Simple Sanity

How To Stop Being a Passive-Aggressive Witch

For some time, I’ve had a friend I no longer like. She is one of my oldest friends and it slowly turned sour. I feel fake. I can see the steam of judgement fuming from my skin. I notice those eye rolls I make, because they happen so often it hurts. The resentment and irritation get the best of me. I don’t even like who I am when I act this way. I don’t think she’s even that bad… She has a wonderful heart and many of my best times have been by her side. It’s my passive-aggressive nature that’s reached a point where there is no coming back. Marrium-Webster defines passive-aggression as:

“Being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)”.

Here are various ways you can show your passive aggression:

  • Pretend to like someone because you aren’t able to be honest with them
  • Say you agree with something when you really don’t
  • Tell people what they want to hear, even if you don’t agree
  • Say one thing (to look like you are playing nice with the group) but do another
  • Dislike or hate someone but don’t tell them because you are too scared
  • Become angry but take it out quietly or in snarky ways

Now all stories are two-sided, so what really happened? I let little annoyances pile up. I bent over backwards for little to no recognition. Most of the time it’s because I take pride in helping others. I don’t expect anything in return. But I can read when it has transitioned from acceptance to abuse of kindness. And that, my friend, infuriates me…not the first or second slip up, but after some time, I am thoroughly offended, but of course, too scared to speak up. My personal favorite tool is sarcasm. Pretending to listen or care while secretly thinking you are stupid is a close favorite. But it hurts me too, likely more than it hurts others.

passive-aggressive

 

It all snowballed because of an avoidance of conflict. A deep, rooted fear that the conflict would somehow soil the relationship. When in fact, speaking up was the only way to avoid my blow out. So before you let a bunch of little things pile up and you explode, here is what you (and I) can stop being so passive-aggressive:

Be more assertive– What is it that’s stopping you from engaging in direct communication? For me it’s part fear, and part anger. If the friendship is worth saving you should get over the anger and understand that you can’t grow from fake, indirect communication. If your friend is worth it, they will appreciate your thoughts. Give them the information they need to fix this and start that conversation before piling more “things that piss me off” to your list. Work up that courage to talk in a calm, collected, and authentic manner.

Stop being sarcastic– When it comes to dealing with conflict, sarcasm is not the way to go. When you catch yourself, stop; ask yourself, am I providing my friend with information to work on this? Or am I just pissing everyone off (myself included)?

Stop being so damn scared of conflict– This quote by Michael Batshaw, LCSW, a New York City-based psychologist who specializes in couples, sums it up well, “Engaging in conflict isn’t going to end the relationship, it’s avoiding the conflict [that might].” Amen to that. Conflict can often lead to closer relationships, mutual understanding, and higher levels of happiness. It won’t always work out perfectly but it is a damn better alternative to feeling angry, alone, and fake.

Talk when you are calm– Occasionally, I get  easily flustered and I will need breather. That’s fine. Take a step back or a week off (I took two months off from this friend but hey, I was bitter). Then talk when you are ready to communicate assertively without being mean.

Apologize– This one isn’t always necessary but if you’ve been like me: bitchy, sarcastic, snide you may need to apologize before finally owning up to what’s truly eating at you. I’d like to think we passive-aggressive folks can be really good friends but sometimes we get really upset, explode, and make manageable fights, into huge, catastrophic events. Apologize for anything out of line and then explain where you are coming from and what you both can do to move past the storm.

Stressed on the Inside, Calm on the Outside

Whether you are planning a big, stressful corporate event, or job hunting and scared about how you will pay the next rent check, appearing cool and collected to outsiders is key. After all, no one likes dealing with someone in freak out mode. Bad energy hurts you and those around you.

While the timing doesn’t seem just right to share what’s eating me, this fortune cookie couldn’t have come at a better time. I got it yesterday while grabbing lunch with my mama’ in San Francisco’s vibrant China Town. I’m not one for superstition but in that moment the universe felt perfectly aligned, like I was in the right restaurant, at just the right time, eating the right fortune cookie, receiving a message from afar: Breathe, Juliet. Stop panicking. Everything will be okay. The future is bright.

fortune_cookie

In all honesty, I need a support system right now. But I can’t turn to my most-trusted confidant just yet. I can’t put any additional stress on my mom. She’s always been my rock and the one I come running to with my tears and worries. But since I can’t do that right now, how can I deal with my anxiety? Who can I turn to? How can I stay optimistic and sane?

