This week I wanted to talk about a problem that we all face regularly. Some of us can be more upfront than others, but there are instances where this can help everyone. I hope that it does. After you read, tell me what you think. Do you agree with my idea to solve the problems or do you think that there is a better way to go about it? Let me know in the comments and enjoy!
Being the guy I am, I’m partial to stealth and sneaking around in video games. I enjoy the concept that I can keep the element of surprise. That mentality translates into my daily life, I like surprises and what goes into planning them. Sometimes they are hard to keep, but they are always fun to plan and create. I’ve been interested in magic and sleight of hand my whole life as well, all of these things that require you to be tricky and never reveal what is going on behind the scenes.
However, that mentality in a personal relationship can be awfully dangerous.
I have been chatting with a handful of my friends lately about being passive aggressive, how when you dislike something about someone, rather than confronting them like a mature adult we often slide off into this cloudy passive aggressive magic show where we do things out of anger and assume that the other party will just understand what it was that pissed us off. I think we all do it, and I mean that outside of my group of friends. We might not all be passive aggressive people but that doesn’t mean that we don’t slip up every so often.
I am at fault for this too. The passive aggressive mentality comes along with the idea that stealth and sneaking are cool elements. They are hand in hand with the feeling you get when you are planning a surprise party or a gift for someone. There is an addictive feeling of anticipation there that we all find one way or another. It works in the same way that gambling would. We place our bets, hit the lever, get a rush of dopamine and then we see whether or not we win or lose. It comes with an anticipation. That anticipation is what propels the ideals that we hold close. That other people should just suddenly know what they did to wrong us or why we are upset, even if the reason is petty and short sighted.
We act as if we are hiding a dagger in our cloaks, but we aren’t.
We are hiding it within our own flesh.
This passive aggressive mentality that myself and so many of my peers are familiar with is so much more destructive than being straight up with someone. It pushes us to extend arguments and fights out for days or weeks or months, in some cases, years. It can end friendships much faster than confrontation of the ugliest stripe.
When you are frustrated with a co-worker or a peer, consider how you express that frustration? Do you approach them alone to inform them of your feelings and your opinion and then try to resolve that problem or do you fight and scratch your way around actual confrontation, instead favoring the “sneaky” approach. If you don’t know what I mean, I’m talking about going to other peers who know both of you and whining to the third party about how the aggressed against is acting. “They smell bad.” “They are loud and offensive.” “They called my grandmother a bitch.” Whatever the case may be, if your first step is to approach a third party and whine, chances are that you suffer from the same problem that I do.
Rather than being a successful trickster and using their own actions against them (which is admittedly what I want to do more times than not.) you have fallen pray to your own dagger and can’t find the stab wound beneath the folded mess of your cloak. You know that you are bleeding, hence why you went for aid, but the problem is, when you or I slander someone behind their back, we are in fact worse than whatever it is they are. You may have a peer who frustrates you to no end, how a bout a co-worker for example?
She always talks about how much money she makes at her job, you don’t make as much. You grow jealous, which then unfolds into anger. You know in your mind that if she is making good money, then likely she is good at her job. Still, you won’t confront that knowledge because “dammit she just shouldn’t brag. I hate how big her ego is.” That sentiment evolves into you resenting her at work, dodging her when you are on shift together, and inevitably if you let it continue, will unfold into you saying underhanded things right to her face, because you “want to teach her a lesson.”
Well, I have a handful of hints. Firstly, when a teacher decides to teach someone, it isn’t because that specific person needs to learn. It is because they want to spread their own knowledge to others so that the world around them can grow if even a bit. So I think you should ask yourself chiefly, “Is what I’m about to do going to promote growth between me and any party who hears it?” Now, how you answer that is important but I’ll get there soon.
Secondly, if those tactics don’t work, you will be frustrated because she is “a big jerk who doesn’t care about anyone but herself.” Speaking from experience here, let me tell you. It isn’t that the person only cares for themselves, chances are good that there is some ego there but you can’t attribute it to just that. Likely, your obsession with their life is only serving to grow their ego, which will only inflate their sense of pride in who they are. So consider more than just the obvious poison that first bubbles in your own mind. What if they are proud of what they are doing? Have you considered that whatever they are doing that is frustrating you is simply being done because they have to mature still? We all grow different ways at different rates. I excel in places where my friends are set back and vice versa. We all have something to learn from one another. If you dig for that thing, then you will likely come to a conclusion much healthier than slandering another person.
