Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 1)

passive aggressive house YOU’LL NEVER SEE HOW ANGRY I AM –
I barely know, myself!

PREVIOUS: P-A ‘nice’ comments

SITE: Constructive, Passive & Aggressive Leadership styles

1.The GAME (Post: How its played)
a. Passive-Aggressive ‘disorder’ (PAPD)
A 2-handed ‘game’ (‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne), always requiring the Passive-Aggressive (P-As) person & the Volatile (Vs) one to react.

web-MDapparently compliant behavior, with intrinsic obstructive or stubborn qualities, to cover deeply felt aggressive feelings that cannot be more directly expressed….

Wikipedia ….a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes & passive, usually disavowed resistance … expressed as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible….

DSM VI … the behavior often reflects an unexpressed hostility or resentment stemming from a frustrating interpersonal or institutional relationship on which an individual is overly dependentScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.00.40 PM

The Straight Dope …people who suffer from PAPD expect disappointment, and gain a sense of control over their lives by bringing it about.

b. ACoAs: MANY of us grew up in one of 2 emotional climates :
emotionally volatile – being around loud, hyper, dramatic, raging, volatile parents / relatives – which has made some ACoAs gun-shy. We had to sit on our own anger – there was so much flying around, and we didn’t want to be like them, so we shoved our rage into a huge locked room & tried to throw away the key. So now it comes out sideways!

emotionally repressed – the other extreme found some of us in a family of uptight, buttoned down, emotionally cut-off, perhaps P-A types, who made a point of suppressing any intense emotion in their children. They may have believed it was ‘spiritually correct’, or they just didn’t want their own repressed pain to get triggered, and they didn’t have the skill/ tools to deal with ‘big feelings’ from their kids. We either copied their style or became ‘dramatic’ & over-reactive to everything.

• Both styles have deeply effected our relationship to anger & rage.
IMP: These are normal human EMOTIONS (Es), which are just forms of energy & by themselves are not dangerous or bad.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.09.50 PM.png
✶✶ What to watch out for are the ACTIONS we take to express these Es! If we express them safely, we don’t hurt anyone & in fact feel lighter & can function better. If they’re expressed badly we can cause pain to others, while adding to our shame, guilt & S-H.

c. Briefly:  P-As have a huge amount of accumulated anger & rage (from childhood, as well as in adulthood), which they’re not allowed to feel, much less admit to – in order to be the ‘good’ one. They have cultivated such a facade of ‘niceness’ they have fooled themselves (but not everyone).  They may be the Hero or Lost Child from any dysfunctional family –  the Rescuers, the People-pleasers, or the Invisibles. (Toxic Roles”)

no, no

P-As compulsively resent, oppose & thwart – indirectly – what they see as demands to function at a level others expect of them. They’re convinced that they’re still not allowed to have real power for themselves, & are afraid to admit their anger at being neglected & unloved. They end up saying NO to their own needs & wants – and to anything that would be good for them.

So they live in a state of deprivation, expecting others to read their mind & provide what they won’t give themselves. P-As are rarely if ever able to state outright what they want & don’t want, or distinguish between actual bullying & appropriate requests. They just say NO to everyone, regardless.

Suppressing their anger is a form of negative self-control, & then put all the rest of their effort into trying to control other people’s emotions, so they can sneakily get them to do what the P-A wants.  In light of their self-imposed limitation, P-As are inwardly driven to push hidden handsothers toward their secret goal (to prove they can’t be pushed around, and to get back at anyone who’s hurt them OR their substitutes) – while seeming to not push at all. (re. controlling). It’s a way:
— to get their agenda across without risking consequences &/or

NEXT: P-A ACoAs – Review (Part 2)


OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 1)

speak up for me
(I hope no one minds 🙄)

PREVIOUS : Neg EXTERNAL results from others (#2)

SITE : 45 Confidence Exercises…..

