No one is spared from mean behavior , and if it happens often, it can be hard to deal with. When you’re in a situation that causes you to think, “Why is everyone so mean to me?” it’s likely that things have come to a point where it’s gone too far.
It happens to people of all ages : the same kind of people are to blame when an adult is mistreated at work or when a ten year-old is bullied at school. It can get really bad online – hiding behind anonymity and memes allows people to attack others in public forums , but it gets really bad in private messages where no one can see .
Why does it happen? What makes people act in a way that hurts others? Is it your fault or is it theirs? All these questions have answers that aren’t hard to understand, but it might be hard to find compassion for the people who are mean and hurtful.
Why Is Everyone So Mean To Me?
There can be only two answers to this problem: it’s either you, or other people. You can tell which one it is by giving the following question some thought: is it really everyone, or are you exaggerating?
Every time you think, “Why is everyone so mean to me?” be honest with yourself. If it’s everyone, then you should consider the possibility that you’re the reason why people don’t like you . If it’s not everyone, but in fact a few mean people you encounter, then they are to blame.
There’s a quote that says, “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” (Raylan Givens, Justified ) This line describes this point perfectly.
If all of your interactions with other people lead to them being mean to you, there’s something about you that rubs them the wrong way. If it’s an occasional rude or mean person, then they have a problem.
To get to the bottom of it and figure out why people are mean, both possibilities should be explored.
People are mean to you because of their own issues
It’s far more likely that not every single person is mean to you, but that you simply run into rude and hurtful people so often that it seems they’re everywhere.
Imagine a day like this: first someone bumps into you on the street and proceeds to yell at you while you’re on your way to work. Later, your boss snaps at you when you ask them about a project deadline. To top it off, your friend ignores you when you text them to ask them to go out while you’re getting ready to leave work.
With such encounters it’s easy to forget all the kind things that happened that day: the neighbor who greeted you with a smile, the co-worker who helped you out, the family member who called to ask how you are. So the next time you think, “Everyone is so mean to me,” take a moment to remember the other side of the story.
Those people who are mean, however, are mean for reasons entirely unrelated to you. People are mean because of their own issues. It’s insecurities and unhappiness that make people act rude, mean and unkind.
1. They have low self-esteem
Low self-esteem makes a person doubt their worth , and their unhappiness needs to be expressed somehow. Sometimes it manifests as false self-confidence that’s fragile and ready to shatter at any time.
A person with low self-esteem doesn’t see anything good in themselves, and they’ve convinced themselves that they are unworthy of love. Because they feel unlovable, they feel like they should be disliked.
They’re afraid you won’t like them as they are anyway, so by being mean they give you something that’s easy to dislike – the mean version of themselves that deserves hate. As mean as they are to you, they’re meaner to themselves.
2. They’re plagued by insecurities
A common reason for being mean is when a person is facing something that they’re insecure about. Interactions between people are often influenced by the fact that someone often has the upper hand , no matter how hard it might be to acknowledge.
When someone who’s feeling like you’re above them in some way is mean to you, they’re trying to protect themselves. Because they’re feeling powerless and insecure about their self-worth, they’re trying to put you down before you get the chance to put them down.
3. They’re feeling inadequate
Some people who don’t like themselves can spiral into self-loathing and have trouble in social interactions because they feel like they don’t have anything to offer. They believe others might think they’re boring and annoying, so they overcompensate by being mean.
Anxiety about social interactions leads them to put other people down. By doing that, they pull them down to their own level.
4. Their upbringing has influenced them
A lot of people have grown up in unhealthy environments and never learned how to act when they’re having negative emotions . If they were taught that it’s acceptable to take out your feelings on others, they might lack self-awareness and never even consider examining their behavior.
5. They’ve suffered abuse
People who have suffered abusive behavior often perpetuate what they’ve experienced unless their feelings are dealt with. This, or anything else on this list, isn’t an excuse for behaving in a hurtful way to others, but it can give you a glimpse into why some people find it hard to relate to others in a healthy and productive way.
6. They’ve been hurt
People are often mean to cope with their feelings. Maybe you remind them of their pain, or you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, but their lashing out has nothing to do with you. It’s a coping mechanism to deal with emotional pain and handle damage that you don’t see.
7. Their anger feels good
Some people convince themselves that they’re right even when they aren’t and shift blame on others . If they decide that you’re the villain, they get a feeling of superiority when they’re mean to you – if you’re awful, then they must be the good guy.
