Saturday Night Live has a funny sketch called Debbie Downer, a woman who kills the fun in any situation by bringing up bad news or depressing information. While comedically, Debbie Downer is fun to watch, nobody wants to be around a negative person for too long.
Easily Criticize Others
Downers see the negative in others in such a way that nothing is good at all. Downers doubt, criticize, blame, and disparage everyone around them. When something goes wrong or doesn’t work out as planned, the blame is placed upon the flaws and personality defects of others as to protect their own egos from criticism and responsibility.
“How can we be wrong when everyone else is to blame for the way the world is or for the way something has worked out?” a Downer will ask. There is a big difference between bringing attention to the behaviors that don’t serve someone and choosing to tear them down for who they are.
Turn It Around
It’s important to take a good look at ourselves before we start criticizing others. We all have our demons, roadblocks and challenges and it’s important to remember that before approaching others for their lacks or mistakes. Carefully consider the question, “Is what I am about to say going to help this person grow and improve their situation or am I saying this to defend myself, make myself look or feel better?”
Admits Faults, But Ignores or Avoids Self-improvement
This is a highly common trait in Debbie Downers. They casually admit that their behavior or attitudes don’t serve them and their relationships, but choose to opt for an excuse rather than make the effort to improve, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of unhappiness.
I’ve often heard, “My life is a mess. I know I’ve been slacking around the house/office. I just need structure or someone to tell me what to do. Guess that’s just the way I am.” And lo and behold, nobody tells them what to do and they don’t create structure in their lives and the Debbie Downer has accomplished nothing to improve their situation. What their behavior does is give them more fodder for negative conversation which ends up getting old to other people who actively make the decision to improve themselves.
Turn It Around
We have two choices: Keep our problems and complaints to ourselves OR actually get around to making positive changes. Nobody who loves you wants to hear how you’ve succumbed to your own laziness. Only those who don’t care about you want to hear how bad you’re doing to make themselves feel better – and perhaps give them conversation for gossip when you’re not around.
If we decide to take the leap and fight our demons, then we must remained dedicated to ongoing progress and positive language, despite how difficult that progress might be. “I will admit that I’ve been faced with some steep challenges, but I’m making progress slowly and surely.” This dialogue is honest, yet positive.