I’m not angry! I am the most passive person I know said Michael, but people keep telling him over and over that he seems angry. They can’t quite give him a good example because they are unsure how he feels. There is something about him that “seems” angry, but everyone feels confused when it comes to his behavior.
In working with Michael, we came to realize that he was indeed passive. He was right about that, but he wasn’t really sure what passive angry behavior might look like to others. If you have passive behavior, you are allowing things to happen in your life without making any effort to stop or change them. You go along with the crowd even when you don’t want to. On the outside you try to look happy, but on the inside you are miserable and angry because you allowed yourself to get involved in a situation that you would rather not be involved with at all.
If you have passive behavior, you avoid conflict at all cost. Passive behavior avoids any action that could improve a situation because you put the rights of others ahead of your own. You would rather stuff anger, emotions and conflict than to set boundaries and use anger productively in life.
Putting the rights of others ahead of your own will eventually diminish your self worth because your own needs will never be met. Resentments start to build because you never let others know what is important to you and it leaves them guessing on how you feel or what to do. You feel invisible, they feel confused.
So when Michael came to anger management class, we started to look at his behavior and why others may peg him as angry when he really felt like he kept his feelings under control. When we started looking at his behavior, he said that when he went places with others that he didn’t want to go, he would sit quiet and not join in the conversation. Because he was mad at himself for going somewhere he didn’t want to be, he would pout, look away from the others, and maybe even make a snappy comment or two in the conversation. Michael didn’t see this as a problem so why were the others picking up on it? He wasn’t screaming or yelling? He didn’t fight with anyone. He was mostly indifferent and sat there looking miserable. What’s wrong with that? That’s not anger! Yes it is and it is not a fun behavior to be around.
In working with Michael during at our anger management classes, we helped him to realize that saying “no” was okay and it would be okay with others too. He learned that putting himself in a bad position or just going along for the ride made him angry at himself which poured over onto others and they noticed it. Michael realized that he had caused him some self esteem problems over the years too and he wasn’t feeling good about himself anymore.
After we convinced Michael that passive behavior is a form of anger, we started working on boundaries, how to set them, how to communicate them and how to keep them. We also worked on how to assertively communicate his boundaries so it left no one guessing. It was freeing to Michael to actually say “no” and keep an assertive boundary. It raised his self esteem and his relationships with friends and family members improved.
Michael is a work in progress, but he is definitely living in a positive solution to his passive anger. If you feel like you stuff your feelings and can’t communicate what you really need and want, come over to angermanagementonline.com and start the process just like Michael.