The first time they act like that, they realize that they like the feeling, so they keep doing it. Because they enjoy being mean, they refuse to let go of their anger and think about how they’re affecting the other person.
8. They lack communication skills
Being mean can show a lack of communication and social skills . Someone who becomes angry and mean the moment they disagree with you has probably picked up this way of communicating growing up.
Have you ever talked to someone who starts talking over you in a voice louder than yours instead of waiting for you to finish? This is another behavior that shows a lack of communication skills.
Being angry by default when talking to others is especially easy to spot on social media. It’s often found among people who’ll disagree with you just for the sake of it.
9. They’re going through something
You don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life at the moment. They could be having a bad day or personal problems occupying their thoughts. They could be hungry or sleepy or worried, and too preoccupied with their own life to have any patience for others. Bad mood caused by stress affects everyone, but not everyone knows how to deal with it.
10. They’re emotionally immature
Someone who’s emotionally immature doesn’t have the ability to cope with their feelings, which can often result in acting out and trying to drag you down to their level. If you cross their path, they’ll try to make you unhappy because they’re unhappy. This will resort to name-calling, yelling and attacking you to express their negative feelings.
11. They’re feeling entitled
Entitled people think you owe them something. It can be your time, attention or anything else, but they can become enraged when they don’t get what they believe they deserve.
This is the kind of rude people who imagine scenarios about how a situation should go, and when you don’t act in accordance with their imagination, they react to you behaving in a way they didn’t expect with anger.
These are toxic people who don’t even realize they are the problem and they’ll blame you for ruining their day, even when you had nothing to do with it.
12. They’re trying to make themselves feel better
When someone is deeply unhappy and frustrated, they try to seek validation by dragging other people to their level. Misery loves company, so they want you to feel as bad about yourself as they do.
The things they don’t like most about you are the things they don’t like most about themselves, and therefore they’ll throw every ounce of hatred and vitriol that they believe they deserve at you.
13. They have mental health issues
Depression isn’t just sadness, it’s a lack of will and it’s often accompanied by irritability and short temper. Lack of patience for people around them and anxiety make it easy to lash out. Other mental health issues can also contribute to someone’s rude and mean behavior , such as certain personality disorders.
14. They’re taking it out on you
Often people who are angry at someone or something else will resort to misplaced anger to deal with unresolved issues. You might be the twentieth person who annoyed them today, and it was their last straw. It happens more than you think – someone made them mad, now they’re making you pay for the other person’s behavior.
15. They dislike you for a reason
Sometimes people are mean because they’re angry at you specifically. You don’t have to have done anything in particular – people can sometimes be holding a grudge against you for the way they perceive you in relation to themselves.
For example, they might hate you because they disagree with you on some values or they envy you because you have something they don’t.
You might be complaining about lack of free time because you’ve made too many plans, and they’ll resent you because they’re lonely and bored.
People are mean to you because of your behavior
If most people you come in touch with are rude or mean to you, chances are that you’re probably not as nice as you think. Everyone has their own point of view, and we can sometimes judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves.
Most of the time we value our own actions by their intent, and the others’ by their results. For example, if you accidentally spill coffee on someone, you’ll insist that it wasn’t on purpose if they get mad. If someone else spills coffee on you, you’ll be all sticky and angry and won’t care that they did it by accident.
This is how we justify things that we did but didn’t mean to do, while we still blame other people if they do the same thing. When you hold people to standards that you don’t apply to yourself, it can become easy to see yourself as a victim who is under attack by everyone.
1. You’re rude to people
Examine everything from the previous section closely to see if anything applies to you. Are you the one who’s mean in the first place for some reason? Do you have unresolved anger issues?
If you don’t like yourself, if your life is stressful or you don’t know how to cope, you might be dealing with it by being rude to people , which causes them to be rude and mean to you as well.
If you’re nice and everyone is mean to you, people might be thinking that your niceness is fake. Overly nice people can seem like they have an agenda and are trying to gain something by their niceness, so people might feel like you’re dishonest.
Make sure that you’re not nice because you’re trying to be liked. People can feel the lack of sincerity, and if you’re nice because you expect niceness back, you won’t get it. Instead of being nice, be kind.
3. You’re negative
Asking the question “Why is everyone so mean to me?” in the first place can mean that you’re a person who looks at everything in a negative way.
If you’re seeing mean behavior and bad things everywhere, you should try examining why it is so. If you’re pessimistic and can’t seem to find anything good around you, you might be feeling depressed or sad for some reason.
Try to slowly change the way you look at life, and if necessary, get help from a professional.
