Passive aggression--why on earth would we want to talk about something so pleasant?
Because we all do it.
We find it easy to recognize in others--the eyeroll of a teenager, the pouting tween, the exasperated voice of the mom who has said the same thing one too many times, the door that most certainly was not slammed
I wish I wasn't totally guilty of this, but I am. And while I think I've improved a great deal, there is nothing in the world that brings out residual passive aggression like being in the passenger seat while your teenager is learning to drive!!! After the first drive, I learned quickly that all the gasping in the world isn't going to make her a safer driver. But a few drives later, I realized I was still making the faces. Why on earth would I think a scrunched up face would keep her from hitting that car that she was clearly way too close to---from my point of view?
Bingo. Passive aggression is really about a lack of control, of not trusting that someone with a different point of view than us might still be making good choices. While being the passenger of a new driver is the first time that we, the parent, have literally put our lives in the hands of our teenager. This is backwards! And learning to trust them takes time. And effort on our part, not just theirs.
But it's everywhere, right? That sigh because someone just doesn't get it. The eyerolls hidden behind off-camera zoom meetings. The change in our voice in an attempt to get someone to start listening. The procrastination because we certainly aren't going to let someone else dictate when we do something. The back-handed compliment because we're a nice person dang it. How about the withdrawal and it's meaner cousin, the silent treatment, as a way to punish someone for daring to have an opinion that's different than yours?
Abuse survivors know passive aggression well. We've seen it used against us. But we've also learned to use it ourselves. Taking your life back means facing our own shadows. Including this one.
Here's the key: use your voice to speak up when it matters, make a different choice when you need to, and let the rest go. Truly. That sigh isn't going to change a thing.