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passive aggressive behavior

Dr. Angela Shiels sees a common problems every holiday season.

The holidays are when we get together with family, which can be joyous, triggering, or a combination of both, depending on who you're related to. Therapist and TikToker Dr. Angelica Shiels says that after the holidays, her clients' most common “hurt feeling” is from passive-aggressive and critical comments from relatives.

The pain stems from the disappointment people feel when trying to spread holiday cheer and are met with "negativity and criticism instead of positivity and enthusiasm" in return.

Dr. Shiels shared some examples of these comments in a video with over 1.3 million views. One examples is when someone is sharing their plants and is confronted with unexpected negativity. "Oh, you have a lot of plants in your house. Do you really need more plants?” Dr. Shiels says.

"When someone is trying to share something about their life, like applying to a new job, someone being negative, like, 'Why would you want to work for Amazon? Don't you know that they're ruining the economy?'" she continued.

"Or if someone's talking about painting their kitchen cabinets and someone says, I heard painting the face of the cabinets reduces the value of the house,” Dr. Shiels said.


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According to Dr. Shiels, these negative or passive-aggressive comments are often honest responses that reveal your family member’s anxieties. Your aunt may be upset about how Amazon has affected the economy, and your brother-in-law probably believes you have too many plants.

The problem is that they took the wrong opportunity to share their thoughts with you and need to learn when it’s appropriate to be critical.

"Unless you ask first — oh, do you want my opinion on this? — It's not helping,” Dr. Shiels said, adding that "it's assuaging your own anxiety at the expense of your connection and relationship with others."