“How To Guide” on Dealing with Passive Aggressive People :)

Passive-aggressive behavior is defined as the indirect expression of hostility, rejection, insecurity, jealousy, or unfairness such as through procrastination, sarcasm, cancelling plans, coming home late, stubbornness, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible for. When someone is passive aggressive they are not wanting or they dont know how to communicate their feelings directly. Here are 4 pointers to work effectively with the passive aggressive person in your life.

1. Call it out for what it is, naming a behavior disarms the impact of that behavior.  With Passive-aggressive behavior there is a fear and avoidance of direct conflict, while a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness remains. According to Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, “The big thing here is to recognize the phenomenon, the behavior, for what it is — to see it as a kind of hostility and not be fooled by the innocuousness, the sugar-coatedness of it,”

2. Set Limits and Be Assertive.  The truth is, we teach people how to treat us.  If we continually accept maltreatment, we will get more maltreatment.  We need to muster up the courage to confront passive aggressive behavior, call it for what it is, and set limits with that behavior.  Example- if your friend repeatedly breaks plans with you, make other plans vs. staying home and waiting for that person to come around. Your limits are only good to the extent that you maintain them.   Assertiveness is like a muscle, we need to practice it in order to build it.  If you struggle with being assertive, when you first start, you will feel very insecure, awkward, and silly. Embrace these feelings as evidence that your growing your assertiveness muscle vs giving up on it because it’s too hard or uncomfortable.

3. Talk Specifically Not Generally about Behaviors.  When you communicate   refrain from using “all or never statements”  These statements create defensiveness because the reality is people rarely “always or never” do anything.  When you communicate, be clear and concise about the passive aggressive behavior.  Say something like; “When you did __________ I felt _________. Instead of doing _________ can you do _________ next time.

4. Behavior is Everything.   Evaluate the quality of your relationships by the persons’ behaviors, not by their words.  Words can sometimes manipulate, charm, deceive and cause confusion because the persons words are not in agreement with their behaviors.

For more information on passive aggression, there is an excellent article on Psychology Today here.  If you would like help with developing assertiveness skills or with working on your own passive aggressive tendencies,  please call us at 720-204-8747 and set up a consultation today!

Warm Regards,

Kelly Johnson, MA, LPC

3090 S Jamaica Ct Suite 101 Aurora CO 80014

p. 720-204-8747 (Counseling and Therapy)
p. 1-800-592-9571/720-205-8901( Ticket To Work)
f. 1-866-299-7391


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What are you talking about?!?! I’m not ANGRY!!!!

Sound familiar? :)

We are now offering court approved Anger Management groups.   Here are 5 SUREFIRE ways that you can start to control your anger NOW!

1.  Scale your emotions and Identify the emotion behind the Anger.  There are five deadly culprit emotions that are behind anger, if you can identify these emotions before they get to anger than you have successfully navigating a potential anger outburst.  These emotions include; Rejection, Inadequacy, Jealousy, Resentment, and Injustice.  If your anger was on a scale of 1-10, 1-minimal, 10, extreme, you would want to do this scaling excercise when your anger was at about a 3-6.  Identify which one of the deadly culprits is behind your anger and then communicate that to the other person.  Try saying, “When you did ______ I may have felt a little _________.  Instead of doing ________ next time could you do _________instead.

2. Take a Time-Out for 30 minutes.  Take yourself out of the situation that is making you angry and go for a walk.  Getting some distance from the situation allows you to get more of a global perspective vs having a tunnel vision perspective where your opinion is the only one being considered.

3. Disarming Technique.  Find some truth in what the other person is saying.  In conflicts, our ego and pride get in the way from effective communication, so we all need an ego check every now and then. If someone is confronting us, most often there is some TRUTH in what the other person is saying.  we need to disarm our anger by being able to find some TRUTH in what the other person is saying about our behavior and provide understanding and empathy with the other person.

4. Communicate your Needs.  Anger, resentment, distance, coldness, and apathy develop when we are unable to communicate our needs in a relationship.  Most of us were never taught by our family on how to communicate our needs in a relationship.  If this is you, admit your weakness in this area and make it a strength by learning and reading about this topic.  Be vulnerable and communicating your NEED vs. becoming distant and angry.

