Bitter people are everywhere. They are in your family, they are your friends, they are the strangers you have to deal with each day, and they are the random people who try to make you feel bad through social media or other means. When you get excited about life, they try to shoot you down to their level. When you are around them, they try to bring you down to their level. They are all about being miserable and making other people miserable.
The reality is that if you surround yourself with bitter people, you will become bitter yourself. Your attitude about life will shift, and it will affect your life, your other relationships, your career, and everything else. You need to figure out a way on how to deal with bitter people for your own sanity.
How NOT To Deal With Bitter People
The first thing to understand is that you can’t please them, no matter what you say or do. That’s because it isn’t you that is making them bitter – it’s their own thoughts and perceptions about life. They are telling themselves a very negative story; one where they are living an unfair life that, they think, has made them who they are. Really, it’s their thoughts and perceptions towards what has happened in their life that has made them who they are, but they don’t want to hear that.
The point is that doing everything you can to make them happy will never work. It will only drain your energy and make you miserable. In my opinion, it is a complete waste of your time. Moreover, it will make you hate them, and you shouldn’t hate anyone in your life. It doesn’t benefit your life in any way. So, if you are doing it – stop! Following are some better ways to deal with bitter people in your life.
4 Choices On How To Deal With Bitter People
Following are some different choices for how to deal with bitter people. Some may work for one and not for another; however, if it is someone you care about, I strongly recommend choice number four!
Choice 1: Get Some Space
If you are dealing with a bitter family member that lives with you, move out or stop coming out of your room so much. If you are dealing with a bitter friend who you spend 7 days a week with, cut down that time. The longer you stay in their whirlwind of negativity, the more you will get sucked into it and have to deal with it. That’s draining on you and it affects your ability to live the life you want.
If you are dealing with bitter strangers, then just distance yourself from them however you can. Don’t read their comments or stand there and listen to them. Move away from them when they try to interact with you negatively. Put as much space between you and them as possible so that you can focus on other things that actually matter.
Choice 2: Don’t Interact With Them When They Are Being Bitter
If you can’t get space from them, then choose not to interact with them when they are being negative. For the most part, showing them that you are not someone who wants to take any time out of their day interacting with negativity will teach them that they can’t get a rise out of you, so they won’t bother with you. They will look for someone else who they can get some sort of reaction from.
However, they may still try to keep the negative interaction going. They may do everything they can to get into your face and make you see how upset they are and how unfair life has been. If that’s the case, then you need to either find a way to get space from them more permanently (if you want to, you will find a way), or you need to use one of the other tips that has nothing to do with them and everything to do with how you approach their bitterness.
And if you absolutely can’t get away from them, then you need to confront them on how they treat you. Bitter people are often hateful, cruel, hard to deal with, and vindictive. If you call them on these traits and make them look in the mirror when it comes to how they treat you, they may reconsider how they act around you.
Choice 3: Accept Their Bitterness
While space is better for your sanity, acceptance is the next best thing. When you can accept that some people, even the people that you love, are bitter and may never change, then you can deal with them better. However, most people can’t do this. Maybe with strangers, but with loved ones it becomes sad to watch them waste their lives away being bitter. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You can’t stop it, and your heart breaks a little at each twist, turn, and dent.
Choice 4: Give Them Insight Into Their Bitterness
You can’t change them directly, but you can lead by example! If you could set up an appointment with a therapist, they would be able to help them see where their bitterness is coming from and what they can do about it. But, it’s going to be hard to convince someone that they need to see a therapist, not to mention offensive to them, which may cause them to resent you and hurt your relationship. So, you have to find a way to show them why their way of thinking is off.
It’s important to do what you can. Being bitter can have a very negative impact on their health and quality of life. So, if you can help them improve their life, you might as well try.
The best you can do is give them some insight, which will require you to face their bitterness head on. If you give them some insight into why they are bitter, and why it is really just a choice they are making, then they may start to see things differently.
So why did they become so bitter? Following are 5 reasons and what you can do to help.
1. They Don’t Feel Like They Have Control Over Their Life
We all want to feel like we have control. If we don’t, we feel out of sorts and a little bit crazy. People who are bitter, have had failures and disappointments – just like the rest of us, but they don’t feel like they had any control over the situation or what happened afterward. They feel like things are happening to them in life, and they don’t take ownership for how they move through life. You will find these people blaming other people and even God for their problems.