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TNS)

Undoing our TNS isn’t accomplished by becoming a nasty bully or resentful isolate. Instead, we can apply the wisdom which the Snake of fable had not understood – that occasionally it’s necessary to hiss! Emotional maturity is about balancing between being well-behaved & putting our foot down when needed. BTW – both are only effective when coming from our Healthy Adult E.S. Ironically, being too nice also does others a disservice – preventing them from being their best, by giving their Inner Brat opportunities to come out & play whenever they feel like it – on our head!

The following TOOLS, used all together, can move us along in the right direction, (from Damage—–>——>——-> to Wellness), but if we’ve been a life-long people-pleaser, it’s going to take time, patience & perseverance. Remember ODAT & never give up!

++ “Getting it” in your bones that you didn’t cause your need to develop co-dependence (Co-dep) will greatly quiet the self-hate and PP voices, which say that it is your fault. Then you can outgrow the need for people-pleasing (P-P) which is one of many defense mechanisms. We are “Damaged, not defective”

☁︎ If you’re an ACoA, your needs & emotions (Es) were PP voicestomped on & ignored. Being ‘too nice’ was one way you survived, even if your siblings chose a different way to protect themselves. What does this tell us?
That we used whatever we could to deal with an emotionally & physically dangerous upbringing. We didn’t create that situation, SO this pattern is not an innate flaw in us. It’s correctable!

Tool 1. Facing FEARS

++ It’s normal for Co-deps to be fear-based, given our history. That fear may never go away completely, but can become much less intense. As we thaw out emotionally we can experience our feelings quicker when something hurts us – instead of it registering months or years later. Feeling old pain, as well as emotions that come up from a current event, will free up a lot of psychic energy we use to hold them down. This freedom makes us less scared, which gives us the courage to ask for what is rightfully ours, diminishing the grip of co-dependence.

Outgrow P-P is a combination of:
— rooting out abusive self-talk & correcting distorted ideas about life (CDs)
— consistently comforting & nurturing ourselves (self-care)

☁︎  T.E.A. = Most people combine Thinking (more from the Left brain) & Emotions (more from the Right brain) into one big messy hodgepodge.
If someone were to ask you (or you ask yourself) : “Are your/my fears realistic?” they are not referring to the emotion of fear, but rather to the toxic rules, projections, S-H….(Ts) that scare you (E).
Fear isL & R BRAIN fear – it’s neither realistic or unrealistic, which only applies to thinking. (“Feelings aren’t facts”).
Intense painful emotions are a signal that you’ve either tapped into childhood trama-pain, &/or you’re torturing yourself with cruel self-talk, causing terror.

Years of abusive & abandoning experiences created our fear – accumulating every hour, every day that we lived with those people (family, school, religion, neighborhood….). That feeling is an absolutely normal, appropriate emotional response to those events. We carry that pile of terror in our body, which we now attach to thoughts & current events – adding to the pile, keeping P-P in place (“Anxiety & T.E.A.s”)

REVERSED – As Co-deps we often get both our mental & emotional reactions backwards.  In terms of fear:
• we ignore or underplay emotionally damaging effects caused by actual people & situations that are inappropriate or outright harmful to us, BUT have a real effect on us even so, & yet —
• we can over-react emotionally with S-H & FoA to PPT that are either not dangerous at all, or are those uncomfortable pain-in-the-butt “that’s life” situations which seem overwhelming, but actually are fairly easy to smooth out, once we come to see them in a true perspective, & learn how to manage them

💚 So don’t let others keep confusing you. Be clear whether you (or they) are talking about Thoughts/beliefs OR Emotions – or Actions, & know how they’re related – or not!  Es can be a response to an As, without causing harmful Ts:
EXP: I can be very frustrated & angry (E) about a situation I truly have no control over, such as ‘being laid off from a job/ loss of a relationship/ illness of a loved one….’ (A), yet still have a positive mental attitude about myself, my life, even my future, such as “It’s not my fault / I know I can find something or someone else / I’m actually better off now / I pray for them….” (T). (See many posts re. EMOTIONS)

