Recently I have had too many encounters with individuals who are mean. When I was looking up the definition of mean in the dictionary it took quite a bit of scrolling to find the definition of mean that applied to this article. Your Dictionary was the winner! It defines mean as “lacking in kindness, unkind”.

It has been mostly at my job that the individuals I have encountered act in mean ways. They are rude, try to put me and others down, sharp with their words, will throw anyone under the bus even when they are in the wrong, and never apologize. Since my interactions with individuals outside of my job are sporadic I do not know if this is a rare moment or not for that person.

If you looked at the lives of the individuals I work with that are consistently mean, it seems that they “have it all”. Their relationships with their partners are happy and solid, their children are healthy, happy, doing well, they are in great shape financially, they are healthy, families are healthy.  For all of us we have all had moments when we were not at our best and said something that was rude, mean, wrong. For the individuals I am talking about today there is a consistent pattern of mean.

So where does this mean spirit come from? Mean has been an ongoing problem since the days of the Greeks thousands of years ago. Philosophers of that time talked about the mean spirit of some individuals. In an article by A Conscious Rethink they report that 79% of Americans think lack of respect is a serious problems and 60% of people feel rudeness is on the rise.

How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” ~Paulo Coelho

So what is going on with someone that they are mean?  People who are chronically mean have low self respect, low self esteem, jealous (which is low self esteem), insecure, competitive. There is research that states people are mean to others as a way to feel better about themselves. While other factors may play into someone being mean such as mental health, significant stressors, chronic or intense health issues,  the predominant reason is that they are not feeling so hot about who they are and treat people around them according to their own inner sense of self.

Crappy sense of self equals crappy treatment of others.

What I do know with every fiber of my being that someone who is treating me in a disrespectful, rude, mean way is NOT about me. I am NOT a perfect person. I am a kind, compassionate individual. I try every day to be the best I can be every day. I do have  control over how I interact, respond, and react to someone who is not using respect, kindness, and compassion when talking to me. I can go down to their level OR I can maintain my level of decency.  Being assertive in these exchanges is important because I have a right to stand for myself and when needed for others. Perhaps how I treat them will help them to see positive change is possible.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it beautifully “No one can make you feel inferior without YOUR consent.

Do I need to practice using these strategies when I am interacting with someone who is acting in a mean, rude, disrespectful manner towards me. Absolutely! If I am in a situation where safety is an issue such as driving or when someones behavior is unsettling and I am feeling unsafe, then I need to back off, stay out of their way, and let it go. The more I interact in a way with everyone that reflects the respect, love, compassion for myself, the more empowered and strong I feel about me.

Wonderful, smart, brave person take care of you. Keep in mind that someone else’s mean is not about you. Respond and react to others in a manner that reflects how you feel about you.  If you feel you are too often treating others in a mean spirit you can change. Get professional help, do kind, nice things for you. Work on feeling better about you. Imagine if everyone in this world felt solid and good about the person they are. What a world that would be.

Let’s get rid of the mean. Let’s be kind to ourselves. Let’s treat those being unkind to us with respect, assertiveness, kindness, compassion.

May your positive sense of self be with you💜

Photo by Dmitry Ulitin on Unsplash