lost something]

11. Support your feeling with logic

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.”

Passive aggressiveness often comes from your emotions, so if you want to stop appearing that way when you’re irritated, then back it up with logic. Try it the next time you deal with conflict! [Read: Live by the sun love by the moon: What it means & how to live fully]

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. It’s time to prioritize yourself and listen to your needs and wants if you want to become better.

Passive aggressiveness is often an internal issue, so you need to look within. Is it easy to look within yourself and reflect? No, it’s hard! But it’s often necessary to improve. [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. Don’t believe anyone that ever says you only seek a professional when something is wrong with you.

On the road to improvement, we all need a helping hand sometimes. Instead of going back to your old ways, push forward and if needed, talk to a therapist who will support you through your journey. They’ll give you the right coping mechanisms to deal with your internal issues instead of projecting them out to your loved ones.

[Read: 15 mature ways to grow up and behave like an adult]

So, how to stop being passive aggressive?

By being self-aware of your triggers, patterns, and behavior, you can gradually do something about your passive aggressive tendencies and improve. It won’t take overnight, but you’re one step closer to communicating your needs and thoughts constructively.

Now that you have the tools to know how to stop being passive aggressive, why not start now? This way, you’ll be able to maintain stronger relationships and friendships in your life.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and ...
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