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How Passive Aggressive Behavior Leads to Self Sabotage

You may have noticed that children sometimes play little pranks like hiding their parents’ or sibling’s things – which is usually laughed off, or reprimanded but not too severely. While children are inclined to behave like this in their formative years, it usually gets knocked off as they grow. However, sometimes, this may be a warning sign of a much larger problem. Passive aggression and the tendency towards it may be first noticed through such little behavioural patterns. As the child grows, this tendency to be passive-aggressive may become so deeply ingrained that it can lead to his/her self-sabotage and further lead to more self-destructive behaviours.

So where does this passive aggressiveness originate?

When one is a child, the parents play a very important role in his/her life. However, if either or both parents are very dominating, it can quickly play out in a way that has a long-lasting negative impact on the child. When a parent is dominating, controlling and feels the need to have a huge say in the child’s life, the child can feel claustrophobic and feel the need to hit back. However, a fear of how the parent will react might lead the child to act out in a way that is passive. This claustrophobia leads to inner conflict, making the child behave sneakily. For instance, if the child knows that his father has an important meeting, but the father is the dominant figure, the child may hide the father’s briefcase. When the father becomes stressed out, this may cause the child to be satisfied.


However, when caught, there will be more punishment, and more imposed rules, thus implying that the child sabotaged himself. However, children are not developed enough to understand that this is a cycle – so the more the rules imposed, the higher the chances of passive-aggressiveness and thus higher the destruction caused.

How does this impact the adult life of the individual?

This cyclical pattern of behaviour becomes an ingrained habit. When the child grows up, he begins to exhibit the same kind of behaviour with any dominating authority in his life. At the workplace, if the individual does not receive a promotion from his boss, he begins to behave passive aggressively – which could lead to him losing his job, altogether! Similar such behaviours are commonly observed amongst passive aggressive individuals in their adulthood. To deal with these negative and deep-rooted behaviours, individuals resort to engaging in various addictions in order to numb the pain instead of finding out the root cause. Thus, this self sabotage tendency ends up affecting all facets of the individual’s life by encouraging self-destructive behaviours and addictions.

How can you resolve this?

The best way to resolve the tendency is through different forms of therapy, like hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, transactional analysis and counselling. The adult individual has three inner voices – the current personality, the nurturing parent and the dominant parent. The dominant parent is the critical one – the voice that tells you that you are not good enough when there is a problem. The nurturing parent tells you it will all be okay. The current personality must integrate the two voices to find a balance. This can be achieved through different therapies.

Another method to address this is through transactional analysis wherein the social interactions of the individual are studied to unravel their ego states to further discern their aggressive patterns of behaviour. Here, Ego Grams is the process through which the individual’s personal and professional actions are understood by detecting their origins between their Parent ego state (patterns they have been taught), Adult ego state (Thought concept) and Child ego state (Felt concept of life). All behaviours stem from these categories and understanding their functioning helps in breaking down communication and reclaiming self-worth in the individual’s own eyes.


Illuminations in Dubai conducts workshops to unravel your internal programming through Ego Grams mapping, discovering your shadow selves and your inner child to lead the way to greater personal growth. You can also avail of hypnotherapy training and hypnotherapy courses in Dubai. If your significant other is acting out in passive aggressive ways, relationship and couples counselling in Dubai can be found at this holistic centre for mental wellness and wellbeing. Book a session with our trained professionals here.

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