5. Identify Stress-Releasors in your life and incorporate these into your life.  What makes you relax? What makes you feel good?  What is life-giving for you?  Come up with a list of 10 stress relieving activities and practice them regularly.

If you are interested in signing up for our anger management groups, please call us at 720-204-8747 or sign up on our website.

Cheers to Managing Your Anger This Holiday Season :)

Kelly Johnson, MA, LPC
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Have Sex With Your Socks Off…. And 4 Other Keys To A Successful Relationship

Does the word THRIVE define your most intimate relationship? All too often the answer to this question is a resounding NO. Here are 5 things that you can do NOW to take your relationship from surviving to thriving.

1. EACH NIGHT, ASK THE QUESTION: “HOW ARE YOU?” AND THEN HAVE YOUR PARTNER PAUSE FOR 10 SECONDS BEFORE THEY ANSWER. “How are you?” is a question that gets thrown around a lot and most of us give our auto-pilot answer of “good” or “fine”.  The 10 second pause forces us to look inward and give a more heartfelt and honest response.


3. Date night 1x a week religiously and take turns planning the date, be creative and fun!(this can even be done at home after the kiddos are sleeping!)

3. Do “FANOS” with each other regularly, this is where you and your partner share a……

F-eeling (print off this feeling wheel to get beyond bored, busy, tired, & hungry answers ;)
A-ffirmation. Give a genuine praise or compliment to your partner.
N-eed. Share a need that you have.
O-wnership. Take ownership and apologize for any hurtful behaviors.
S-truggle. Share a struggle that you had that day or week.

4. Be VULNERABLE.  When you feel rejected by your partner share that with them vs. being distant, rude, angry, or cold.  Say “When you did ______ I might of felt a little rejected.”  If your partner shares that with you, bring your defenses down and really listen with the intent of understanding NOT defending.  Also,  be vulnerable with sharing positive feelings as well.  Saying something like, “When you did _______ I felt really loved by you, thank you!”  For more information on this topic, please read the book, Daring Greatly.

5. Have Sex with your socks off!  This concept is about allowing sex to be an experience vs a performance.  For more information on this topic, please read The Passionista or She Comes First, these are both excellent books on increasing sexual intimacy in marriage.

Wishing you healing and health in your relationships this holiday season:)

Kelly Johnson, MA, LPC
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Our Anger Iceberg

iceberg11-470x260When we find ourselves getting angry, we often overlook other emotions we might be feeling. Anger can be such an overwhelming emotion that this understandable. Anger takes over our body, making us feel alert, tense, short of breath, other sensations. Anger also takes over our mind, making it hard to think about anything else. Checking in with ourselves in the moment of anger can be impractical. If we can better track our emotions throughout the day, we may be gain insight into what types of things push of over the edge: bring us from irritated to angry. There may not be one thing in our day that makes us angry, sometimes we have a roller coaster of a day and that last big hill is just too much. What are some emotions that are often a part of you day? Maybe a lot of things make you feel slightly irritated throughout the day. Maybe you feel tired so much that it’s hard to deal with stressful events. Maybe you’re really sad about something and it comes out as anger. We can think about anger as an iceberg. When you’re on a boat, you only see the top of the iceberg and it doesn’t look that big. That’s the anger. Sometimes we only show the tip of our emotions, or that may be the only part we feel and are aware of. When you look beneath the surface, however, we are more complicated than that. We have a lot of things going on in our lives that are really hard to deal with and it’s too hard to handle all those other feelings. The hardest part is that we may not even realize that we’re doing this. It can be so helpful to learn how to increase Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This is an understanding of our emotions and the ability to perceive other’s emotions. EQ can dramatically change our interactions with people. When you know how you’re feeling and what to do with those emotions and you can read how other’s are feelings, you have the opportunity to see the entire iceberg. Clarity comes with EQ. Some people say that it is an inherent ability, but here at The Center for Healing and Change, we can give you tools to increase your EQ and start to have better relationships.

This site can give you more information about EQ.

Please set up an appointment today.

