I talk with a lot of kind, thoughtful, self-aware people and a question that frequently comes up is, "Why are people so mean?" This type of question usually arises because someone has been treated poorly by someone else without provocation. Here are some of the reasons people are mean:
- They have unresolved issues inside themselves that cause them pain and discomfort, so they take it out on others.
- They haven't learned how to be nice, perhaps never had a role model to show them what it's like to kind and empathic instead of cruel.
- They were hurt at some point in time and have never moved past it.
- They had their feeling of safety taken away or betrayed by someone they trusted and they lash out at others to form a perimeter of safety.
- They figure if they hurt others first, they won't be hurt.
- They don't believe in going to therapy to figure out what's really going on under all the fear and anger.
- They're unhappy with themselves but don't know how to change it.
- They surround themselves with people who enable their behavior.
- They think everyone is out to get them.
- They don't know how to deal with their own emotions and thoughts.
It's important to note that, if you said something rude to someone or poked them in the eye, it would be natural for them to be less than nice to you, but I'm referring to instances where you were treated meanly by someone without any provocation.
The main thing to remember when someone is mean to you without provocation is that it has nothing to do with you. You're not at fault and you didn't deserve it. It's just that they have unresolved issues that boil up uncontrollably and you happened to be in the vicinity. If someone is mean to you, you have a lot of power because you can choose the self-awareness path: Realize that it's not about you, and remove yourself from the situation.