Let them know that they are accountable for their lives. Lead by example and take ownership of your life. Accept that the failures happened and then find a way to make things better, and show them that you have a choice in how your life turns out – always.
2. They Are Ticked Off That Others Held Them Back
We’ve all had this happen to us, but the people who can’t accept it end up becoming bitter.
– Some of them had their parents hold them back from going after a dream.
– Some of them had their lying or cheating spouse hold them back from enjoying their younger years.
– Some of them had someone deny them a job or an opportunity.
– Some people have even become bitter because someone cut in front of them in line and held them back from getting somewhere in time.
The list goes on and on and on, but they are stuck blaming other people for holding them back from the opportunities they were trying to reach.
Let them know that things always happen for a reason. If they were denied a job, then that’s because they were meant to get a better one. If they were not allowed to go after their dream, then they may have had to learn more about self-confidence and taking ownership of their own life (again, they need to know they are accountable for their own life!) Then, lead by example and show them that even though you may regret not doing things when you could’ve done them, you won’t waste any time not going after what you want in life. Moreover, show them that even if you fail, you are willing to try again when it comes to something that you want badly.
3. They Are Sick
Bitterness can cause sickness, but sickness can also cause bitterness. Maybe they have a chronic disease, such as Lupus, and have become bitter that they were chosen to have to live with the disease, forced to leave work, or forced to give up on things that they once loved. It is kind of understandable that some people would become bitter in that situation!
Or, maybe they are so sick that they can’t think straight. Even constant colds can take their toll on a person. If you are always feeling down, then it can be hard not to blame your sickness for the life you’ve had. Also, people who are sick are unhappy, so negative emotions such as bitterness naturally mesh with their unhappiness.
You can’t know how they feel unless you are in their shoes. It’s easy to say ‘cheer up!’ when someone is feeling down, but if you were sick, it might be a lot harder to do. Yet, we all still have a choice, even when we are sick, to be happy, do what we can for our lives, and choose positive thoughts and views to help us manage.
Make a point of showcasing people who have gotten sick or injured, but still stayed strong. Christopher Reeve is a good example. After he became paralyzed, he did what he could to make his life count and help other people make their lives count in many different ways. He wasn’t bitter towards the horse or the unfairness of life, he just went on with his life.
Note: Sometimes people may not know they are sick. They may just feel unwell or moody, which could indicate that something is wrong. Even if they have been experiencing symptoms for decades, they should get checked out. Being moody, in pain, and tired are not normal for someone who is not sick. Sometimes something as simple as a hormonal imbalance can cause the bitterness.
4. They Haven’t Let Go Of A Past Relationship
So many people are bitter because they can’t let go of a past relationship. They can’t let go of someone who has done them wrong or hurt them or used them in some way. They hold on to the pain and stay bitter as they think about how that person mistreated them. This may be an ex-friend, ex-lover, family member, or even just a stranger who hurt them in some way.
Forgiveness is the key here. Letting them know how important forgiveness is to life is imperative. This is especially true if the person has died and they have no way of talking to them or working through their emotions, or if the person was an ex-lover who has now moved on with their lives and would not be willing to talk things through. However, if they can still contact the person, it may be worth arranging a meeting so they can talk things through and find a way to let go.
Again, you can lead by example. Carry the attitude that all your past relationships helped you become who you are today, and that you don’t hold on to bad feelings towards anyone from your past for that reason.
5. They Feel It’s Too Late
If you don’t deal with disappointments correctly, then the more disappointments you have, the more bitter you are going to become. You may be able to move past a few here and there, but once you have a whole pile of failures, let downs, setbacks, and lost dreams, it can become easy to get the feeling that it’s too late to go after what you want and give up altogether. That’s when bitterness that life has passed you by sets in.
Show them that it’s never too late. At any age, new skills can be learned, new habits can be formed, and new goals can be made. There are so many great people who got their start later in life and so many people continuing to learn new things and get out there and do great things.
Turn on a movie with Michael Caine, who is 82 as of this article, and talk about how he is coming up in a few new movies and is still going strong. Or, of course, Betty White, who is 94 as of this article and is still busy in life according to her Twitter account!