4. You’re selfish
If you’re selfish and focused only on yourself, it’s hard to notice how other people feel. If you tend to blame others for your problems, this might be the case.
If you’re making everything about you, and judging others, their mean behavior might be a reaction to the way you treat them. Some signs you might be selfish are if you judge others for things you feel you have the right to do and pursue your own wants and needs at the expense of others.
Start dealing with this by focusing on others a little more instead of always needing to be the center of attention.
5. You’re bossy
If you always have to have the last word and always have to be right, people might find you bossy. If you get upset when things don’t go your way, people might think you’re controlling and not do the things you want on purpose.
Being someone who criticizes, nags and tries to control other people might make them react with rudeness or not want to be around you.
What do I do when people are being mean to me?
When people are mean to you, don’t take things personally. You can react in kind and cause an argument, but you won’t gain anything from it. Or you can get sad, but they’re not worth it.
The best thing to do when people are rude and mean to you, is to fully understand that people’s reactions to you are their problem.
1. Focus on the issue at hand, instead of the rude behavior
Don’t expect people to be nice. If they turn out to be nice, that’s great. If they don’t, it’s not your problem.
When you’re in a situation where you’re forced to deal with someone who’s being mean, try to ignore their behavior until you don’t have to interact with them and then simply focus on the reason you’re there.
For example, if you need a co-worker who’s being rude to give you a file, don’t react to their rudeness, but every time they say something mean, only talk about the file you need. Don’t give them the validation they’re looking for – only deal with them for the reason you have to.
2. Don’t pay them back in kind, be kind
Another way to react to people being mean is to be kind to them. Of course, you don’t have to be kind to someone who’s rude to you, but the results might surprise you.
If it’s someone who’s mean because they’re not feeling good about themselves, your kindness can completely change their day around and make them reconsider the way they’re treating you.
If it’s someone who’s mean because they feel like they have the right to be mean, they’ll get confused and potentially even more angry. If you persist in your kindness and completely ignore that they’re being rude, you’ll end up much less upset.
3. Walk away
Sometimes it’s best to simply leave the situation. If you don’t have to deal with the person who’s being mean, don’t engage them at all. Just turn around and leave and don’t give them a time of day. Sometimes it’s really not worth it.
4. Set boundaries
When someone is routinely rude to you, you need to be firm and set boundaries . Let them know their behavior isn’t acceptable and tell them that you refuse to deal with it. If they cross your boundaries after you’ve let them know, don’t allow them to get away with it. Be clear and decisive.
5. Speak up
Sometimes you have to speak up and call out someone’s rudeness . Deciding when to do it and when to walk away is difficult, but keep in mind that you have to pick your battles.
If you see that speaking up only leads to more conflict, it’s better to remove yourself from the situation. When you think that you’re able to reach the other person, then you should speak up.
Why Is It So Easy To Be Mean To Others?
Being unhappy with something in their lives makes people look for any way to express their dissatisfaction. Getting entangled in your feelings can be very easy, and you start looking at other people as your enemies.
When you’re feeling like you’ve been treated unfairly for something minor and you react with what seems to be justified anger, you feel a sense of superiority because the other person is clearly awful and you’re the one who’s right.
In this way it’s easy for your feelings of righteousness to lead you into being mean, and to feel satisfaction when you give someone what you believe they deserve. Have you ever gossiped about someone and happily listed every bad thing about them, pleased that they’re so terrible and you’re not?
The way people treat others is related to how they feel about themselves. Becoming someone who isn’t mean starts with compassion – for others, but also for yourself. If you’ve been unkind, start by being kinder to yourself.
• Forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
• Face your fears and your flaws that make you mad when you recognize them in others.
• Don’t criticize yourself and don’t judge yourself.
• See your own anger at yourself and recognize you’re not a bad person.
• Acknowledge that some of the things that are important to you, might hold no value in someone else’s life.
• On the other hand, just because you’re not even thinking about something, doesn’t mean it’s not an issue for someone else.
To stop being mean, it’s important to consider other people’s lives and their own perspectives, which might be completely different from yours. Choose to heal and decide to be kind instead of mean. First to yourself, and then to other people.
Being mean is an easy way to cope with things that aren’t going well in someone’s life. Not everyone deals in that way, so the question, “Why is everyone so mean to me?” is something that needs some thought.
Be honest with yourself about whether it’s always the other person’s fault, or if you’re sometimes to blame for what your relationship is like. Be aware that most people are mean because they’re really mean to themselves, and decide what’s the best way for you personally to deal with it.