Throughout my many years of waitressing, I have witnessed some deplorable human behavior. People tend to be their most authentic selves when they are hungry and in a position of power. I have seen the best and worst of humanity while working in restaurants. Of all the rude, condescending, juvenile conduct I have been privy to, my least favorite is passive-aggressiveness. There is nothing so irritating as someone who licks their plate clean, then responds to an inquiry about the meal with a long-suffering sigh. "Oh, I don't was okay." Another sigh. "I guess I just expected something different." Cue another sigh.

Give me a problem to fix, and I will do my best to seek a solution. But don't just sigh and moan and grudgingly tell me that everything is okay. At that point, you're just being a drama queen. You don't want a solution, you just want to whine.

I think this behavior irritates me because, deep down, I know I could easily slip into this role of the passive-aggressive nuisance. I hate confrontation, and find it very uncomfortable to be direct when I have to focus on the negative. Throughout my life, people have always referred to me as calm, laid-back, and passive. This is all well and good, but even the most relaxed among us will occasionally find it necessary to be direct. And if someone can't, or won't...hello, repressed rage.

In Chinese medicine, the Liver is in charge of anger. Liver energy tends to rise within the body, which is why we see Livery types develop headaches, high blood pressure, and sometimes even dizziness. You know that red-faced guy who is honking his horn and screaming with road rage? Typical Liver presentation. We acupuncturists see rage as an internal fire within the body. Symptoms of rage always seem to be "hot": red face, red eyes, hot skin. And what happens to a fire when it isn't extinguished? It will continue to sizzle the life out of everything around it. That's what happens to you when you experience unrelenting rage. It will eventually suck all the life out of you.

If we see rage as fire rising within the body, then passive-aggressiveness would be its opposite number: stagnation. Anger is energy powerfully moving upward, and passive-aggressiveness is all this energy just bubbling beneath the surface, stuck. It has no vent, so it's just going to silently simmer, causing frustration and discontent.

To be honest, I think that some people actually like being in this state of discontent. It's so noble to suffer in (near) silence, isn't it? But it isn't that easy. All that frustration needs to go somewhere. If it isn't expressed to the one who has wronged you, it doesn't simply vanish. It will just keep festering, leading to further stagnation. All of this could be avoided by simply speaking up when the need arises!