We all encounter passive-aggressive behaviour at some point. From the friend who refuses to let you know what you did wrong but continuously snaps at you, to the co-worker who avoids eye contact in an attempt not to speak to you or tells the whole office how you offended him and speaks on the phone while you’re talking. But while it’s easy to spot when it’s happening to us, it’s not always easy to know when we’re doing it.
Being passive-aggressive doesn’t mean we’re bad. It’s a strategy we use when we think we don’t deserve to speak our minds or we’re afraid to be honest and open.
I once fell into this category. My heart wanted to be truthful about how I felt, but I worried that I might end up losing a friend or my colleague would be upset if I expressed my honest feelings. So I kept quiet, and in my silence I was angry – angry for allowing myself to be spoken to like that, angry for letting people spread their warped opinion of me and not standing up for myself. This went on for years. In an instant, I would distance myself from the perpetrators and never feel the need to explain my behaviour. I deleted people from my phone, stopped answering calls and totally cut off all communications. This state of being was frustrating at times, but I felt I had total control. My actions were my way of saying that I disapproved of their behaviour.
But how could I be authentic in relationships if I was dishonest with myself? Living a lie and pretending I was okay, and remaining locked up in a little bubble of fear would eventually lead me to state of denial and even paranoia. When that happens, everyone becomes a suspect and we become overly emotionally sensitive, even at the drop of a pin.
Some of us have developed habits from our pain, habits that stunt our growth. Without being conscious of the negative effects that those habits create in our lives, we continue to have a false sense of existence, which is contrary to the life that God has planned for us. God has a way of using our imperfections to help us navigate our way back to him.
When we speak from a place of love, we cannot go wrong. Even if the recipient doesn’t receive what has been said, we should continue to speak with love. When we hold onto things and do not speak from a place of truth or honesty, we begin to exhibit behaviour that doesn’t build trust. If someone offends you, speak to them in love; if another hurts you, still speak from a place of love. Love covers multitude of sins. In love, we see the workings of peace. In love, we are set free from the shackles and bruises inflicted by pain, hurt, offence, bitterness, un-forgiveness, disappointment and anger.