In the quest to solve problems of self-esteem and self-confidence we come across assertiveness training.
Psychologist Carl Rogers, educated in analytical psychology, is one of the main figures in humanistic psychology. Developed in the 1950s, it stands in contrast with analytical psychology (which considers that human beings are conditioned by the forces of their inner mind (the subconscious mind) and conductive psychology, which states that human’s behaviour is conditioned and reinforced by outside influences. Humanistic psychology believes in free will and the ability of humans to choose the behavior they want. Rogers developed a list of Rights, known as the Bill of Rights which names the right to be assertive as one of the basic rights. This means the right to express our feelings, needs and desires clearly and appropriately. It does not mean that, with this training, we just always get what we want. But we will achieve relating to others in a mature and adult way, getting rid of the feeling that we left half solved issues. Learning to assert ourselves may help increase our autonomy, self-esteem and confidence and avoid passive-aggressive and aggressive behavior, thereby also influencing those around us in a positive way.
Hypnotherapy can help us relearn negative beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, unrealistic and detrimental to our development, and replace them with others that stimulate our right to assert ourselves. The mental rehearsal of unwanted behaviors from a hypnotic state can prepare us to carry out those behaviors. Additionally, hypnotherapy can help manipulate and even eradicate exaggerated negative feelings, such as those caused by social phobias or anxieties, informed by those negative beliefs that we may have ben feeding throughout our lives.
Here is an article describing the sort of undesired behaviour mentioned above, which may be possible to modify with the contribution of hypnotherapy.
OK, don’t read this article about passive-aggressive behaviour. Honestly, it’s fine
Many people encounter passive aggressive-behaviour on a regular basis. Many people even use it, perhaps unknowingly. How can something seemingly self-contradicting become so common? And why is it so jarring, even when compared to straightforward ‘normal’ aggression?
It was Valentine’s Day recently, a fraught time for anyone in a relationship. Perhaps the gift you got your partner was obviously a last minute purchase from a petrol station? Or maybe you ignored Valentine’s Day because you both agreed it’s stupid, only your partner didn’t quite mean it?
Whatever the reason, thwarting of Valentine’s Day plans or expectations is a sure-fire way to be on the receiving end of passive-aggressive behaviour.
Passive-aggressive behaviour is when someone expresses hostility indirectly. Rather than say they’re angry with you and explain why you’re an idiot, the passive-aggressive person will behave in ways that inconvenience, distress, discomfort or frustrate, but all of these behaviours taken in isolation are technically “fine”; they’re not obvious attacks on a person, but they can be very upsetting for the recipient.
People often equate anger and aggression, but they’re not the same; anger is a state of psychological arousal, usually in response to an unpleasant or threatening occurrence, whereas aggression is behaviour intended to cause harm. Aggression can occur without anger; a person tackling someone in a rugby game is being aggressive, but not necessarily angry. Many people use sports/exercise to work out aggressive tendencies in a safe manner. But generally, anger is a common cause of aggression.
If someone threatens to disembowel you because you cut them off in your car, that’s “direct” aggression. So how does “passive” aggressive behaviour come about?
Firstly, many examples of passive-aggressive behaviour are likely unintentional/unavoidable. Emotion psychology cites the appraisal theory of emotion, involving primary appraisal and secondary appraisal. Primary is where the event that triggered the response is assessed and a suitable reaction calculated. Secondary appraisal assesses the ability to cope with the initial event, as well as the consequences of the initial response to it.
To simplify; if someone pushes you, primary appraisal will suggest you’ve been physically assaulted and you’ll get angry at the person. Secondary assessment will determine the push wasn’t harmful, and was actually someone shoving you out of the path of an errant vehicle, so you overreacted to the push, so will be less likely to react like that next time.
So if someone gets really angry at their partner/friend then later realises they were wrong to do so, or realises they’ve upset their partner/friend far more than they anticipated, or if they feel they are wrong to be angry, they will try to behave differently in similar situations from then on. But the anger response doesn’t go away; people can’t stop an automatic emotional response, so try to behave normally while infused with arousal and frustration, saying “honestly, I’m fine” through gritted teeth. They’re not fine, but feel they should be.
But often, passive-aggressive behaviour can be deliberate, whether provoked or not. It’s not always a bad thing; passive-aggressive behaviour is a way to retaliate if you’re at the wrong end of a power dynamic. Aggression is all about causing harm, but humans are so complex it doesn’t have to be physical harm; it can be psychological or emotional.
The brain doesn’t deal well with ambiguity or uncertainty
If your boss is rude to you, you can’t grab his tie and slap his face until it turns blue, no matter how vivid the fantasy. But you can ignore emails, turn in reports late, bad-mouth him to colleagues, forget to arrange meetings he requested, and various other things that cause him hassle and embarrassment overall. He might take it out on you anyway, but if he won’t have any way of officially reprimanding you as he can’t prove any active hostility.
A 1994 study reported that women are more likely to be passive-aggressive whereas men are more likely to be “active”. This conforms to common stereotypes, but it doesn’t automatically mean women are more calculating/devious. Invariably, women are at the lower end of power dynamics, and many of these studies focus on the workplace where women are regularly penalised for being assertive. Under such circumstances, the passive-aggressive approach will end up being used more often.
But there are potentially more unpleasant motivations. It could be a have-your-cake-and-eat-it scenario, where a person wants to harm someone they’ve taken a disliking to but in a way that can’t be proven. Social norms and etiquette insist that we behave politely to others, so standing up and screaming “Oh God, not THEM again!” whenever someone enters a room reflects worse on you than the target of your dislike. Ergo people have to be more creative with their aggression, and adopt socially “acceptable” strategies. Deliberately not inviting someone to a party if you’ve invited all their friends then saying “oops, I forgot” when asked is a passive-aggressive tactic. Saying “Yes, because I hate you” is active.
Passive-aggressive behaviour is a great demonstration of the complexity of human interpersonal communication, like the fact that you can say “I’m fine” while your body language and tone clearly reveal you’re not, or how stopping talking to someone can reveal your frustration with them more than actually saying it.
But this overlooks the fact that passive aggressive is also rife via technological mediums. Curt texts, unanswered emails, Facebook statuses declaring “someone” to be an idiot, the notorious subtweet; if you can communicate with it, people can be passive aggressive with it. No doubt there were frosty telegrams in centuries gone by.
Why is it so bad though? Surely someone furiously threatening to gouge out your innards with a rusty spoon is worse than someone not making you tea when everyone else gets one?
Of course it is. It’s far more physically alarming. But in a way, it isn’t, because it’s logical. “I spilled that guy’s beer, so now he wants to kill me”; this doesn’t need figuring out. But passive-aggressive behaviour is ambiguous. The brain doesn’t deal well with ambiguity or uncertainty; like with cognitive dissonance, “acceptable” behaviour combined with the hostile effects/mannerism causes mental distress and discomfort. With passive-aggressive behaviour the appropriate response is impossible to work out for certain, causing even more distress and frustration. Many people recognise this and use it to their advantage, like Pick Up artists and their infamous negging. This also brings up another cause of passive-aggressive behaviour; some people are just awful.
So yes, it’s a very potent tactic, and you can see how it became so commonplace. But just to add to the confusion, it’s not always deliberate.
And to clarify, this article isn’t itself a passive-aggressive attack on my wife or any of my friends/colleagues. I just find the whole subject fascinating. Honestly, I do. Don’t worry about it.
Dean Burnett has plenty of Twitter followers, so it’s fine if you don’t want to be another one. @garwboy. For original source please click here.