(This blog was originally posted on August 29, 2016)
|Photo by Sara Fogan|
According to Erik Erickson’s Stages of Development model, passive-aggressive behavior begins when a child is between three to six years old (Loco-Motor stage), when he or she is just starting to become independent. The youngster also learns about guilt and initiative at this time. Erickson observed that if a child is punished or discouraged from expressing initiative, he or she would try to sabotage the parents. For example, the individual might wet or soil the pants instead of going to the bathroom despite having been toilet trained. This kind of passive-aggressive behavior carries over into adulthood as a way to subtly hurt or frustrate someone as if to teach a lesson to the other person. However, it is ultimately the person who behaves in this passive-aggression way who suffers the most.
John Kappas, Ph.D., considered passive-aggressive behavior part of a “losing syndrome” in which the person subconsciously always expects to fail because he or she was never allowed or encouraged to succeed at a task, or was even punished for being assertive. An example of passive-aggressive behavior in adulthood is an employee saying or doing something at work that contradicts the workplace environment/culture that jeopardizes the individual’s chances of promotion or even gets the person fired.
In the above example, Dr. Kappas worked with a man who sought hypnotherapy to increase his motivation about his job and stop procrastinating. The client conceded that he had had 20 jobs over the years; despite feeling optimistic and believing he would succeed at the beginning of each employment, it ultimately wouldn’t work out. When asked why the jobs didn’t work, the client blamed his co-workers when something went wrong; or, he became bored very quickly if he didn’t feel challenged if the job didn’t pay well.
To help the client work through these issues, the hypnotherapist identified and pointed out common denominators between the unwanted behavior (procrastination and low motivation) and the man’s passive-aggressive tendencies. Examples included tardiness to work, tendency to daydream, avoidance of responsibility and failing to show up at meetings or appointments. Next, Dr. Kappas recommended specific dietary changes to stabilize the client’s blood-sugar level and reduce anxiety and frustration, and gave him positive suggestions for future personal growth and appreciation of his abilities. Finally, Dr. Kappas introduced him to the Mental Bank Concept to increase the client’s motivation and sense of self-worth.
“Passive aggressiveness gets worse as the person gets older,” warned the Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder, which is why it is so important to obviate these behaviors sooner than later to ensure continued growth and opportunities for self-improvement.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.