A Passive-Aggressive Story

Here’s a Passive-Aggressive story about Joe and Marge.

Whenever Joe’s wife, Marge, asks him to do something around the house, he always seems to go along and agree to do it. But the task rarely gets done. He either conveniently Passive-Aggressive husband and wife“forgets” about it or he does a little bit of it, but doesn’t finish the job. Sometimes he does the job but in a way that isn’t really what she wanted. In all instances, Marge is left feeling frustrated with Joe.

Joe appears to feel vaguely guilty about this, but it keeps happening, and Marge is getting increasingly angry. She begins to wonder: “Does Joe really care for me? Because I feel like I can’t trust him anymore.” Marge has a vague feeling that he is getting back at her, but she can’t figure out exactly why.

Joe keeps saying, “Hey, I’m only human. I just forget sometimes.” He claims he would really like to give her all the things she wants.

This is Passive-Aggressive behavior in action. What is really going on with Joe?  He has a part that is a People-Pleaser. This part of him really wants to make Marge happy by doing everything she asks. It is actually afraid of not pleasing her. It fears she will become angry and judgmental, that she will withdraw from Joe and reject him. Therefore, when Marge asks Joe to do something, the Pleaser doesn’t stop to consider whether or not he wants to do it or if he has the time. It automatically says yes. It wants to protect Joe from the pain of being judged or rejected by Marge. And Joe isn’t aware of what is going on.

However, this is only half the story. There is another part of Joe that is Passive-Aggressive. This part has very different feelings about Marge’s requests. First of all, it doesn’t see them as “requests.” It feels that Marge is “demanding” things from him. It resents Marge for pushing Joe around and telling him what to do. And the Passive-Aggressive Part is even more resentful when Joe gives in. It feels angry at Marge and wants to say, “How dare you tell me what to do!”

However, the Passive-Aggressive Part is overruled by the Pleaser. It isn’t allowed to defy Marge or get angry at her because the Pleaser would be terrified about what would happen. So the Passive-Aggressive Part is silenced. It doesn’t get to act in a direct way, and Joe doesn’t even know that he has a part like this. The Passive-Aggressive Part is completely unconscious.

In addition, Joe has a lot of anger and rage held over from his childhood, especially directed at women. So now this anger sometimes gets directed at Marge, even when she hasn’t done anything. However, Joe has protective parts that are terrified about what would happen if he expressed his anger directly. This way it stays hidden away where Joe doesn’t know about it. It feeds into the feelings of the Passive-Aggressive Part, again in an unconscious way.

Nevertheless the Passive-Aggressive Part is not without some power. Even though it can’t be directly aggressive the way it would like, it can be passively aggressive. It can prevent Joe from giving Marge what she wants. It may cause Joe to forget what he has promised to do. The Passive-Aggressive Part may influence Joe to do a job in a willy-nilly way that will frustrate Marge, or even scare her by leaving it precariously half-finished. It knows how to get back at Marge in an indirect way that Joe isn’t even aware of. And when Marge does get frustrated or scared, the Passive-Aggressive Part feels satisfied because it has expressed its anger and rebellion. Ha-ha! It has “gotten” her.

Joe has two sides that are at odds with each other. They are conflicted about the best way to deal with Marge.

The Pleaser takes charge directly when Marge asks Joe to do something, and the Passive-Aggressive Part takes charge indirectly (subconscious revenge) later on.

Click here to see how Self-Therapy Journey can help you understand and transform your Passive-Aggressive Pattern.

 

 

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

I have recently modified my ariticle on passive-aggressive behavior, so I thought it would be useful to include the latest in our blog.

When Joe’s wife asks him to do something around the house, he always seems to go along and agree to do it. But it rarely happens. He forgets about it, or he does a little bit of it but doesn’t finish the job. Sometimes he does the job in a way that isn’t really what she wanted and is very frustrating for her. He feels vaguely uneasy about this, but it keeps happening. His wife, Marge, is getting increasingly angry about this. She wonders if he cares for her and feels that she can’t trust him. She has a vague feeling that he is getting back at her, but she can’t explain this. He says he just forgets, and he would really like to give her all the things she wants.

This is an example of passive-aggressive behavior. What is really going on with Joe, and with Marge? Let’s start with Joe. He has a part that is a Pleaser. This part of him really wants to make Marge happy by doing everything she asks. It is afraid of not pleasing her. It is afraid that she will become angry and judgmental, that she will withdraw from Joe and reject him. So when Marge asks Joe to do something, the Pleaser doesn’t consider whether or not he wants to do it or has the time. It automatically says “Yes.” It wants to protect Joe from the pain of being judged or rejected by Marge. And Joe isn’t aware of what is going on. [Read more…]

Modes in Blending in IFS

This blog is a more technical than usual and aimed at IFS therapists. In IFS a part is “blended” with someone when they ARE the part as opposed to being in Self. This could mean that they feel the part’s emotions, they hold its beliefs, or their behavior in the world comes from this part. Recently I have realized that these represent three different modes of blending, and that a part may only be blended with someone in one or two of these ways. Furthermore, someone can be blended with two parts at the same time using two different modes.

The three modes of blending are as follows:
1. A person is feeling the part’s emotions to such an extent that they don’t feel much else. For example, a sad part takes them over so that they are flooded with sadness.
2. A person is identified with the part, in that they hold its beliefs and see the world from its perspective. For example, a man is blended with a paranoid part that believes that people are out to hurt him.
3. A person’s actions derive from a part. For example, because a woman is blended with a judgmental part, she makes contemptuous comments to people. [Read more…]