The Inner Conflict that Creates Passive-Aggressive Behavior

My passive-aggressive behavior shows up when I agree to things and then don’t follow through. It goes like this:

Other: Will you do this?

Me: Yes

Other: Ok thanks!

Me: I am still going to do whatever I feel like doing!

My passive-aggressive behavior is the result of a conflict within myself. Part of me (like Superman) believes he can do (and must) do whatever is asked – whatever seems required. Rise to the occassion! Therefore, I do not say no very often.

The other part of me – like a troll under a bridge – is only concerned with getting through the day by doing whatever it feels like doing, without regard for other people.

You might think that the Superman part of me is more concerned for others that it is but that isn’t the case. Superman cannot say no. Superman is concerned with my own survival just as much as the troll. This inner superhero believes it must do “everything” out of self-concern. Too much responsibility was heaped upon this unlikely superhero at too young an age. He has to do it or simply not eat, go to school, or even bathe.

The needs of actual others are lost in this conflict between the part of me that takes on too much responsibility and the part of me that refuses to take on any.

What the solution?

Realize that both parts of self-concerned with survival.

Appreciate both parts. Honor both styles of survival.

Make decisions and commitments from a different place, relieving both of these parts from their burden, freeing them from any responsibility at all. Both of these parts spun off my psyche in childhood, as a result of external circumstances.

However, I am an adult now, living in very different circumstances and with lots more inner and outer resources. I can stop living in the past, forcing these two parts of me to make all the decisions. I can consciously intervene and write a new script!

A new script for passive-aggressive behavior modification

Consider responsibilities and requests from an adult, present-day perspective and make decisions accordingly. There may need to be a few criteria to consider.

  • What I want
  • What others need
  • My capabilities
  • My time
  • Overall goals
  • What makes the most sense

And so on.