Understanding The Devil: Passive Aggression

Anger. A strong emotion. It is hard to suppress anger. And even if it is being suppressed, it comes out indirectly. So what is this indirect aggression? Is it bad? What is it called? 

This indirect way of displaying anger is known as passive aggression. It is a way of indirectly expressing anger towards someone through one’s behavior or actions. It is the hidden anger. 

Wondering why it is worse?

Because it spoils relationships and careers and keeps one unhappy. Passive aggression limits communication. This leads to bottling up emotions, which starts affecting our mental health. Passive aggression is not an actual diagnosis; it has been described as a personality trait and behavioral pattern by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Chronic passive aggression may lead to personal or professional setbacks due to unwillingness to engage in constructive communication. 

Passive Aggression

What are the reasons for passive aggression? 

There can be various reasons why someone might be passive-aggressive. First, for some people, expressing their emotions is hard because they think it might make them vulnerable. Some people don’t want to be rude or fear conflict when angry; instead, they decide not to say anything and bottle their emotions. Past experiences like bad parenting style or fear of rejection also affect how one expresses behavior. 

According to recent research by C. G. Schanz, M. Equit, and T. Michael, it has been observed that people who are diagnosed with depression are more likely to develop passive-aggressive behavior. 

When does it get worse? 

Prolonged passive aggression can lead to poor mental health as it can lead to high stress and anxiety levels. It can also lead to increased aggression because we don’t acknowledge our thoughts, and the anger and frustration return in the worst form. Passive aggression develops a revenge attitude that may disrupt professional and personal relationships.

Read more: 5 Benefits Of Building A Healthy Relationship With Yourself. 

What are the symptoms of passive aggression? 

Symptoms of passive aggression might include:

  • refusing the instructions of others,
  • intentionally delaying tasks,
  • not communicating or stonewalling, 
  • giving the silent treatment, 
  • arguing about everything, 
  • displaying sarcastic behavior, 
  • constantly complaining or criticizing everyone, 
  • not taking responsibility or deflecting,
  • making excuses intentionally, etc. 

Read more: Most Common Defence Mechanisms Explained.

How to control passive aggression?

How to control your passive-aggressive behavior?

1. Take Your Time

First off, it’s okay that you cannot express your emotions. It is hard. It might be very overwhelming to deal with all those emotions upright. Nowadays, people also judge when you express your feelings, leading to resistance to displaying any discomfort. So take your time. But slowly, try opening up. 

2. Acknowledge your feelings

Acknowledge that you are angry. It’s okay to be angry; it’s not a destructive emotion. Anger helps us convey what is bothering us. Take deep breaths and understand your feelings; look at what direction you are heading. Before suppressing your emotions, understand what the consequences will be. Understand that the feelings might worsen and affect your relationships with others. 

3. Assertive Communication

The next step is trying assertive communication. It’s okay to disagree and put your opinions in the discussion. But try expressing your views more positively or assertively, which might help you have better and safe communication.

Seeking help

The most crucial step you should take is to seek help when required. Sometimes it is hard to suddenly change your thoughts and emotions, and you might need help. Health professionals, therapists, or psychiatrists can help you understand your feelings better and give you the proper plan to overcome the traits of passive aggression. It is okay to have the thought of not going for medical help. But know that it’s not bad; it will help you feel happy and work towards enhancing your mental well-being. 


Passive aggression is the repressed anger shown indirectly, verbally, or through different actions. Prolonged passive aggression can cause mental health issues like stress and anxiety. This hidden anger can affect relationships, both personal and professional. Taking proper time to acknowledge your feelings will help you express this hidden anger healthily. 

The essential step in controlling passive-aggressive behavior is to release your repressed anger. Repressed anger is the anger that is avoided and pushed down. Find out the healthy ways to deal with repressed anger here.

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