NEXT: Outgrowing P-P #2

Co-Dep Angry-Nice UNDERPINNINGS (Part 1)


unless I try a lot harder

PREVIOUS: Co-dep #1

SITEQs @ Co-dep
False beliefs @ being angry

Co-dependence UNDERPINNINGS (all at the same time!)
• Hero – of your own story, but not really. Your sense of importance & value is totally dependent on what you can do for others, whether they want it or not, and on how others react to you. If they respond positively, you can breathe. If they don’t – even once – you feel like the rug’s been pulled out. So you have to keep running from the monster (the Introject), to make sure you always do the right thing – for others – but never for yourself

• Jelly – inside. A quivering mass of terror & self-flagellation, always waiting for the other shoe to drop! The least little thing that goes wrong – you blame yourself – whether others hurt your feelings, or heaven-forbid you don’t know something, or make even a tiny mistake – all reasons to condemn yourself

• Mind-reader – sure you know what everyone else is thinking  –MINd]D READING about you. Your shame & S-H ‘knows’ it’s never anything good, so you never bother to actually find out by asking, lest your suspicions prove to be true

• Martyr – taking on the burdens of everyone else, carrying their suffering for them, assuming they are weak & you’re so much stronger

• Secret Superman/ Wonder-woman – able to leap tall buildings with your determination to march on alone in spite of all your hardships, proving your ability to save others, while never needing any help yourself

• Antennae – that constantly swivel back & forth towards everyone else, overly attuned to your assessment/assumption of other people’s emotions & needs – whether accurate or not. Your focus is for external approval, rather than internal self-fulfillment. Left to your own devices, you feel lost, purposeless, even empty

• Brakes – like on a car – but only the emergency one, keeping you locked in place, stuck in the mud of your pain, so you can’t take care of yourself. You think if you stand perfectly still you’ll be safe, but all you’re doing is trading real freedom & enjoyment for fake-protectioncrazy committee

• A Committee – a dangerous ’round’ table in your head of warring factions – each with an opposing point of view, vying for the upper hand – AND all negative. They’re so loud, you can’t find your own voice, & they drive you crazy, because you’re trying to make sense of craziness!

• Distortions – of thinking (CDs) that warp the way you see & interpret the world – thru the haze of Toxic Rules, FoA & S-H. This includes a skewed idea of Higher Power/God. ACoAs automatically assume that “God is an Alcoholic Parent”. We either:
— hate the whole ‘spirituality’ issues because God didn’t rescue us from very real childhood trauma, or
— try to earn love & acceptance by good works (people-please HP) or
— we assume the ‘universe’ is against us, no matter what we do, just like it was at home


Weak DECISION Styles (Part 1)

it’ll always be wrong!

PREVIOUS: Procrastinators Anon Tools



• First 6 of 18 types of un-sound decision-making (D.M.) styles & their corrections. (No known source) While these types all represent dysfunction, people gravitate to one of these styles as a reflection of their inborn approach to life, along with an unhealthy upbringing.
• No matter what our personal style, ACoAs have a great deal of difficulty making decisions. This deficiency has nothing to do with our basic intelligence, only our damage. An apparent exception are those in the Hero / Rescuer family role – who seem to be able to make decisions easily & continuously. But the hidden worm in the fruit is that they only do it on behalf of others. Decisions for themselves are rare & usually unhealthy

– D.M. is the process of identifying & choosing alternatives, based on our values & preferences &
– D.M. is the process of reducing enough uncertainty & doubt about our options to give us the freedom to pick out the best one at the moment

❀ SOME REASONS we have trouble with D.M.
• not having a clear identity (who am I, how do I present myself, what do I need or want….)
• letting the WIC (wounded inner child) be in charge of considering what to do, who either acts impulsively or is stuck / paralyzedbad decisions
• not trusting the knowledge, judgment & experience we’ve gathered throughout our life
• not realizing we have options to choose from, or better options than we think we have
not having permission to change our minds – about anything!
• being in denial about what we know regarding a person or situation

• fear of making the wrong choice – we think the wrong one will have life & death consequences, or result in severe punishment or self-hate, afraid of taking risks, asking for help, getting good things
• co-dependence: wanting to please everyone, all the time
• growing up with a series of double-binds (paralyzes us)
• not having enough or the correct information to decide accurately
• using CDs (cognitive distortions) in thinking about a problem

➼ As we Recover, some of these reasons melt away, some diminish & some we struggle with throughout life – & which is which will be different for different people.

