"I'm nothing if not honest!"; "I'm not responsible for your feelings!"; "You're too sensitive!"; "I was kidding around, geez!"
Perhaps you have heard a remark like this directly after being stung by passive aggressive words or behaviors. If so, you have likely experienced the very real emotional "ouch" one feels in an interaction like this. You may have even doubted your own reality, wondering if perhaps you are too sensitive.
If you are nodding your head right now, unfortunately, you are not alone, as most everyone will fall under the confusing and troubling spell of a toxic PA person at some point in their personal life, professional career, or on social media.
While this individual can be incredibly difficult to deal with, at their core, PA people are people in pain. Because of this, they use a number of unhealthy communication tactics in order to control or displace that pain. Blame shifting is usually at the top of the list.
Before we go much further, it is important to clarify that communicating directly and clearly is different from being passive aggressive. Healthy communication does not leave others feeling hurt, ashamed, bullied or confused. While an ill timed joke or reactive comment happens to the best of us from time-to-time, if you are being bullied by a PA person, boundaries will be your best friend.
If you have been wounded by a PA person, here are ways that you can support yourself and move out of their attack zone:
1. Do not accept the PA offending comments as “a joke”
2. Trust your gut; don’t all the PA to blow FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt)
3. Set boundaries clearly and respectfully
4. Do not engage in the toxic dance
5. Do not take their bait
6. Refuse to enter into gossip with the PA
7. Allow the person to experience consequences of their choices
8. Lead with kindness
9. Clarify, do not assume
10. Be prepared for backlash when setting boundaries
11. Remove yourself from unhealthy people, places and things
12. Forgive and...set boundaries
13. Disengage with compassion
14. Allow for space
15. Meditate and pray
16. Refuse to gossip about the PA offender
17. Hold yourself with dignity and grace
18. Spend time with healthy and safe people
19. Remove the PA offender from you life if boundaries are repeatedly disrespected
20. Be gentle with yourself
As a support, I have linked a few books via my Amazon affiliate you may want to look into as a support:
In closing, if you have been wounded by a passive aggressive person, remember to clearly and calmly state your boundaries and then allow for consequences. If the offender refuses to make healthy changes, then you will want to ask yourself why you continue to engage. If you decide to end the relationship, the PA will likely retaliate. Do not take the bait, instead take care of yourself. They may even taunt you about leaving the relationship or group. Refuse to take the bait. Let me assure you that removing a chronically toxic person from your life is not you being weak or wrong, it is you taking care of you, which requires strength of character.
Here is to cultivating healthy connections with healthy people who lift you up vs. tear you down. You deserve to have folks in your life who want the very best for you, who say the very best about you, and who feel safe and kind to your heart.