People often think that it is strangers that are more likely to treat us badly, or be aggressive or dangerous to us; but the reality is, it is the people we know that are hurting us, and that we are hurting in return. Throughout the course of our lives we end up hurting those closest to us. These are the people we love and care about, yet we end up hurting them, and we can’t always come to grips with that.
There have been countless songs, and literary works written about it. The phenomenon even has over three decades of research and has been termed “everyday aggression”. This is defined as the aggression that we display in our every day life to those who are closest to us.
It is the people we encounter every day that we are most aggressive to. These can be co-workers, family, friends, or our romantic partners. These are also the people most likely to make us angry, frustrated, or sad. There are several ways we hurt our loved ones.
Direct aggression is when we directly challenge our loved ones and say hurtful things to them, with the intention to hurt their feelings and incite an emotional response. It usually involves yelling at the person, and in particularly abusive cases, it may involve physical violence. Men are more likely to employ this method, but not always.
Indirect aggression is when we hurt people through someone else or other situations. For example, when we spread gossip and rumours about someone, we are hurting them and even hurting their reputation. While indirect aggression isn’t as dramatic as direct aggression, it often makes use of a wider group of people to hurt individual people we know.
Passive aggressiveness is a type of aggressive behaviour. Being avoidant, and unwilling to talk, or compromise are passive aggressive behaviours. These behaviours negatively affect the situation and can prolong conflicts and contribute to furthering the emotional distress of the situation. Sometimes, people who aren’t overly aggressive are passive aggressive. Though it does not present itself as extreme as direct aggression, passive aggressiveness can just as easily make a bad situation worse by undermining resolutions to issues people face.
Despite this phenomenon being common, we don’t talk about it much. We tend to sweep this issue under the rug because confronting the reality that we’re hurting those we care about is a difficult thing to accept. It requires a great deal of introspection, understanding, and acceptance of ourselves, along with all our flaws. We have to openly admit that we’re doing and saying horrible things to people we know and care about, and that people we love and know are doing and saying bad things to us or about us. Both prospects are difficult because it conflicts with the idea that we should love and treat those closest to us better than we treat strangers.
If we want to make sure we really show people we love and care about them, we’ll have to do better than constantly hurting them. We’ll have to figure out what’s happening inside ourselves and accept that first before we can get better.
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