Shame is a shadow that the evil one (Satan) will use to cause humans to either cower in fear (often living in denial of their pain) or, strike out in passive or blatant aggression.
Most people who come to me for mentoring or pastoral counseling — whether it’s for anxiety, depression, spiritual confusion/abuse, relationship concerns, substance abuse, or stress management — are on some level dealing with a shame issue, a consistent inner dialog or an occasionally triggered sense of not being good enough.
When we’re ashamed, we tend to focus inwardly on our mistakes and wonder what we’re doing wrong.
But in order to be set free from the effects of shame, we must watch how the behavior of others either sets us up to “walk on eggshells” when they are “in their moods” or- lash out and rage when you feel humiliated.
Neither of these 2 reactions are how God would have us handle those who dish out shame and unkindness.
If there’s a time when it’s hard to look squarely at the behavior of others, it’s when you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive person.
While outwardly blatant aggressive people are absolutely challenging, at least you know what you’ve got on your hands.
With passive-aggressive people, the damaging effects are the same and yet you’re being manipulated without your even realizing it.
It’s incredibly important to be able to recognize some of the typical behaviors of passive aggressors!
So what is passive aggressive behavior?
It’s hidden anger or aggression that is unacknowledged, it’s a fussy irritability stuffed way down inside, simmering, and it’s then delivered in a way that helps that person avoid responsibility for it, for their aggressive statements and actions.
It also can be viewed as an attempt to restore or gain power over others or obtain a moral high ground or a sense of superiority.
Some actually enjoy the belittling and teasing that they do! The person gets satisfaction from causing distress in others without owning it, causing self doubt in others and so, it helps the passive aggressive person get his or her way.
The more obvious feature of a passive aggressive person is denying that they are angry and then acting in opposition to that through passive behaviors, procrastinating, failing to follow through on agreed-upon tasks or meeting or honoring important deadlines like anniversaries, birthdays, Holidays.
Other passive aggressive behaviors are more active and can include the following:
- Delivers back-handed compliments.
- Acts innocent after making veiled sarcastic remarks, for example, “You took that the wrong way,” “You misunderstood,” or “I was just joking,” or “I was just teasing.”
- Blames you if you call them out on their behavior, acts shocked or wounded.
- Behaves in a victimized way, evoking guilt.
- Tells you are too sensitive or overreacting and that they had your interests in mind.
- Says something and later denies saying it.
- Takes moral high ground and acts superior to you.
- Uses tone in a patronizing way, “It’s fine dear.” Or, condescendingly says (with eye rolling).
- Use subtle disapproval, put-downs.
- Talks down to you.
- Ignores you, or feigns disinterest, pretends they don’t hear you.
- Is a chronic complainer, but refuses to take action or behave assertively.
- Keeps hurting you, but the behavior is not apparent to others.
- Pushes you to respond when they want action.
- Rarely admits their behavior is hurtful and rarely apologizes with genuine awareness of how they wound with put downs.
Many of these behaviors may also be seen in people who are more blatantly aggressive.
That means, even when the aggressor seems like they’re being nice, it’s possible they’re not, and it’s very important to realize what is happening.
It’s critical to understand the impact of this behavior on your life! It can be huge in terms of the damage done to your sense of self worth.
The first step is recognizing who has the problem and that the behavior has nothing to do with you and has in fact, everything to do with how the other person sorts things out for themselves.
Satan knows what hurt and trauma will activate our strongholds, trigger us to fortify them or to react in shame and to erect new strongholds to protect ourselves.
Of course, demons are drawn to strongholds, like vultures circle death. We need to get rid of the death!
God’s plan is to enable us to love Him, authentically love others and love ourselves, reconciling us to “oneness.”
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,'” Luke 10:27.
Satan’s master plan is separation! To cause you to be brokenhearted and become fleshly, separating you from others, separating you from God, and separating you from your true self.
Spend some time watching what the passive aggressive person says and does, without engaging with it to get a clear picture of what they do without putting yourself in the mix.
Make a list of behaviors that are likely to occur next time and have a plan for setting fair and healthy boundaries.
The more convinced you are that you are not the problem, the less “triggered” or hurt you will be and the more successful you will be in managing things effectively.
You might remember the TV show Columbo where a brilliant detective always gets the criminal by acting clueless and asking a lot of clarifying questions.
While you don’t have to play clueless, it is good to create boundaries with a passive aggressive person by asking questions, such as, I’m curious why you’re doing that,” or, “That comment felt wrong. Did you want me to feel bad or mean to hurt someone?”
With consistency and calmly calling out passive aggressive behavior, the aggressor might learns over time that they cannot continue to behave this way without being held accountable.
More important, as you create clear, consistent boundaries, your levels of peace and kindness can’t help but feel safe and ready to engage with those who have a mutual respect and understanding about emotional boundaries and how the LORD would have us treat one another. “I will repay,” says the LORD.
LORD, we choose to trust you to avenge every wrong. We choose to love our enemies, take our house back and to enjoy our goods in peace, being fully submitted to the God of our salvation, our peace, and our freedom.
In His Shadow,
~ Mary Lindow ©
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Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others – all generations, careers or vocations to live expressing excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She’s a sought after keynote, inspirational, humorous speaker and teacher across the USA and internationally in Ministers & Spiritual leaders Conferences, and training seminars for various organizations.