1. Fake it Until you Make It: Long ago, I heard that emotions are strongly tied to the physical. So, anytime I get sad, I force a smile, and to my pleasant surprise, I actually feel happier. Yes, that means smiling may cause happiness. Imagine the implications. Now, I’m not saying to ignore your tears or emotions (getting out your tears is a great therapy in its own right) but you may find that turning a frown upside down will actually trigger authentic, positive feelings.

2. Get Rid of the Negative Energy: It may seem to go against the first piece of advice, but I’d disagree. There are times to put on a smile and hopefully start feeling genuine happy, calm emotions, and there are times to tap into your worries and get them out of your system! You can do this in a positive way by going on a long run, meditating at yoga, getting a massage, unwinding with a bubble bath, destroying a punching bag, or even drawing or writing in a journal. And if all of these really don’t do it for you, there is no shame in crying. While the research is mixed on whether there is really such a thing as “a good cry,” (some of us feel better after crying, some of us feel worse, and some of us feel about the same) it’s still a way to get rid of built up energy and feelings.

3. Don’t be a drama queen (king): If you are stressed out, odds are that things could go wrong. This does not mean that some major catastrophe is right around the corner. Get a grip on what is eating at you, and take a proactive approach to avoid this. Sometimes this means asking for help, or creating a more realistic plan for yourself. Don’t think of life as a giant, catastrophic soap opera. This is an opportunity; make the best of it.

4. Create your own sanctuary: Whether it’s getting your friend to watch your favorite show with you, retreating to your bedroom and listening to a relaxing playlist, or lighting some candles around the house, you can create an environment or ritual that signifies “official chill out time.”

5. Breathe: Panic mode creeping up on you? Take a deep breathe and engage in controlled, relaxed breathing. Take a look at these 3 Effective Anxiety Breathing Exercises to calm your mind and body.

sunshine

How To Deal with the Fact that your Parents Aren’t Perfect

My parents have flaws. They are far from perfect; they are humans. My mother, who I admire for raising me as a single mom and whom I respect and love has shown me a glimpse of a crazy, deep, anxious, black hole that stirs inside of her. We all have our boiling points, but I have been scared at witnessing hers. Although a rarity to catch, it is depressing, heart-breaking, and enraging at once.

My father, who I spent much of my life repairing my relationship with, grew once again to be an angel in my eyes. But again, this picture was stained. Disappointed, angry that we fight in cycle, I realized he too is imperfect, as am I.

I am lucky to have them both, but it is truly crushing to realize that parents have flaws. Even with divorced parents and “family issues,” I had a vision of them being super heroes, role models, and people I aspired to be one day. Yet, I am coming to terms with this new reality and working to be less of a judgmental daughter.

My parents cheer me on at my UCSB graduation. I wouldn't be anything without them both.
My parents cheer me on at my UCSB graduation. I wouldn’t be anything without them both.

Points To Consider:

Our parents “style” may be a product of the environment they were raised in– My father came from an abusive and broken home. My dad has been nothing but loving towards me when I see him, but I better understand why giving me money and presents may have been the only way he knew how to show his love for me. I have been angry for a long time that he chose sending gifts over talking with me on the phone, but he has shared his story with me and is making an effort to know me better.

Our parents may be suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues– Parents are susceptible to these issues too, and as an adult I would like to be there for both of them, available with support, comfort, a laugh, a hug, or a listening ear.

Our parents may be stressed– Both my mother and father are dealing with economic woes, layoffs, and relationship troubles. I have stressed out, freaked out, and scared parents. I know they have laid back, loving, and light-hearted spirits inside of them too. I hope I can help keep these circumstantial issues from getting the best of them, and the best of me.

Reflections on my first 1/4 century on earth

This post is a couple of months belated. I turned twenty-five late March and celebrated by going on a dinner cruise on the Horn Blower with my lovely mama and boyfriend. It was a nice little outing that gave us an awesome view of both the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. It was a refreshing detour from the past few years of clubbing, drinks, and repeat. I felt all grown up with the fancy buffet and snazzy faux fur coat.

 

Lately I have been thinking of where I am today versus where preteen-me thought I would at this age. I used to think “old” was early twenties and that you were supposed to be successful, with your own house, family, and steady job. Now that just seems laughable; really though, that’s nearly unheard of in San Francisco. Each year, my threshold of “old” gets older and older, and in my book, being married with kids at this age is doing it all wrong (it’s just not for me.) I have so much of the world left to see…and they say 70 is the new 60.

At twenty-five, I am as big of a dreamer as ever and luckily, do not have anything tying me down. This year, I hope to grow a little happier and prouder of myself each day (in body, spirit, and soul), explore more countries, have fun, and take it step-by-step. Gone are the days when had a goal-age for growing up. Now I am just trying to put that on hold until the day I change my mind, if ever.

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