When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself; the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly proportional to the amount we feel within us.
- Sidney J. Harris
Few life lessons warrant as much attention as this. People who are miserable with others are miserable about themselves.
Being the well-balanced happy individual you are, you likely just ignore grumpy, miserable or anger-filled people, believing—correctly—that they should hold no place of importance in your life.
Try to put yourself into the position of the many people who feel hurt when someone snubs them, insults them, steals from them, commits a personal offence such as assault or rape against them or acts just plain mean toward them. These people really care that someone has taken the trouble to be so hurtful.
What they may not understand is why. People who are miserable with others act that way because they are miserable within themselves. They don’t like themselves. They don’t like their own lives and they see no reason why others should like theirs. Of course they won’t admit it to you or anyone. They’re not stupid.
True, there are professional curmudgeons. Many get paid to be outrageously insulting and offensive on radio or television. Actors and book writers who write about controversial subjects have an obligation to be miserable sometimes because the public expects it of them. Some act the role, but many really are miserable within themselves.
Why should we care about them?
For many of us, we learned from our mothers that it is important that others like us. When someone doesn’t, we feel that we failed somehow. When my grandmother taught me that lesson, she neglected to mention that some people are not worth the effort it takes to be on their good side.
Some don’t even have a good side. Unless they are drunk or on marijuana. It seems as if most of the miserable people mellow out when they drink alcohol.
It would be important for me to impart to you a few tips as to what you could do to make these miserable people happy or at least less volatile, insulting or offensive. However, that would be impossible. Those who become entrenched in their misery will only come out of it after a life-altering experience (such as near-death), and most don’t even then.
A few psychologists know the methods for conducting intensive reprogramming sessions with such people, but this is expensive and miserable people rarely want to cooperate anyway.
For many of them, the longer they are miserable with the world, the more comfortable they become with it. They get used to it, they depend on it. It’s what they know. In a sense, expressing their misery to others in vituperative ways is their way of retreating to a corner to lick their wounds the life has inflicted on them.
It’s a call for help, but only by a few. Most will actively refuse help, even decline overt acts of friendship. Misery becomes their opiate, no matter how counterintuitive that may seem. Call it a sign that help is needed but mostly not wanted.
When these people appear on your horizon, you would be best advised to change course to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, be cool to them because warmth means that you are open to attack, that you are vulnerable, an easy target.
It’s said that misery loves company. It’s a strange kind of relationship and it shouldn’t be called true friendship, but it happens.
Miserable people are often socially immature or maldeveloped. Long ago they found that making friends was difficult, even impossible. Experiencing examples where their trust of someone was betrayed deepened their distrust of others. They never learned how to make a friend because they were never taught the skills.
Maybe all they have left that comforts them is their misery, toward themselves and others.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make sense of a complex world.
Learn more at http://billallin.com