Wishing you clarity,

Courtney Crotty, Graduate Intern

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Preventing Anger

Finding_CalmHave you ever thought of your anger as being preventable? Reactions to anger, such as walking away or taking deep breaths, can be helpful in the moment. However, you can prevent the moment from even happening. There are many feelings underlying anger. Learning which ones push us over the edge is so important in preventing uncontrollable anger. The most important thing we need to learn is that anger does not just pop up out of nowhere. There are typically a series of events that lead up to strong feelings of anger. It can be so helpful for us to learn which events typically build on each other. Some of these events may seem minute or we may unconsciously brush them off. An example of an event like this might be that our significant other did not put away the knife they used to make a sandwich. We may feel a pang of frustration when we notice, but we’ll usually just take care of it and forget about it.  When we think back and try to find activating events, these are the ones that are harder to point out. Some events are obvious, such as the person in front of us at the grocery store who asks for paper bags after his groceries are already in plastic. It is important to note here that these are examples and may or may not be a big deal for you. People react so differently to the same life events, and learning about yourself is the biggest part of counseling. Our goal is to help you identify those “big” and “little” events so you can be more intentional with how you respond to them. “I’m noticing this seemingly small thing is bringing up emotions for me. I’m consciously deciding to let it go and to not allow it to affect my day.”

Please come to the Center for Healing and Change we can help you learn what building up for you throughout your day and give you effective tools for handling those triggers.

Wishing you a calm Halloween,

Courtney Crotty, Graduate Intern

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Alternatives to Anger

What are some things you can do with your anger besides lashing out? Anger is strong emotion that can be helpful to us in some situations.  It is part of the “fight or flight” response that we need for survival.  Our heart rates and breathing increase and we become extremely focused.  The problem is that we cannot fight everything that makes us angry.  We could get in trouble, lose relationships, or destroy things.  The piece of anger where we become extremely focused is helpful when we are being attacked, but not so helpful when we are pissed off at the fast-food worker for getting our order wrong.  We get into trouble when we cannot let it go, be assertive without being aggressive, or calm ourselves down.  These three alternatives are ways to handle our anger without being aggressive.  “Letting it go” can be helpful in the moment and allow us to handle the situation the way we want to.  However, using this tool as our only resource can lead to unresolved feelings in the long run.  Calming ourselves down is the same type of tool but it helps with the physiological aspect of anger.  Calming techniques help lower our heart rate and slow down our breathing, allowing our minds and bodies to relax enough to handle the situation how we want to.  A third technique is to be assertive without being aggressive.  This will help us get our feelings off our chest and express what we need without harming another person physically or emotionally or breaking something.  The problem with this technique is that we cannot always tell someone how we feel or what we need. For example, we cannot have a civil conversation with the person who did not use their turn signal.  Following them until they get out of their car to talk with them and tell them how frustrated we are is typically unacceptable. Using these three tools at different times in different situations can be so helpful.  However, this can be easier said than done.  For help implementing these tools into your daily life, please schedule an appointment with us at The Center for Healing and Change.

To Healthily Expressing Ourselves,
Courtney Crotty, Graduate Intern

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Writing Our Chapters

old-books-32Do you ever look back on your life and wonder, “What have I been doing all these years?” It can be easy to focus on the hard times we’ve had and forget about all of the good things.  Dr. Ira Progoff developed a specific method of journaling to help us notice high points and low points and to look at how these events impact our world today. An important note to make here is to resist placing judgment on the events in our lives and simply notice how they impacted us, how they made us feel, and how we feel thinking about them now.  Journaling can be a weird, foreign language for people.  This exercise does not have to be structured like a journal but we can think of it as a map of our lives.  We are picking out stepping stones that led us to where we are now.

There are different variations of this exercise but I’m going to focus on “My life as an autobiography.” This about your life in chapters.  These can be chronological chapters, divided up by people or events, or placed in any order that makes sense to you.  They key is to come up with 10-12 “chapters” with titles.  An examples of a chronological setup: “High School: Learning about Independence,” “College: Refiguring myself.” Here is an example of chapters by people: “Stephanie: Losing a Best Friend,” “My Mom is my Rock.” Make sense?  Go ahead and try this out yourself!  Don’t feel like there is a right way or that you have to be happy with how you set it up the first time.  Try not to overthink the process but focus on the events that shaped you.

