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Crazy-Makers: Dealing with Passive-Aggressive People

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

When You Have Been Betrayed

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank


Emotion Training: What is it and How Does it Work?

How You Can Be More Resistant to Workplace Bullying

Are You Passive Aggressive and Want to Change?

When Your Loved One Refuses Help

The Porcupine Effect: Pushing Others Away When You Want to Connect

What if You Considered Other Peoples' Views?

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?


Building Blocks Emotion Training

Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

All Audio Articles

Cognitive Diary Example


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The following is an example to help learn how to identify and change irrational thinking. It is best to read the articles defining the irrational styles of thinking prior to trying to identifying the styles in the example. It uses the format of the COGNITIVE DIARY CBT SELF-HELP app. Read: Understanding and Using the Cognitive Diary.

Saying "I'm Fine" When I'm Not

EVENT: When I'm upset I say "I'm fine" instead of talking about the problem

EMOTIONS: hurt, fearful, angry

DISTRESS RATING: 8--High level of distress

THOUGHTS: "I don't want anyone to be angry with me so I avoid conflict by saying "I'm fine." Besides, shouldn't people who care about me know when something bothers me? I'm always attentive to their moods and try not to hurt them--they should do the same thing unless they really don't care about me. I say it in a way that clearly shows I'm not fine.”

CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE IRRATIONAL THINKING IN THIS EXAMPLE? There are at least 3 irrational beliefs.

HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THE THINKING? What is another way of thinking about the situation that won't cause the feelings of hurt, fear, and anger?

The Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help app helps you to determine some ways to challenge the irrational thinking. Once you have done that, it is important to read the rational challenges frequently until they automatically come to mind rather than the irrational thinking.


This situation illustrates how passive-aggressive behavior may be unintentional due to avoidance of another problem.

Irrational Beliefs:
1) Emotional Reasoning. The fear of others' anger is often due to giving their anger validity: "If someone is angry with me, I must have done something wrong." Emotional reasoning is believing that an emotion is reality without evaluating the evidence. This person believes that others' anger must be avoided because she doesn't want to feel bad or guilty. However, instead of automatically assuming guilt if someone is angry, it is necessary to determine whether the anger is reasonable.

Also, it is important to distinguish blame from frustration, irritation, and confusion. Just because someone may seem angry doesn't mean they are blaming. Sometimes they may be frustrated by the situation or irritated by their own handling of the situation or misunderstanding something about the situation. In these common scenarios it doesn't mean that the person did anything wrong. As a result, it is irrational to jump to the conclusion of "I must have done something wrong" just because someone is angry.

2) Mind-reading Expectations. When this person expects others to know what she wants, she is crossing the line from a passive response to a passive-aggressive response (an indirect expression of anger). Mind-reading expectations are a demand that is often associated with anger when that demand is not fulfilled. So, she is angry that others do not know she's upset when she says "I'm fine."

Instead, because she tends to try and read other people's minds, she expects the same from them. However, mind-reading often leads to misunderstandings because there can be many reasons why an assumption about what someone is thinking can be wrong. This means that when a person believes her statement, "I'm fine," they are acting in a rational way because they are not reading more into it. It is irrational of her to expect them to do so.

3) Negative Evaluation of Others. Not only does she expect others to read her mind but she evaluates them negatively if they don't. She views them as not caring about her if they don't recognize she is upset when she says "I'm fine." This situation is a perfect passive-aggressive set-up for blaming others when the real issue is that she doesn't want to deal with conflict and anger. She would be better off if she could at least admit to herself she has a problem with avoiding anger. By acknowledging that she has unreasonable expectations of others, it is not that they don't care, she can begin to deal more directly with her avoidance of anger. By doing so, she can address the real issue rather than engaging in passive-aggressive behavior.

How Can This Thinking Be Changed?
"Saying 'I'm fine' only avoids problems. I can't expect others to know what I want unless I communicate clearly--not everyone can read a tone of voice and know that something is bothering me. Just because I'm attentive to others' moods doesn't mean they have the same ability. Not being able to read my mind does not mean they don't care. I need to say what is bothering me or be able to let it go. If someone gets angry with me for saying what I feel, it does not mean I've done anything wrong."

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