No matter what gender someone is or where they have come from, there is likely to be moments where they feel angry. This is part of the human experience and it plays a valuable role in our survival as individuals and as a species.
In most cases, anger is nothing more than feedback and is informing someone that they are being compromised. Their boundaries are being crossed and that some kind of action needs to be taken.
However, this natural and healthy process can end up becoming dysfunctional. And like so many other human aspects; if it is not expressed in a healthy and functional manner.
And while anger is a word and an experience that most people can relate to, there are many other ways that anger can be experienced that are often not as familiar. These are: resentment, irritation, aggression, rage, depression and hate.
At first it will be anger that is experienced, but over time this can turn into these other experiences. This can be due to a numbers of reasons and one of these reasons is repression.
Here, anger can be covered up for what could be a few days, to a number of years. And instead of it being a momentary experience, it then becomes a state of being.
The Cover Up
This may be something that one engages in all of the time or only ignores their anger during certain times and around specific people. But one thing is clear, and that is although one may do all they can to cover up how they actually feel, it will be observable in some way.
There can be many reasons why someone can feel compromised and therefore angry. Some of these can be the result of feeling: abused, ignored, violated and taken advantage of.
If one doesn’t acknowledge how they truly feel and the experience that they are having, it is going to appear in a way that may be dysfunctional and disempowering. And one of the most common ways that this come be known is through passive aggressive behaviour. It could be described as revenge that has been delayed.
This behaviour can be extremely subtle and hard to spot at first. And this has the potential to create frustration and anger in the person who is observing the behaviour.
In some cases, this can lead to one taking on board the anger and frustration that the passive aggressive is not willing to face themselves. Here, one can start to feel angry for no apparent reason when they are around the person. At a conscious level one can be oblivious to this fact, but at an unconscious level, it is being picked up. And confusion then occurs at a conscious level.
But while the observer of this behaviour can feel angry or frustrated, if they were to question the person who is passive aggressive about the role they are playing, they may even dismiss and deny what is taking place. Claiming not to be angry in any way and that the person who is observing this behaviour actually has anger problems.
It could be that they have no awareness of their passive aggressive behaviour. And if one has a pattern of attracting people who are passive aggressive, then they may have some work to do around anger.
Passive aggressive behaviour can appear in many different forms and guises. And some of these are:
· When someone turns up late
· When someone forgets to do something
· When someone becomes cold or distant
· When someone becomes silent
When someone behaves in the ways that have been described above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being passive aggressive. These have to be taken in context and weighted up with other sources of information.
To be passive aggressive is not a functional way of behaving or a sign of maturity. However, it is there for a reason and the primary reason is that it is what feels safe. We all have an ego mind and what is familiar is what is classed as safe. And to be passive aggressive will be what feels safe or comfortable.
If this person was to act another way, there would be the potential for fear to arise. As to the ego mind, if something is unfamiliar it will be interpreted as the equivalent of death
So if this person was to express their anger in a functional and healthy way, it wouldn’t feel comfortable and may even feel dangerous.
For one to express their anger in a healthy and functional way, it will be imperative that they have a healthy relationship with anger. And as anger is often labelled as negative and destructive in today’s world, it is common for people to believe that anger is a bad thing.
One of the biggest influences in the kind of relationship that one has with anger will be their childhood years. If their caregivers dealt with their anger in ways that were generally healthy, it would have been likely that they passed this ability on. And one therefore had healthy models to mirror and internalise.
However, if their caregivers repressed or denied their anger or expressed it but discouraged it in others, then this would have been modelled and internalised. And as a child, ones ego mind would have formed associations around this behaviour being what is familiar and therefore safe. So to behave in another way could cause one to feel: rejected, vulnerable or abandoned for example.
Just because something happened many years ago and the mind has forgotten about it, it doesn’t mean that it is no longer having an effect. And passive aggressive behaviour is just one example of this.
One may need to seek the assistance of a therapist or healer to release the anger that may have built up over the years. Or to have the help of a coach or a trusted friend in order to express anger in a way that is functional and empowering.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.