Passive Aggression Red Flags and Treatment

Passive Aggression Red Flags and Treatment


There are certain situations where we feel upset or angry about or by certain things, but we do not talk about it openly. Instead, we rather indirectly express our negative feelings. This behavior of indirectly expressing negative feelings is known as Passive-Aggression. For e.g Person A is angry and frustrated, but they are all calm, cheerful, and much more when we look at them. (Passive aggression counseling is helpful in such scenario)


This behavior shows that they are hiding their actual real feelings. Furthermore, later the negative emotions come out indirectly. Due to this, there is a difference in what they are saying and what they are actually doing. 


For example, a passive-aggressive child may agree to their parent's rules happily, but in reality, they are not in favor of that rule instead of opposing it. So the child might do things that are opposite to the rule imposed by the parent. For example, if the rule is to come back from play at 6 pm, but if the child is not in favor of this rule, then they might not express it, but instead they will not come at six and will try ways to oppose it this rule.


Another example of passive aggression might be-a wife and her husband are working from home from the same room. The wife might be upset by her husband, but she did not express it. If that time, the husband asks to pass on the water bottle or charger. She might not do it or throw it angrily at him. 


Red Flags of Passive-Aggression


  • If the person is seen to not agree to the instructions given but will still do what they want, but will express it in other ways.

  • Procrastinating; Might be seen in delaying a task requested by others. 

  • Might be seen criticizing others and blaming others.

  • Hostile attitude

  • The tasks are being performed inefficiently.

  • They might be seen complaining a lot about how they are underappreciated.

  • Always has an attitude of sarcasm or of argumentative.


Causes of Passive-Aggression


There can be some environmental factors, such as if a person who grows up in a family where directly expressing emotions is discouraged. So instead of directly communicating, it is found typical to rather rely on passive aggression.  So such people might end up channeling their anger and frustration to something else. Therefore parenting style, the family dynamics also play a role here says the best psychologist in delhi. 


 There can also be a biological cause. It can be seen in children who do not feel safe communicating directly. If the parents are using passive aggression then the child is also likely to use this.


Adults also use this passive aggression may be because they do not want to spoil their reputation, fall into socially desirable behaviors, and want to avoid confrontation as mostly seen by psychologists. It is taught from childhood which situations are we supposed to express our emotions and in which way. So falling into the trap of being socially accepted, people might go for passive-aggression when they feel frustrated or angry.


There can be inevitable consequences in expressing their anger or talking about it openly, so they may clearly avoid doing so. So people might try to take the easier road where they feel that standing up for themselves is really difficult and it might scare them. Therefore the easier way out is to hide the feeling and instead express it indirectly.


There could be some childhood influences that might play a role, such as being abused during childhood, being harassed sexually, faced harsh punishments, and even if the child was being neglected. 


It is also seen in people who are suffering from disorders such as bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, stress, depression, substance abuse, conduct disorder, personality disorder, low self-esteem, Schizophrenia, oppositional defiant disorder.  


Coping up or treatment of Passive-Aggression


We might recognize other's passive aggression, but what if we are the ones who are doing the same? So first we need to understand self and see if we are the one who is doing so? We can do so by asking ourself questions such as-if we avoid people when we are angry?; if we use sarcasm a lot or criticize others often?; if we procrastinate things in order to punish others? By asking such questions, we might understand if we use passive aggression. We might go to a therapist for passive aggression counseling to manage such behaviors.


If we go to a therapist to reduce the passive-aggressive behavior, the therapist might help us understand and identify the areas where we use this type of aggression. They might also help us work through our anger and low self-esteem issues which are affecting our passive-aggression. There can be training used such as assertive training in reducing such behavior by teaching us the ways with which we can express ourselves openly and also what concerns us. They can make us aware of the causes of such behaviors and, if possible, can work upon the cause. 


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Aleena Thakurta

Aleena Thakurta

Inter at Psychowellnesscenter