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We’ve all, one way or another, come across someone often labeled as negative—at times, we might have even been this person.
What we might have missed is that negativity is a broad word, and that “someone” is a human being who might be simply suffering. Life is not an easy ride, and oftentimes, disappointments will lead to resentfulness and bitterness.
That being said, this does not mean that we cannot heal and get out of the vicious circle while practicing mindfulness. Nonetheless, when we are no longer the ones suffering from bitterness, it becomes even harder to deal with.
Sometimes, we are affected by the struggles of others at home, in a relationship, at the workplace, or even within a community. We cannot simply turn our backs and leave—what we can do is learn how to better deal with the other person by understanding where they’re coming from.
Thus, here are 10 signs that are by-products of someone who, whether they know it or not, has let their wounds fester and, consequently, turned into bitterness.
1. Often complaining
No matter how hard we try to show a bitter person that there are many things to be grateful for, they will end up focusing on the one thing they can complain about, whether it is their partner, their job, the food, or simply the weather—too hot, too cold, too perfect. Nagging the hell out of others is a skill a bitter person excels at.
2. Assuming things
It could be something trivial that we do out of habit, accidentally, or even with good intentions, yet a bitter person will find a way to assume the worst. I mean, how many times were we the recipient of, “You didn’t say it but you meant it?” We can never explain to a bitter person that had we meant it, we would have clearly said it.
3. Gossiping and even slandering
A bitter person’s favorite conversation never ceases to shock us. It is almost always about other people, a neighbor, a colleague, a family member, and even a “friend.” It is truly heartbreaking when we hear them talk about people who trusted them and who are supposed to be their friends. Naturally, we start to feel that, somehow, somewhere, we are the topic of their conversations, too.
4. Seeking attention
We all need a sort of validation, attention, and love from specific people. However, someone who’s bitter would do anything to be the center of attention anywhere and for everyone. No wonder they keep playing the victim, knowing that most people will sympathize with someone who has been treated so unfairly. Whether consciously or unconsciously, these people would stop at nothing to be the center of attention.
5. Unable to be happy for others
We all know that feeling when a friend or a family member achieves something that makes us cry tears of joy. I cry at weddings, at graduations, at promotions, when a fictional character succeeds after struggling, and even when watching shows like “American Idol.” Unfortunately, bitterness doesn’t allow a person to celebrate others’ successes because to them, it is unfair for others to win when all they’ve known is failure.
6. Unable to celebrate the small wins
Do not think for a second that someone who is unable to be happy for others can be happy for themselves. Acknowledging the small milestones is as important and as satisfying as celebrating the big wins. However, bitter people always end up having a pity party because it wasn’t the achievement of the century.
7. Promising to change, yet refusing advice
When they feel they are losing their grip on someone, they go into panic mode and start making promises left and right. Sadly, those who refuse well-meant and constructive advice will never be able to grow and change, even when they want to.
8. Being angry with almost everyone
It is quite obvious that bitterness and anger go hand in hand. For instance, if I am a bitter woman and one man hurt me, all men instantly become bad; hence, I become angry at more than three billion people due to their gender. It doesn’t make sense, but to a bitter person, it is perfectly sensible.
9. Unable to appreciate what others do for them
We could bring them the moon, and yet they’d be like “Meh! It could have been the Sun.” Nothing impresses them, nothing satisfies them, and nothing will until they are healed.
10. Blaming others for their failures and holding grudges
Only a resentful person would never have accountability for their actions but can hold a grudge for billions of years. They are never responsible for anything that went wrong; it is always someone else’s fault.
Being more compassionate and understanding does not mean we let others mess with our peace.
Hence, there are three simple ways that will help us to protect our energy, our mental health, and our “sweet” soul from bitterness.
1. Setting healthy and clear boundaries
As mentioned earlier, we cannot always block a bitter person out of our lives, especially when we truly love and care for them. However, we can always set boundaries, by knowing how much space, time, and most importantly, energy we give them in our lives. We can always determine the depth and strength of a bond by setting the right boundaries.
2. Never ever opening up to them
We often open up to people we love without taking into consideration that love and trust are not one and the same. Therefore, the only way to avoid being slandered by a bitter person is to keep the conversation shallow. Not everyone, no matter how much we wanted them to be, deserves our transparency and innocence.
3. Avoiding going on their guilt trips
One thing we all learn when dealing with bitter people is that their perception is not a fact. Thus, we can never believe everything they tell us, knowing that it comes from a place of insecurity. We do not need to call shotgun each time they decide to take us on a guilt trip. On a side note, unless you enjoy listening to gossip and someone nagging, do not go on a road trip with them, either.
In a nutshell, each journey is different, and while a bitter person might heal one day, we cannot let them pull us down, or worse, become their go-to emotional punchbag.