Dear Doug: Some People Are Happy Being Unhappy
Q: No one can out-depress my new neighbor! I have learned not to ask her how she is. She spends at least 30 minutes giving me details of why she is depressed.
When she moved in, I invited her for dinner, took her shopping and even agreed to pick up her meds for her. She has never thanked me. Now I try to hide from her because she upsets me so with her requests and demands.
She phones regularly with her woes and needs, and I'm running out of excuses to avoid her.
What can I do?
A: There are individuals who simply take the attitude that they deserve attention and are only happy when they find individuals they can get their hooks into.
That becomes their lifestyle. They believe being depressed brings them the attention they need; they latch on to enablers who become their kindhearted victims.
Negative people are often aware of what they are doing and enjoy doing so, just as happy people are. There is little likelihood of changing their attitudes. We all have only so much energy and should direct it to what works best for us, not what others recommend.
Sometimes the cure can be tough love. Continuing to bail people out of their problems is not a solution.
Rather than avoiding your neighbor, you may need to face the music. Simply tell her your goal is to associate with happy, supportive and positive individuals.
Hopefully she will get your point and either change her attitude or quit bugging you. -- Doug