Constant Complaining: Debbie Downer

All of us know someone who is never pleased. No matter how hard we try to make things pleasant, the individual can find some “problem” to dwell on and spoil our good time. It is as though they are  allergic to happiness.
Hypercritical individuals cannot be happy with material or social success. A happy event, such as a wedding or birthday is an ordeal for them. They see to it that their negativity is part of the public record:
 “Look at that, the tables are too close together. The waiters are going to have a hard time maneuvering through the crowd. The centerpieces are too tall and block the view of the guests. The flowers are already wilting; they should have changed the water.”
“You call this a party? When my Uncle Steve turned sixty he had fourteen-piece band, and an 8 course meal, an open bar with top shelf liquor, a magician, hotel rooms and limos for all the guests. Now, that’s a party.”
“How can we celebrate when there is so much poverty, starvation, violence and neglect in the world?”
We call this person ‘Debbie Downer’ or a ‘Negative Nelly’, as if such labels solved the problem. Labels do not shed any light on the subject. Labels only make the rest of the problem that much harder to trace.
These people are angry at life for not being better than it is. Until life is better than it is, they reserve the right to “complain about the service” at the top of their voice. They refuse to accept it as it is. They cannot and will not be happy with reality until it lives up to their fictitious expectations.
The consequences of these expectations is that one can never be happy. Furthermore, its not uncommon for these people to become angry at anyone who has the audacity to try to make them happy. Such efforts are doomed in advance to fail, and these individuals will hold everyone in contempt for trying.
The hypercritical individual feels threatened by happiness. True happiness would undermine the basis of his or her existence. It would prove to him or her that their attitudes and convictions about life are wrong. He or she would rather be miserable and confirm their mistaken expectations than accept they may have spent their lives holding mistaken perspectives. He or she is the prisoner of negativity.
These mistaken expectations are absurd; they are also tragic. They effectively prevent the sufferer and his or her loved ones from enjoying the happiness that they work so long and hard to get. It is equally absurd to “fight” these expectations without understanding the lifestyle that they serve and perpetuate.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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