Friday, December 17, 2010
Passive agressive: Because I love you....
Most of my friends accuse me of allowing people to push me around. They say that I don't stand up for myself and "give as good as I get" as much as I ought to until I reach "breaking-off" point. This seems strange especially since I "seem" a sensible person with a healthy self-esteem and a fair idea of feminism and my rights as a human being.
One of the reasons I don't blow up people who mess with me is because I don't think that any insult I can give them will adequately balance out the damage to my soul. I am fairly sure about what I want to feel about myself and how I want to live life. I try to live and let live as much as possible; I like earning good karma brownie points because that makes me happy. And I have learnt in these past years that making you compromise your values and dignity is a form of abuse. And like hell, I am going to let someone do that to me.
I am not allowing these people to push me around forever. For a while, perhaps. But one day, I'm gone from there. Poof! It is stressful while it lasts, but I sure as hell am not about to allow any one of them turn me into a lesser or a meaner human being.
While a few people try to control you by physical aggression and direct rudeness, most people control you by using conditional love, emotional blackmail, well-meant advice, and the oh-so-cute phrase – Mujhe haq hai! (I have the right!) I have the right to do "Blank" because I love you/you are a family member/I care about you.
Arguing/putting them in their place/rudeness really does not work with such people. You really have no option except to let them go out of your life. If you don't, you spend all your time pushing them out of your personal space. Or, you have to be on the offensive or on the defensive all the time. This can be a physically, mentally, emotionally and morally draining process.
Passive aggressive behaviour is usually exhibited by chronically disturbed and unhappy people. If you don't offend or neglect them, they will find something else to be unhappy about. However, if you want to lead a happy and positive life, allowing them to disturb your equilibrium is the one way ticket to ending up like them – unhappy and passive aggressive.
I know because I have dealt with family who have perfected passive aggressive behaviour into an art form. We go through the same conversations over and over again – objectively, subjectively, calmly, angrily. And the next time around, they will begin the entire argument from Point One as if it were something entirely new.
They assume things about your life and when you try to explain, nod and argue and pretend to comprehend only to attack again when you least expect it. It is exhausting going through the same ground over and over and over..... Sometimes, you'd rather just give in and agree. In a while, something else begins. It's an endless vicious cycle. If you decide to ignore and let it run like water off a duck's back, they still persist in bringing it up and talking about it and having a monologue if need be, but they will not let it go.
If you ever get stuck in a situation where you need to get something done, you will go right round the bend with such people. No matter how impertinent, annoying, intrusive or personal they are being, they always look at it as a small favour in return for all the "big things" they've done for you. This is such an effective technique when they are parents or in-laws or family elders in general. e.g. "How many sacrifices have we made to get you here?" or "We gifted you your husband. if it wasn't for us, you wouldn't even have this husband in the first place."
After giving people the benefit of doubt and giving them some time to see if the situation eases up, I usually prefer to simply break off such relationships. Perhaps because the break comes so suddenly and unexpectedly, they are taken aback. And they are taken aback for the simple reason that they DO NOT LISTEN. They hear, but they don't listen and they close their mind to possible repercussions of their behaviour.
You can stay with passive aggressive people for 30 years at a stretch and scream into their ears and slash your wrists and go to counsellors with them and pave your own way into hell with expletives against them; you can work out compromises and set boundaries till kingdom come. It will not not make ONE IOTA OF DIFFERENCE. Be nice. Explain. Give a little time. And then get the hell out of there. There are really no two ways about it.