ACoAS being SCAPEGOATED (Part 4)

that I am NOT bad, stupid or weak!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs being Scapegoated (#4)

SITE: ‘The Scapegoat’

ACRONYMS page for abbrev.


● To survive, Scapegoats (Sc) had to build a wall around the toxic family’s shadow energies they were forced to swallow, hiding the origin of the abuse. Even so, now the least little emotional ‘bump’ is felt as an extreme when touching old wounds they haven’t yet learned to process & contain.

a. The WIC in every Sc automatically assumes they can’t cope with intense emotions (fear, anger, sadness…), but are often crippled by them in the form of anxiety. And those who can’t consciously admit they were the family victim, mistakenly believe they should not be in so much distress, because to them being ‘normal’ means not being ‘upset or unhappy’.

b. To compensate for being rejected by ‘loved ones’, some Sc cover it up by feeling omnipotent, seeing themselves as the ‘chosen one’ (which they are – but in a very sick way) for having the ‘special strength’ to carry the guilt & misery of others – their way of keeping the family together!

These adult Sc live in the grandiose belief that “I can do everything for everyone who needs me”, while resenting others for not providing them with their own un-spoken needs! They feel cut off from the rest of human experience for suffering ‘more’ than anyone else, but also superior & above it all!

If you were the designated Scapegoat, YOU:
• blame yourself for the original abuse, & look for rational reasons for the way you were treated, BUT
• have developed a lack of trust & deep resentment against the world, while maintaining self-hate & hopelessness

• feel worthless, ugly, stupid, incompetent AND crazy!
• live out the negative messages heaped on you as a kid, which prevented self-esteem – by not developing your potential, getting into harmful & unfulfilling relationships, letting abusers walk all over you…..

• struggle academically & avoid opportunities which include competition
• OR try to prove your worth by becoming an over-achiever, often to the detriment of you true needs & dreams

• feel overburdened, at the edge, marginalized, but still responsible for the tribe’s shadow side (clean up others’ messes, sooth anger in a group, ‘keep an eye’ on everything, listening to others dump, put out ‘fires’….)

• feel misunderstood & burned out, BUT duty-bound, noble, virtuous, self-sacrificing, AND
• are inevitably fueled by the accusing ‘ “internalized voice (PP), Self-Hate disapproving of yourself & others, & scapegoating your children
• feel a lot of shame for being ‘the bad guy’, bur also rage at being blamed for the family’s dysfunction

• are desperate to find acceptance but can’t hear complements or absorb caring when it’s available, finding life almost impossible to manage, SO —
• tend to look for acceptance outside of yourself, making you vulnerable to manipulating individuals & groups who thrive on taking advantage. Religious cults, criminal organizations, & violent or sexual predators lure their victims by initially offering validation to Sc, who want to belong, but have not learned to recognize users & abusers (underlying similarities to their family) abuse S-H

• carry psychological & emotional scars. Sc may not start out with a mental illness (altho some ACoA Sc are predisposed because of parental alcoholism), but are highly likely to develop one or more – after years of being subjected to this abuse.

Common reactions are academic failure, delinquency, depressions, drug/ alcohol abuse, rages, PTSD, stress-related ADD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sexual acting out/pregnancy….. especially in teens, & can continue for many years into adulthood.

It can take Sc half a lifetime (30s & up) to get the right information that will put the pieces of the puzzle together. Once they realize that all the blame & slander they’ve endured came from the very people who were supposed to love them the most on this earth, they often decide to cut interactions. This may be to avoid dealing with the truth, OR because they’ve developed enough emotional strength & support to stop putting themselves in harm’s way.

NEXT: ACoAs – being Scapegoated (Part 6a)


being blamed 

No matter what I do, it’s wrong!

PREVIOUS: Self-Hate – #3

SEE posts : What is Guilt?
What is Shame?
• ACoAs’ Need for Revenge


There is a lot of talk in the ‘spiritual’ community about forgiveness – ie – that we should not be blamers. Not blaming ourselves (S-H) or others (an attack) is a good rule for us in the present – now that we’re adults. And that’s a discussion for another post.

