5 Ways to Feel Better When Someone is Mean to You

5 Ways to Feel Better When Someone is Mean to You

If you’re human, you have, at some point, experienced someone who was mean to you. It’s just part of life. Maybe your coworker said something in a not-so-nice tone, or your husband said you were being childish. Perhaps your mother-in-law said you shouldn’t let your kid do that…”that’s not what a good mother would do.”

In these moments, our brains go places like…

”I can’t believe he/she just said that. How rude!?”

“I guess she doesn’t like me.”

“He/she is being completely unreasonable.”

“What the hell?!”

Here’s a little secret! You don’t have to stay in negative emotion about it. You have complete control over how you feel about what they said or how they behaved. Isn’t that fantastic??

Here are 5 things you can do to feel better when someone is mean to you.

Realize that it’s not about you

What other people say and do is about them, not about you. Did you know that? When your coworker is mean to you, that is about what is going on for HER. Maybe she had a rough morning or she’s going through something difficult in her personal life. It could even be that she doesn’t like herself right now which makes it harder to be nice to anyone else. Even though it may seem like it has everything to do with you because her behavior happen just after you asked her question, it has NOTHING to do with you.

Going to an automatic thought like, “she must be mad at me” is just an assumption. You are assuming she must be mad at you based on her tone of voice or the expression on her face. It’s what we call a “thought error” and it is completely normal human behavior. Knowing that the thought your brain is offering you is just an assumption and that it’s not about you, you can focus your brain on creating a thought that better serves you.

Decide who YOU want to be in this situation

No matter how mean your brain interprets someone’s behavior as, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • Who do I want to be in this situation?
  • How do I WANT to feel about him/her?
  • How do I want to show up?

No matter what someone else’s says or does, YOU get to choose all of these things. You get to choose the type of person you want to be in this situation. You get to choose how you want to feel about them, and you get to choose how YOU want to show up no matter how they are showing up. Isn’t that great news?! You get to take back all your power in that situation.

Be kind…even to mean people.

Remember that their actions are coming from fear

People who are mean are just angry and scared. That’s it. That’s what’s going on for them. When they are angry and scared, they lash out as a way to try to protect themselves.

Anger is what we call a secondary emotion. The primary emotion causing the anger is FEAR. Mean people are afraid of something – no, I’m not talking about roaches (EEK!). They have a deep fear that they may not even be conscious of yet.

Mean people (who sometimes appear to have a lot of self-confidence) are actually insecure. They have a need to prove to the world and themselves that they are right because being wrong would be a huge blow to their self-esteem. They fear being wrong. To their brain, it would mean that maybe they’re not good enough, smart enough, or worthy in some way. They’re afraid of losing their status, not having control, or losing their power. Afraid of  other people not accepting them. They’re afraid of failing. Terrified of what other people will think of them if they show their humanness.

Respond with Curiosity & Compassion

Remembering that the actions of others are not about you and that they’re really just a scared human being can help you to respond from a place of curiosity & compassion. Even if you choose not to respond, you can do so from a place of curiosity and compassion instead of frustration and resentment.

Get curious about what might be going on for them. You can ask yourself:

  • I wonder what is going on for them that is driving them to behave that way
  • What I am making their behavior mean about me and why?
  • I wonder what they are thinking or feeling that is so painful for them
  • I wonder what they are afraid of

Stepping away from your initial thoughts about what they did or said and being a curious observer can actually help you to have more compassion…for both yourself and for the other person.

Getting upset over their words are behavior is only hurting YOU…not them.

Love them anyway

Did you know that someone can be mean to you or not like you, and you can just choose to love them anyway?! I recently discovered this for myself and it has been mind-blowing! I realized that she can act or feel however she wants…we get to choose that as adults. Isn’t being an adult amazing? But I get to choose how I want to feel and show up too and I can just choose to love her no matter how she shows up….Mind. Blown. How is that? It’s because someone not liking you has to do with their inability to love, not your lovability. You can’t make anyone love you or be nice to you, but you can choose to just love them.  Isn’t that powerful? You get to take all your power back!

“The only thing that makes someone not love us is not our lovability, but their incapacity to love.” – Brooke Castillo

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Stacy R. Landry


  1. Jane

    I work in retail, and I love it. I really do love my job, but today people were so mean to me… they mindlessly hurt me so bad and I want to forget they ever did. Thanks for the advice, it was calming. I think it takes time and practice to respond to mean people with the sort of compassion written of in this article, and I’m trying, but I’m not quite there yet. Thanks for the help.

    1. srenee05

      Hi Jane,

      I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that. Just remember that what other people say or do is about what’s going on with them, not about you. Just keep practicing that thought.

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