How To Stop Being Mean: 6 Tips That Actually Work!

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Far too many people confuse meanness and hostility with strength. Being mean has nothing to do with being strong.

The problem is that mean people often find themselves locked into a perpetual cycle of negativity. As a result, happy, friendly people don’t spend their time on mean people unless they absolutely have to. Thus, rude and mean people often find themselves gathering together or all alone.

Other than being an a**hole, the problem is that this behavior self-perpetuates meanness. You generally become like the people around you. You’re going to act rude and mean to the people around you if the people around you are mostly rude and mean. Then you look around and tell yourself that such behavior is reasonable and acceptable because all of these other people act like a**holes.

In this article, we’re going to share some ways to be less mean, and to one day hopefully stop being mean altogether.

Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you get your mean, disrespectful behavior under control. Simply click here to connect with one via

But first, let’s look ask an important question.

Why are people mean?

Meanness can be rooted in different emotions, trauma, and mental illness. Here are some of the most common reasons why you are being mean:

  • Anger. The mean person may have built up anger that they don’t understand how to process, so it erupts in the act of lashing out at other people. They may not even realize that they are agitated and angry, particularly if their anger stems from an emotion like fear. Many people do not want to express that they are afraid for fear of being taken advantage of and being perceived as weak.
  • Trauma and mental illness. Both can cause a person to be mean because of how they function. For example, trauma may cause people to feel fearful, wary, angry, and defensive in a way that causes them to strike out to protect themselves.
  • Mental illness. Mental illness can seriously mess with the way your emotions and perceptions work, causing a person to be mean or engage in other negative social behaviors.
  • Low self-esteem and insecurity. Many people use anger as a defensive mechanism to keep other people from getting too close to them. A person may be mean to keep others away so that others don’t see who the mean person actually is. The mean person may be covering up insecurities and vulnerabilities or may not feel good about themselves.
  • Sadness. Not many people have tolerance for sadness. Even in society, we’re often told to suck it up and get back to work! Work is whatever it is you have to do. It may be employment, taking care of your family, or anything else you must do. It seems like few people have the emotional intelligence to understand that sometimes you just need to be sad for a little while. On the other hand, people make room for anger. Anger is heard because it’s loud and abrasive.
  • Anxiety and stress. Both may cause a person to be mean. Both cause agitation and reduce a person’s ability to deal with life’s stresses and those of other people. The more anxiety and stress a person feels, the less tolerance they have when difficult situations happen. The result is meanness.

Whatever the underlying reason for your rudeness and hostility, it’s not a healthy way to live. Meanness alienates people, causes additional stress, and messes up relationships.

How do you stop being mean?

The way to stop being mean is going to depend on why you’re mean in the first place. Still, these suggestions and tips may help you find ways to better understand why you feel the way that you do so you can make a change for the better.

1. Work on your self-esteem and self-worth.

A person who is mean because they feel insecure needs to work on improving their self-worth and seeing themselves as the valuable person that they are. Easier said than done, right? Right.

Still, it’s much easier to be kinder, more patient, and more understanding with others if you can extend the same grace to yourself. Once you start being kinder to yourself, you will find that your mind is less hostile to yourself and the people around you.

One way you can work on your self-esteem is to replace the negative thoughts you have about yourself with positive ones. The easiest way to do this is with mantras you can repeat when feeling bad. This will help to create a better habitual response to negative situations thoughts.

So, if you were to find yourself thinking, “I am worthless and unlovable.” You would instead force yourself to replace it with, “I am a valuable human being worthy of love.”

Of course, this appears to be one simple little thing, but it is far harder than it looks. After all, it’s hard to want to be kind to yourself while tearing yourself down. Still, if you want to not be mean anymore, it’s something you’re going to have to try to do.

2. Limit your time with rude, angry people.

There’s an old saying that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. So, if you spend time with positive, happy people, then you are more likely to be a positive, happy person. However, suppose you spend your time with angry, negative people. In that case, you will gravitate toward being an angry, negative person.

This isn’t some weird, esoteric phenomenon. It’s just the result of needing to act in a particular way to fit in socially. Try and be a nice, positive person immersed in a pool of angry, negative people and see how long that lasts. Negativity and anger are infectious.

You can’t always separate yourself from these negative, angry people. They might be relatives or people you must deal with at work. In that case, you can create some boundaries to limit your time interacting with these people. That may be spending less time with them, looking for a different job, or using the gray rock method of avoiding their attention.