However, those same teachers & preachers never talk about what was done to us as kids – that among many other types of harm, our parents unfairly, inappropriately blamed us for all kinds of things – and what that did to our tender & vulnerable developing sense of identity!  This post is about what happened TO US as children. A hallmark of alcoholic (& other emotionally unhealthy) families is the mistreatment of their children in all 4 of life’s aspects: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical.

➼ Parents blaming their children for ANYTHING is ABUSIVE. Blaming us is the same as holding us responsible for their deficiencies & unhappiness.
Remember – abuse is not just physical, in all its forms. It encompasses all the ways people harm others – especially their children – by injuring another’s rights, self-esteem, mental clarity, sense of safety, emotional equilibrium & boundaries. So Blame fits into 3 categories – S, M & E.

Our damaged parents blamed us for things which :Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.06.44 AM
a. were NOT our fault (difficulties because of a learning disability, like dyslexia or ADD; the illness or death of a parent; a parent being left by a lover or spouse…)
b. was a projection of what the parents are guilty of (being fearful, irresponsible, lazy, feeling unlovable, risk-averse….)
c. we were not doing what they’re being accused of (being a ‘whore’ when she’s too young to have had sex at all OR seducing a parent’s lover/ spouse, when that adult is actually sexually abusing the child; using drugs, when the kid never has…)

d. we couldn’t do, especially without any instruction, & is accused of being stupid – when he/she legitimately can’t know something (fixing a car or other machinery, shopping by themselves, ‘getting; a hard school subject,  expected to know how to fix a parent’s personal, sexual & financial problems or forced to take care of a drunk or crazy parent, alone…)
e. were actually no one’s fault (an act of God, getting sick or having an accident…
f. one of our siblings or other child did, but we were held responsible for, especially if we were the Hero or Scapegoat (start a fight; steal or break something; get into trouble at school…)

g. our parents were jealous of, because they couldn’t do something we could (a natural skill or gift) & so they made that ability a bad thing
h. was mostly not true – like: always lying (“Kids always lie so we can’t believe anything they say”), always being stubborn, selfish, too sensitive, difficult, disobedient, stupid….Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.07.37 AM
➼ This may be a group of normal childhood characteristics which:
— sick parent cannot tolerate because of their own issues
— occur sometimes as a defense in the child because of family abuse & neglect…
— happen occasionally because kids are human ie. imperfect. Those behaviors & attitudes then get demonized – which make them both a ‘sin’ and more likely to continue, while we try to be perfect. We CAN’T WIN in a sick environment.

SOURCES of Parental Blame
a. Projecting their own self-hate, frustration & inadequacy onto us
b. Copying what was done to them – without any self-awareness, considering the effect on us or questioning if their behavior made sense
c. Automatically reacting badly to normal child behaviors which trigger their own old pain (their denied traumas, still unresolved)

d. Another way to take the focus off of themselves – making us responsible for their unhappiness allowed them to keep their denial in tact, thus perpetuating the ‘disease’ of alcoholism & narcissism
e. Parental Narcissism – seeing us as an extension of themselves, rather than as separate individuals, & their need for us to be perfect – in order to keep up the illusion of their personal & family OK-ness.

Kids are too young & vulnerable to fight back, stand up for themselves or even understand exactly what’s being done to them – only that it HURTS! And when they’re old enough to try – if they dare – they’re punished without mercy!
➼ Pushing away intense S-H & shame —> creates the need to BLAME someone or something else for ones own fears & lacks.

