Understanding Bitter People

You've probably met certain people in your life who exhibited toxic behavior toward others, and you wondered why they were so bitter. However, what lies behind such bitterness and how can you better understand these kinds of people?
Understanding Bitter People

Last update: 06 March, 2022

Having to deal with bitter people can be uncomfortable and even intimidating. In fact, these are complex situations in which you often don’t know how to act. However, it’s not necessarily as difficult as you might think.

Like everyone, you have bad days when your attitude isn’t the best. Nevertheless, there are people who constantly live in this state, projecting bitterness all the time, even in the moments that they ‘should’ be happy. Let’s find out more about them.

“All our discontents about what we want appeared to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.”

Daniel Defoe-

What are bitter people like?

Undoubtedly, you’ve met some bitter people in your life. You’re probably not exactly the picture of sweetness and light yourself all of the time. However, do you really know what bitterness is? Let’s explain.

Bitterness is a fairly complex mixture of emotions, among which sadness and anger stand out. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that everyone, when they feel angry or sad, becomes bitter. It happens when they can’t manage their emotions assertively. Therefore, instead of releasing them, they hang on to them. Then, along the way, these emotions turn into feelings of resentment.

Man talking to a bitter woman

What generates bitterness?

Feelings of disappointment, betrayal, or injustice, or the failure of expectations to be met can lead to bitterness. This directly affects all areas of the individual’s life and has a negative impact on their interpersonal relationships.

These types of people often try and make others feel guilty. In fact, they try and find other people in their environment to blame for their own misfortunes.

Why are bitter people like this?

Understanding why a person is bitter can be quite a complex task. Indeed, there are various factors that influence bitterness. Furthermore, these people are often rather reserved and reluctant to open up to others.

Nevertheless, one thing they all have in common is the inadequate management of their emotions. In fact, bitterness is often a form that anger, disappointment, or sadness assumes.

Other causes

Suppressed and ignored anger can also be a major factor in the onset of bitterness. Furthermore, having lived through situations of injustice that remain unresolved can help feelings of bitterness arise.

As a matter of fact, bitter people remain anchored in events from their past in which they experienced emotions that made them feel bad. By not being skillful in managing this discomfort, they’ve become trapped in a state from which they’re unable to escape.

“No doubt you are right …there would be far less suffering amongst mankind if men … did not employ their imaginations so assiduously in recalling the memory of past sorrow, instead of bearing their present lot with equanimity.”

-Goethe-

Common attitudes and psychological characteristics of bitter people

Bitter people often show repetitive behaviors, such as:

  • Blaming others for everything that happens to them.
  • Believing in advance that everything they do is going to turn out extremely badly.
  • Constantly complaining about anything and everything.
  • Perceiving themselves as the victim in all situations.
  • Constantly talking about negative things and problems.
  • Distancing themselves from others. This means they’re generally extremely lonely.
  • Emotionally hurting others. Often, for no apparent reason.
  • Constantly arguing with their partners and relatives.
  • Exhibiting selfish behavior. In other words, they see their interests as far more important than those of others.
  • Creating hostile environments at home and work.
couple complaining

What can you do?

Having any kind of interaction with a bitter person is quite difficult and can also make you feel pretty uncomfortable. However, it’s important to keep in mind that bitter people aren’t usually permanently in that state. Here are some tips for dealing with them.

  • There are specific moments when their bitterness will be much worse. In those moments, it’s best to avoid them.
  • Understand that bitter people don’t only have issues with you, it’s their way of relating. Therefore, don’t take it personally.
  • Try and be empathetic. Understandably, it’s difficult dealing with someone bitter but try to see beyond their negative attitudes. Understanding is key to knowing that they’re not doing it because they’re a bad person.
  • Don’t let them use passive-aggressive behaviors with you. This is one of the most common qualities of bitter people and it’s important that you put a stop to it in order to avoid problems.
  • Always speak with understanding, but be firm. Set boundaries on their attitudes toward you, but with an open mind. In fact, try and understand why they act the way they do.

These kinds of people can make you feel extremely uncomfortable. For this reason, you may be tempted to stay away from them completely.

However, in this article, you’ve learned some strategies you can use if you feel like you want to try and improve their mood.

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