Third. Consider your own position. Why did their actions weigh on you? Why did you let it? If you can’t sit down and answer that question, you are immediately stripped of the right to be angry with them. There is likely a valid reason for your anger or frustrations but if your answer is “I don’t know, it just makes me mad.” Then you have no right to speak on it at all, in any way. If you don’t know what you are fighting, or what you are fighting for then you don’t have the right to put your weapon up to begin with. You will only cause damage for the sake of causing damage, and no one will walk away from the experience changed or better.
So take all of those things.
- “Is what I’m about to do going to promote growth between me and the party who hears it?”
- Dig for the things that they understand that you do not and seek to learn them. Don’t fall blindly into anger because you don’t understand your peers.
- “Why did their actions weigh on you? Why did you let them?”
If you can answer all three of these questions honestly then you will have your ultimate answer and path to take. I promise you, if you are being honest with yourself, then you will not approach them passively and try to hurt them or slander them. You will abandon the foolish idea of “teaching them a lesson.” You will understand that the thing frustrating you could possibly just be something that they haven’t matured in yet, and you can take it as an opportunity to teach them ways to grow and in turn, learn ways to grow from them. Then at the end, if both of these things fail you, you can understand that you are in control of your own mentality. You are the one who decides how you feel, not others. So when you truly harness that mentality you’ll understand that there is no single person that exists on this Earth who can tell you how to feel or what to think. If you are angry at a friend, it is because you let yourself be angry. It is not because they are immature or stupid. It is because you allowed whatever they said or did to affect you negatively. You let them get under your skin and hurt you. So you are the only one who can exorcise them from your mind. After seeing that, you will come to understand that there is no need for passive aggression ever. No matter how much you like the high from it. There are better ways to seek thrills, ways that won’t ruin relationships or cause drama within groups of friends or co-workers. Then, if the problem isn’t solved, you can understand and accept that it is something you must walk away from. Some things can’t be changed and it is a hard lesson to accept. Keep your heart and your mind open, and excuse yourself from the situation. That doesn’t mean jumping to conclusions and quitting your job or ditching your friends, but it does mean that you can become scarce when certain things come up. A certain topic could be your frustration, and if you cannot teach the party, if you cannot seek good within them and you cannot define why you are so angry about the topic, it is best then to step away for a while and look at yourself ask yourself those same three questions, but in a different light.
Is what you are doing going to promote growth in others? Are you the aggressor?
Dig for the good traits you have and relish in them. Identify the bad things and vow to learn, to mature yourself.
Then, ask yourself one more thing… Why did you let something so foolish and so petty get under your skin to begin with? When you have your answer. Drop your knife and move on.
There is no need for your cloak, there is no need for your dagger. Life is not a situation we can sneak around or stealth our way through. We will be rammed headlong into things we don’t expect or understand. We must be sure that we can face those problems with a healthy mind. It is much better when we fight our larger, more important battles without dagger wounds in our sides.
If you enjoyed this + want more, you’re in luck! I have nothing else to do but post to this blog so I have a new one out every Friday! Come back next week for “Raising Curtain” about taking the guesswork out of relationships and being more transparent with those in our lives for the sake of making healthier and better friendships. Of course, this is just from my own experience and I’m only 23 years old. So I don’t expect to know everything. Hell, I don’t even expect to really know anything. These are just my opinions and I hope that the writings in GME have helped in some small way. Thank you for reading. If you’d like to see more you can check out my website for the full blog posting schedule. (A more comprehensive list will be coming next month, with short descriptions rather than just titles. Titles don’t really mean much if you don’t know what they are about.)
If you’re a fan of reading, especially fiction, I think you should also go check out my latest book. “Mean Shadows.” it is 26 short stories that touch on a range of topics from death, to loss, to fear and more and follow the lives of a handful of characters I will be writing on more over the years. You can pick up a signed copy on my website. If you want a blank copy to have me sign in person, you can pick up a blank copy on Amazon.
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