Now when others blame us (if were victimized that way as kids) :
a. we believe what that person is accusing us of (boss, parent, lover, friend…) because it agrees with our Negative Introjectblamed
b. we take that blame on, which feeds our self-hate. We feel terrible, & try to ‘be/do better’ BUT we may not have been at fault in the first place and one can never win, anyway, when dealing with a blamer!

c. we continue to choose (unconsciously) those people as friends, lovers, bosses… who already have the habit of blaming others – TO:
• keep us connected to / locked into our family system, from a sense of loyalty, love AND denial about how much that system harmed us
• validate our self-hate: after all, if our family told us over & over that we’re a mess – and see – all these other people tell us that too – then it must be true !
➼ THAT WAY we never have to hold our parents responsible for their verbal & emotional abuse, because it feels ‘safer’ to keep blaming ourselves, even though it’s self-destructive! (review: “They did the BEST they could post, #2, b, ii.)

NEXT: ACoAs’ need for revenge

ACoAs – “Being Negative” (Part 3)

sucks my air!!

PREVIOUS: Negative Thinking (Part 1)

SITE: “Depression & Letting go of Negative thoughts

YOU’re too negative IF :

• you’re always complaining about things, even when it’s in a rational, logical-sounding way, “This —- is an interesting tidbit to mull over”
• you’re constantly noticing the flaws in things (people, activities, ideas)
• you have a tough time seeing the bigger, overall positive picture
• you get a secret pleasure when being negative with someone else, or tearing something down
• you see a flaw in something & just have to let everyone know, getting a little rush from being ‘right’ & superior
• you think positive people are naive or fake, have low standards, easily impressed

YOU’re too negative WHEN:
• even a trivial flaw in something (good) will ruin it for you
• someone suggests an activity or product, & we’re too quick to point out why it won’t work or why it’s a bad idea
• things get under our skin we ‘have to’ rant about them to anyone who will listen
• others talk about the positive aspects of something – you have this urge to say, “Yeah, but…” pointing out its weaknesses
• something’s realistically going well, but you’ve got a dozen reasons why it’s dumb, no good, won’t turn our well, is impractical ….

NEGATIVE thinking can come from our family, a personality trait that gets over-expressed, or seen as a ‘useful’ trait. SOME of us:
• picked up a negative style from people we grew up with or around
• rely on negativity as a crutch in conversations. We negativitywouldn’t know what to say if we weren’t complaining about or critiquing something
• romanticize negativity, thinking it’s being a deep, complicated, tortured soul

• often get worked up about things & then vent, because it feels great
• are a little too rational. Not in touch with our own emotions, we don’t realize negative comments are harmful to others
• think that getting others caught up in our personal troubles is a reliable way for us to seem ‘deep, serious….’reasons for NEG

• think we’re being ‘intellectual’ – as if pointing out the flaws in everything (unsolicited, unprovoked) is a sign of perceptiveness, analytical ability & honed critical thinking skills
• associating negativity with having refined tastes, as if putting down ‘mediocre’ things would show how discerning we are
• assume being cynical & overly skeptical about life with being ‘in the know’ of aware of how the world really works
• may think it’s just our style of humor – a way to be a clever, observational comedian or commentator

Negative Thinking (NT)
• Anyone reading this blog & other self-growth material, going to 12-step meetings & therapy – knows this category of NT is a core issue for ACoAs. It’s called self-hate (S-H) – powerful, deadly & tenacious! If our parents were unable to love us unconditionally OR not at all (no matter that they said), we concluded it was because we weren’t worth it.

✶ So, our WIC is sure that if the family didn’t make us feel wanted, safe & accepted, why would anyone else? We think cruel things & say them to others about ourselves, while secretly being smug about being victimized by the whole universe! Playing the role of the victim allows us to not be responsible for our own life, in the present, while protecting the illusion of coming from a loving (or at least an ok) family.

NT (S-H) prevents us from believing that we:
• can ever deserve love, validation, respect, peace, joy….
• even know what love is, even tho we have indeed loved (children, animals, mates, activities, careers, locations, certain foods / arts …)
• will be liked (much less loved) by healthy ‘normal’ people

• can’t leave bad relationships because it would condemn us to being completely alone (forever)
• have the right to healthy, loving connections (family, friends, lovers…)
• have anything positive to offer others (personality, skills, experience..)
• have the right to look for & interact with accomplished people & other peers whom we could enjoy & benefit from
SEE “The 12 Worst Relationship Mindsets (based on CDs)

NEXT: “Being Negative (Part 3)