4 Characteristics of a Debbie Downer

Are You A Negative Nancy?

This is one of my favorite topics, so I’ll just get right to the point – how to recognize if you are a Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy, or basically just an unhappy person. We all know someone who just seems perpetually unhappy or unsatisfied with anything and everything going on in their world.

Let me clarify to say that everyone has bad days. We can all be Debbie Downer some days. We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But that’s an occasional happening for most of us. For some people, it doesn’t matter – day in and day out they’re unhappy. And it saddens me when I say that, but those are the type of people this post is geared towards.

Now, I don’t know what’s going on in their world, and neither do you. But I can say that from being a coach and coaching clients, it is not uncommon for a few characteristics to pop up that seem to be consistently evident in an unhappy person’s life.

See if you can fit into any of these, because I know I can occasionally. If you feel that you’re perpetually in one or all of them, make sure you read all the way to the end, because I’m going to offer some reading suggestions to get you out of the slump.

What Makes A Debbie Downer?

Here are 4 characteristics of a Debbie Downer:

1. They quite often wrestle with self-worth. They are their own worst critic. I actually blogged about this in my weekend must-reads post.

We need to learn how to walk with ourselves as a friend and not as a critic. People who are perpetually negative have not learned to love themselves; they quite often rely on others to fill their love bucket instead of filling it themselves first.

We must remember that people are always going to let us down; it’s just a fact of life. It doesn’t matter how close you are to them, you will be let down occasionally. But love and respect are not going to come from others until we love and respect ourselves. People who tend to be on the negative side don’t have that self-worth or self-love.

2. A perpetually unhappy person might hate change. They don’t like change for themselves, and they certainly don’t like seeing other people change either. It makes them feel bad when someone else changes and they’re not ready to change yet.

I fit into this category every once in a while. To be perfectly honest, I hate watching my kids go to the next season in their lives. If I had my way, they’d still be in onesies playing on the floor with tinker toys. But I had to accept the fact that as they grow up, I grow up.

Someone who is perpetually unhappy will refuse to think outside the box. They think they’re happy within their own little bubble, but they’re not. They like that comfort zone, and when they see you outside of yours, they get a little jealous. They’re seeing you forge your own path while they’re stuck. Do you see how that comes out as negativity?

3. People who are perpetually negative don’t want to do any introspection. What does that word mean? Well, when you inspect something you’re looking at all sides of it, as well as the inside. That’s what introspection is, but in relation to a person. It’s so important to do on a regular basis because we’re always changing. We’re not meant to be the same, and as we change, we must ask ourselves some questions.

Negative people avoid introspection – why? Because it makes them feel. They’d rather be numb to things than pay attention to things that make them feel. I work with clients often on this. I encourage them to dig a little. Why are you feeling that way? Where does it come from?

Negative people would rather just ignore it and stay busy instead of being present. They don’t like questions like, what would you like to accomplish in the next few years? By the end of your life? What are your dreams? Why are they your dreams? What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of that? What gets you excited and why?

They don’t want to experience those questions; they’d rather be numb and not learn about themselves.

4. If I’m not careful I fit into this category occasionally. Negative people do not keep their eyes in their own lane. They compare themselves to others often. They’re looking right and left instead of keeping their blinders on and knowing that they’re uniquely made, one of a kind, and for a purpose just for them. They would rather look both ways to see how they come up short.

The truth of the matter is that we will never know where that other person started. We don’t know their background and back story, so we can’t compare ourselves. Comparing yourself is a lose-lose situation. No one wins. There will always be someone smarter, prettier (whatever that means), taller, more successful – there will always be someone a little ahead of us. And that’s ok! We aren’t meant to be walking this life at the same pace as everyone else.

Become A Student of Yourself

Let’s back up now and learn something from these. I have found that when I become a student of myself – sort of on the introspection characteristic – and commit to learning about bettering myself, I see immense change.

This is something I’ve been doing for the last year or so, and it’s been so great for me. I commit every day to taking at least 15 minutes and listening to a podcast or reading a book or a blog that helps me grow personally. It challenges me to rethink the way I’ve thought about myself or the outside world. I become a student of myself. What does a student do? A student studies, investigates, and tests themselves. And boy, what a change I’ve seen!

Here are a few books I want to suggest to someone who may find herself in these categories of a Debbie Downer.

Me Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild

Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Brazen by Leeana Tankersley

I Know I’m In There Somewhere by Helene Brenner

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Perfect Imperfection

The bottom line here is, we are all imperfectly perfect. I’d encourage you to think about these characteristics and think about whether or not you’re perpetually unhappy or negative. Do some introspection, read some of the books I suggested, and dig yourself out of the hole.

If you got any value out of this please share it. I love paying it forward, so please share to someone in your life who might need a little positivity.


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