Now that you have your autobiography, you may be thinking, “What do I do with this information?” For help going through your chapters and figuring out the best way to handle this new way of thinking about your life, visit us at the Center for Healing and Change.  We are happy to help make sense of your chapters.

To read more about journaling your life, visit this website.

To learning about ourselves,
Courtney Crotty, Intern


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Finding Contentment

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut.  Something in our lives has been hard and isn’t going the way we planned.  It can be a terrible feeling and sometimes this rut can turn into depression.  When we get depressed, we can often feel hopeless, alone, and uninterested in living life to its fullest.  The hard times turn into something more and it can be hard to deal on our own.  This is a time when counseling can help.  Overall, the goal of counseling is to help us figure out our emotions and learn how to handle these emotions.  Sometimes we go into counseling wanting to feel better that day, but learning about our emotions can be a process.  We can feel better simply knowing someone is there to care about us and listen to us but we will have to work a little bit to see lasting effects.  One article suggests that feeling content is a better goal to begin with than feeling great.  Feeling content can get us to a place where we can start to enjoy the things we used to, be interested in finding joy in life, and learn to take the hard stuff in stride.  Brown (2014) suggests that contentment is a state of mind and happiness is a mood state which is less stable and found in moments.  Below are some of her tips on how to find contentment in our life in order to find happiness in special moments.

  1. Practice being present minded.
  2. Recognize that our emotions are fleeting.
  3. Contentment is a lasting state.

Read the full article here.

One way to help us recognize and be aware of feelings that we are experiencing is the Feelings Wheel.  By studying this, we can get a closer look at what feelings we might be experiencing under the surface.  For example, sometimes when we feel mad, we may be experiencing shame, guilt, or frustration.  These deep feelings can come to the surface as anger.



Come to the Center for Healing and Change for help gaining contentment in your life and happiness in your moments.

Wishing you peace of mind,
Courtney Crotty, Intern

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Tips for a Strong Relationship

The relationships we choose to foster have a huge impact on our lives. The strength of the relationship and the value we place on it determine what kind of impact it will have. Relationships can be on a spectrum from strong to fragile and from high importance to indifference. If a relationship is important to us, the strength is going to impact our feelings, our thoughts about ourselves, and our overall happiness more than if the relationship is not as important. This applies to relationships with our significant others, co-workers, friends, and families. There are a few ways to determine how strong those important relationships are and if there are areas that need some work. It is important to remember that no relationship is perfect and they always require work to stay in balance.

1. No games are being played.
2. Everyone is on the same page.
3. The line of communication is open, honest, and clear.
4. Loving deeds consistently reinforce loving words.
5. Expectations of perfection are strictly forbidden.
6. Honesty, vulnerability, and presence are held sacred.
7. There is a healthy blend of freedom and teamwork.
8. Personal growth is embraced, celebrated, and shared.
9. Outsiders aren’t calling the shots.

These tips are from the blog Mark and Angel Hack Life.

Learn more about Couple’s Counseling or how counseling can help you make the most of your relationships at The Center for Healing and Change.

To strong and happy relationships,
Courtney Crotty, Intern

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Now vs. Later

Procrastination is something many of us struggle with.  It can keep us from doing the best we can on projects or it can keep us from attempting our biggest dreams.  We’ve all been in the position where we have something we’ve been meaning to do for weeks but Netflix sounds so much better, right? Though it is good to have time to ourselves, consistently putting things off until a later time can increase our stress and anxiety.  We’ve found 7 tips that can help you get things done sooner.

  1. Do it first thing in morning.
  2. Do it every day.
  3. Do it for one hour every day.
  4. Find someone to keep you company.
  5. Make necessary preparations.
  6. Commit.
  7. Think about the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the tunnel.

For the full article, visit Psychology Today and if you’d like help getting started on a new, productive you, contact us for a consultation!

To a fruitful week,

Courtney Crotty, Intern

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