3. Learn stress and anxiety management techniques.

Maybe your meanness stems from difficult times that you’re having in your life. You’re under all this stress and pressure, and it’s just coming out in unhealthy ways. Maybe work is a beast. You’re stressed out, so you’re being short and angry with family and friends.

In that case, to be less mean, you might try to develop better habits for managing stress and anxiety. One of the best ways is to start an exercise routine. Not only will regular exercise help you blow off that negative energy, but the act of exercise also creates mood-balancing chemicals and endorphins that will help alleviate your stress.

Meditation is also a scientifically validated way to reduce stress and anxiety. People often question the value of meditation, but it’s not some magical, mystical thing. Meditation is mostly centered around creating stillness in your mind so you can break the cycle of noise and agitation that we’re often subjected to because of life.

4. Consider how your actions would make you feel.

An easy way to try to put yourself in the shoes of another person is to consider how your actions would make you feel if done unto you. What if this person you care about acted toward you the way that you’re acting toward them? Would you be okay with it? Would it make you feel good about yourself and the relationship? Or do you feel it would be destructive and tear down the relationship?

You can identify these behaviors by examining the times you’ve argued or when the people in your life were angry or sad. What circumstances led to it? What was your responsibility? What did you do or say that helped create that situation? Furthermore, what can you do better next time?

If you’re a person who is prone to anger, you may find that just knowing when to step back from the discussion until you’re less angry is enough. Arguments don’t necessarily have to be angry or rude affairs. Sure, you may get angry. Your anger may be totally valid and justified. But if you want to discuss those problems healthily, you may have to put a hold on it, take 20 minutes to calm down, then come back to the discussion.

Do you toss out insults because you have a rough sense of humor, and that’s how you bond? Well, understand that not everyone is wired that way. Sure, banter and messing around with people with a similar sense of humor is fun, but not everyone will appreciate it. Some people find it incredibly rude. Knowing your audience can help you stop coming across as mean when you’re not intending to.

5. Do not let other people dictate your behavior.

Many people are rude or angry because others fire rudeness and anger at them. Yes, being angry when someone treats you badly is perfectly reasonable. However, you are still the ultimate decider of how you want to respond to the negative situations and people you will experience in your life. You can choose not to respond to rudeness and anger with more rudeness and anger.

That seems entirely counterintuitive. You need to stand up for yourself, right? It depends on what you mean by standing up for yourself. Do you think standing up for yourself means engaging in an argument with that person or firing back with equal hostility and force? Or do you think standing up for yourself means having good boundaries and stepping away from the conversation if you can? And still, there are more options.

One of the quickest ways to easily deflate someone’s hostility because they are sad or fearful is to offer them patience and kindness. People who are angry and looking for a fight fully expect to be hit back with more anger and hostility. But when you deprive them of that? They may immediately change their tune as their rudeness and anger deflate.

Many of us quickly jump into our established defensive mechanisms of hostility and anger, which translate into rudeness and aggression. But you don’t have to. Granted, it takes a lot of work and creating peace in yourself. However, you must fully understand that this person’s actions have little or nothing to do with you and everything to do with how they’ve chosen to approach you.

Once you can better take control of your own emotions, the amount of peace you can cultivate within yourself is astounding. And that peace helps to take the edge off your own meanness and approach to life.

6. Find appreciation for yourself and other people.

People can be a pain sometimes. There’s just no getting around that fact. They’re messy creatures with a lot of emotions that they don’t always handle well. That includes you. Those feelings and problems can filter out as rudeness toward others.

Still, you can help tone back those negative feelings by practicing gratitude and looking for reasons to appreciate other people in your life. What do they do well? What do you do well? What makes them good people? What makes you a good person? Thank them for what they do. Take some time to thank yourself for making good decisions and acting like a better person.

Practicing that kindness toward yourself and other people is infectious. It can help ease your struggles and elevate your mood, which will help you to stop being mean.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for cultivating peace and happiness in yourself. It is a simple practice of being grateful for what you have, not comparing yourself to others, and not mourning what you don’t have.

Final thoughts on not being mean.

These practices can help you cultivate peace in your mind, defuse the feelings that drive your meanness, and help you approach life in a friendlier way. Still, they are no replacement for help from a certified mental health professional.

Chances are pretty good you may need professional help if you perpetually feel negative, angry, and hostile to others. There may be some underlying problem that needs to be addressed before you can heal and be a better you. is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

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About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.