Article originally posted for MindBodyGreen.
Two of the most common ways people subvert their own emotions are through people-pleasing and passive-aggression—two different sides of the same coin, both of which are equally dangerous in different ways. They’re both ways of saying yes when you really mean no.
The way you communicate with others has a direct correlation to your physical and mental health. I’ve spent a majority of my career teaching assertiveness, which is the key to building and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as cultivating self-confidence. When you express your wants and needs with others, it allows them to hear you and help. When you hold back or suppress what you are feeling, you are the one that suffers.
What happens when you can’t say no?
If you struggle with people-pleasing—saying yes because you want to be nice, caring, or unoffensive—people will continue to ask for more. If you communicate using passive-aggression—saying yes begrudgingly or while complaining to everyone else but the person asking—then you become the nexus of super-negative energy. The person who is aggravating you doesn’t know what they’re doing is wrong because you haven’t said anything to them. The only thing that changes is your level of stress and frustration, which hurts you in the long run.
When we avoid speaking up and expressing how we feel or what we need, we are sabotaging our self-esteem and allowing negative feelings to build up internally. For example, passive-aggressive people withhold expressing their emotions due to fear, even though they may not even be aware of this. Often people who suppress their feelings are afraid of asking for what they need or expressing their emotions. Passive-aggressive people can’t muster the confidence within themselves to be straightforward and earnest, and so they express their feelings via an angry rant on social media or by complaining to someone else, leaving a note, or blaming another person for their emotions. If they express themselves in these indirect or halfhearted ways, they at least feel a tiny sense of relief—though it never equates to feeling satisfied or allowing others to know how they really feel. These people end up having more resentment and repressed anger, which leads to more stress on the body from holding in their feelings.