When you feel – Why Is Everyone So Mean To Me? It’s time to ask yourself if this is your perception at work, or are you indeed surrounded by some very mean people?
As a licensed therapist, I’ve worked with people who believe the world is against them, everyone appears mean to them. After working together and thoroughly examining the factors we will discuss below, it becomes apparent, my client’s perception is significantly impacted by negativity.
I have also worked with clients who seemed to attract mean people in their life and continued to repeat these patterns. Part of our work together includes improving self-esteem to help attract better relationships.
As you will see below, there are many things to consider when you feel everyone is being me to you.
Why Is Everyone So Mean to Me? Are All People Mean?
What is your gut telling you? Are you encountering mean people daily? Are you dealing with one mean person in your life, but their contempt colors your perception of other people’s treatment of you? These are some good questions to consider.
If you are dealing with a hardship, feeling depressed, or anxious, these internal experiences can unintentionally color your view of how others are treating you. Take for example the following scenario.
You were just in a fender bender accident last week and now you have to deal with insurance companies, fixing your car, and figuring out transportation. You have been stressed all week with work and figuring out your car issues. Now you find yourself at the grocery store in the check-out lane, and the clerk is dismissive and unfriendly.
Then you go to see your boyfriend who is busy playing his video game and acts a bit cold and detached. Finally, you end your day at home, but when you get home, you realize your roommate didn’t take out the trash and the house smells. By now you are fuming. Everyone was rude, inconsiderate, and mean to you. Might you feel differently if you weren’t dealing with the stress of the car wreck?
If you weren’t under stress, would you have ignored the check-out clerk and chalked up her behavior to being tired, rather than being mean? Would you have visited your boyfriend and considered him distracted with his video game, instead of being dismissive of you? Would you have dismissed your roommate’s forgetfulness to take out the trash, instead of considering her rude and inconsiderate?
In this way of playing the “investigator,” we can evaluate the situation a bit more objectively to see if what we are feeling is an accurate reflection of our experience, or if our perception of events is being influenced by internal stressors.
Are you to blame
It is also important to investigate if you are the common denominator in these situations. If everyone is truly being mean to you, what is the part you are playing in this equation? Could you be unaware of the negativity you are expressing? Are you a pushover and therefore mean people are attracted to you because they can get away with their behavior?
Mean people suck
Many of us are familiar with the “Mean People Suck” bumper sticker, made popular in the late nineties. It is a concise statement and hard to argue. Mean people are unpleasant to be around. When possible, most of us avoid mean people at all costs.
Unfortunately, there are situations when mean people are unavoidable. Perhaps you have a mean person in your family or at work. In these situations, dealing with a mean person brings about a complex range of emotions.
The closer your relationship is to a mean person, the harder it is to deal with the pain of being treated poorly. If you deal with mean strangers, this can be equally as frustrating, but typically the duration of your frustration is more short-term than dealing with someone more significant.
Why are mean people mean
People can be mean for any number of reasons. All of us have been mean to another person and we have all experienced being treated poorly by a mean person. Sometimes people are mean on occasion, like when they are under stress. Other people are consistently nasty, it’s as though they take great pleasure in being mean to others. Then there are those who may not realize they are being mean, they are simply not self-aware.
“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” – Paulo Coelho
They are living with a mental illness
There are some personality disorders and other mental health diagnoses which may contribute to acting out malicious behavior. For instance, the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder describes people who lack empathy for others, often act callous, and manipulate people through charm when it benefits them. (Association, 2013).
Those who are living with a substance abuse disorder may also act out contemptuous behavior when intoxicated or when coming down from a high. Some people struggling with their mental health can experience higher levels of irritability, which may lead to the unintentional mistreatment of others.
Sometimes people feel so bad about themselves they put others down to bolster their sense of self. Often, people confuse aggression for power and in an attempt to feel powerful, are degrading to others.
We have all seen this play out during our younger school days. The kid who probably came from difficult home life, and lacked self-esteem, was the one picking on all the other kids.
People who feel self-assured, loved, and purposeful, don’t have a desire to put others down to make themselves feel better. They get their validation from within, not from the external environment.
Who hasn’t been jealous of someone else at one time or another? People may be jealous of your lifestyle or they may be jealous of your positivity. Jealousy doesn’t bring out the best in most and can cause someone to insult others in an attempt to make themself feel better.
Prior abuse or trauma
Most people in jail weren’t raised in loving homes. Abuse and mistreatment are learned behaviors and are often repeated. It can be a pattern people have difficulty breaking free from, especially if they are trying to do so without the help of therapeutic support.
Perhaps the person who is being mean to you was abused as a child. They may not have developed the proper social skills to deal with their anger and instead, their anger manifests in their mistreatment of others.
Likewise, someone who has experienced a trauma, like witnessing a death, may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and their ability to control their reactivity may be hindered, as they cope with their trauma.
How to deal with mean people
Let’s face it, it’s not easy dealing with mean people. If given the choice, most of us would avoid the trouble. In instances where dealing with mean people is unavoidable, below are some helpful tips to make conflict resolution easier.
If you find yourself struggling, support is always available. At Betterhelp.com, therapists are affordable and available to meet your needs as well as your schedule. Whether you play a role in the problem or you would like to develop better coping skills for dealing with mean people, a therapist can help you achieve your goals.
Don’t take it to heart
In most instances, people are mean because they are dealing with something inside of themselves, it has nothing to do with the other person. The way they speak or act poorly to others, is the same way in which they speak and act poorly towards themselves. They may be mean to you, but they will always be meaner to themselves.
Don’t stoop to their level
This is a hard one, for us all. Michelle Obama may have said, “when they go low, we go higher,” but it takes a lot of self-restraint to be the bigger person. We are built with a primal instinct to defend ourselves. It is therefore challenging to resist the temptation to engage with a mean person and try to reason with them.
If someone is spewing their negativity, you can simply respond by saying, “I won’t tolerate being spoken to like this,” and walk away. You can also choose to ignore their behavior, thereby extinguishing the fire. It can be a helpful motivator to remember, that if you were to retaliate by being mean, you won’t feel good about it later.
Stand up for yourself
Bullies usually stop bullying when their victim no longer tolerates their behavior. If you really want a mean person in your life to stop treating you poorly, tell them you will no longer stand for their behavior. No need to have an in-depth conversation about it, which could lead to them giving you a lot of excuses, simply communicate “no more,” and mean it.
The best way to deal with a mean person is to not deal with them. In other words, if you can cut them out of your life, do so. It is not your job to put up with mean people or try to teach them how to behave properly. Chances are if they haven’t learned how to treat people properly by adulthood, your relationship with them won’t produce any change. Let them go, you deserve to be with people who treat you well.
No one enjoys dealing with mean people. As a therapist, I have seen too many clients keep mean people in their life because they felt obligated to, many of those people were family. If issues can not be resolved and people cannot learn to behave, cut them loose. Self-preservation is ok, you are allowed to put your happiness above others.