Passive aggressive behaviour can be difficult to recognise at first. It is recognisable by the disconnect between what the person says and what they do. Passive aggressive people tend to express their negative feelings in an indirect manner, rather than state their disapproval directly to the person concerned. There tends to be a great deal of hostility associated with passive aggressive behaviour and a great deal of this tends to be derived from miscommunication, failure to communicate or the assumption that the other person knows what they are thinking or feeling. From a relationship perspective, passive aggressive behaviour can be the most difficult communication style to deal with as you are not quite sure what you are dealing with.What is passive aggressive behaviour?
Passive aggressive behaviour is intended to control the other person e.g. control their emotions. It is then hoped that they can manipulate the other person into doing as they wish. If you have been on the receiving end of passive aggressive behaviour, you will know how easy it is to overreact. And, when you overreact, that is a clear sign that the other person is starting to control you.
Whatever type of passive aggressive behaviour you are experiencing, you need to stay calm and composed, so you can formulate the appropriate response. While it is often hurtful to be on the receiving end of this behaviour, remembering the following points can help you to stay calm:
- Many instances of this behaviour are not actually intended to be hurtful
- They want to control your emotions and behaviour
- You can’t control their behaviour, but you can control your own which stops them from achieving their goal
It is worth noting the 2 types of passive aggressive person:
This person is trying to control and manipulate your, but they usually are not trying to be hurtful. Because they don’t want to hurt you, they avoid expressing any message which may be interpreted as being negative. They may pretend that everything is ok but eventually, their true feelings will seep out through their body language and tone of voice. It then becomes frustrating as you try to get them to open up and tell you the truth.
The big difference here is that this person is not just trying to control you, they are trying to make you feel bad. They are happy to hurt you. So much so, that it becomes a game whereby every interaction is a contest.
These people are usually angry about something but, rather than express their feelings with the person whom they are angry with; they deal with things by manipulating their victim. They try to get rid of their anger by making the victim angry, through manipulation. This allows them to act like the ‘good guy’ while the victim now appears to be the unreasonable one.
The article here
So please, have some understanding for me when I say I need some space. I often make the mistake of holding out too long, pushing myself too far and ending up over the emotional edge because I didn’t stop and recognize what my body and brain were trying to tell me before it was too late. If I get there, there’s not much I can do but go to a quiet place where I don’t have to see or talk or touch anyone and try to use any number of tools — from medication to breathing exercises — to bring myself back to normal.
If you’re going to be in my life, then you should know about this. But if respecting my different needs or believing me when I say I have a need makes you feel hurt, then it’s better we not be friends.
Sometimes, when I get stressed, anxious or frustrated, I break down. The hard part is, it’s not just from things most people would find stressful. In fact, I deal pretty well with the big things: death, breakups, loss of a pet. I know these things are bad and I feel what I would consider “normal” emotions when they happen. Maybe that’s because I know everyone feels them and society accepts those emotions as valid.
The problem is, my emotions don’t just fire off from life-altering occurrences. My body and my brain can’t tell the difference between a life-or-death situation and a normal, everyday stressor. I have the same panicked reaction to misplacing my wedding ring as I might to misplacing my actual husband. My brain and body can go from zero to 100 in two seconds flat. I’m never truly calm: I might look like it on the outside but beneath the surface, there’s a trigger just waiting to flip and throw me into a full-on panic attack. What makes this even more fun is that I have learned to become anxious about the possibility of becoming anxious. If I start to worry that my emotions might get out of control, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’ve been this way my whole life but I never knew there was a name for it. When I “overreacted” as a kid, my parents thought I was just being melodramatic. Maybe they thought I just wanted attention and thought crying was the best way to get it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want nothing more than to be happy. Because, you see, my “happy” is a million times more happy than anyone else’s. Because my emotions are so strong, I don’t need to take drugs to feel the world’s best high. I simply need to be happy for a few minutes and I feel amped up like I’m on drugs — I can write, I can create, I can do anything. Not in a reckless sense: I’ve never driven fast or thought I could fly. It’s just… when I feel good, I feel amazing. The same way that, when I feel bad, I feel like it’s going to kill me.
A couple of years ago, I learned this has a name: emotional intensity. I simply experience the world in levels of color and sound and touch that most people can’t imagine. And of course, levels of emotion. It’s not just emotion, though; I’m sensitive to everything. There are fabrics I can’t bear to touch, sounds I can’t bear to hear, smells that make me want to vomit. Everywhere I go, I have to try to shield myself against things no one ever thinks twice about. I take a dose of NyQuil and I’m hungover for 24 hours. I have to be careful about something as commonplace as a cold pill or the medication they use at the dentist. If I don’t remind a doctor about my overly sensitive nervous system, I can have a terrifying out-of-body experience from stimulants they put in common drugs, which cause me to lose sensation in my limbs and feel like I’m both floating and drowning at the same time.
Most people don’t know this about me and I think I do a pretty good job of hiding it, so maybe that’s part of the problem. When I’m under a lot of stress — say from work, school or other things — or if I’m abnormally tired or hungry, for example, my ability to stay in control goes down. I am at risk of falling to the floor and crying into my hands for as long as it takes to unravel myself from the mental obstacle course I’m jumping through.
So, several years ago, when I started seeking professional help, I learned one coping strategy — remove yourself from the situation. De-escalate. That’s what my doctor said. I started to learn to recognize the feelings of overwhelming emotion or sensation before they got too far and I could tell myself (and others) I needed a break. It’s not always convenient or polite, but it’s what I need to do to prevent losing myself into panic, crying, and if I’m being honest, depressive thoughts that spiral to the darkest places extremely fast.
I’ve gotten better at this over the past few years. I’ve become better at voicing what I need, even if I’m far from perfect. At least now, I can say it’s starting to get bad before I’m “there.” At least now, I can recognize when I can’t handle a single minute more before I’m lying on the floor, pounding my fists into my own body out of frustration and rage.
I’m still working, very hard in fact, to move beyond where I am now to a place where I can not only recognize but stop my emotions in their tracks and separate myself from their painful effects. I have a whole set of professionals, medications, and even an iPhone app (yes, there’s an app for that!) And I swear, I’m trying my damnedest to get through life in a way most people take for granted.