My Networker Login   |   

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

Rate this item
(67 votes)


How to Succeed at Self-Sabotage

By Cloe Madanes

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living conditions are stable, peaceful, and prosperous—no civil wars raging in your streets, no mass hunger, no epidemic disease, no vexation from poverty—making yourself miserable is a craft all its own, requiring imagination, vision, and ingenuity. It can even give life a distinctive meaning.

So if you aspire to make yourself miserable, what are the best, most proven techniques for doing it? Let’s exclude some obvious ways, like doing drugs, committing crimes, gambling, and beating up your spouse or neighbor. Subtler strategies, ones that won’t lead anyone to suspect that you’re acting deliberately, can be highly effective. But you need to pretend that you want to be happy, like everybody else, or people won’t take your misery seriously. The real art is to behave in ways that’ll bring on misery while allowing you to claim that you’re an innocent victim, ideally of the very people from whom you’re forcibly extracting compassion and pity.

Here, I cover most areas of life, such as family, work, friends, and romantic partners. These areas will overlap nicely, since you can’t ruin your life without ruining your marriage and maybe your relationships with your children and friends. It’s inevitable that as you make yourself miserable, you’ll be making those around you miserable also, at least until they leave you—which will give you another reason to feel miserable. So it’s important to keep in mind the benefits you’re accruing in your misery.

• When you’re miserable, people feel sorry for you. Not only that, they often feel obscurely guilty, as if your misery might somehow be their fault. This is good! There’s power in making other people feel guilty. The people who love you and those who depend on you will walk on eggshells to make sure that they don’t say or do anything that will increase your misery.

• When you’re miserable, since you have no hopes and expect nothing good to happen, you can’t be disappointed or disillusioned.

• Being miserable can give the impression that you’re a wise and worldly person, especially if you’re miserable not just about your life, but about society in general. You can project an aura of someone burdened by a form of profound, tragic, existential knowledge that happy, shallow people can’t possibly appreciate.

Honing Your Misery Skills

Let’s get right to it and take a look at some effective strategies to become miserable. This list is by no means exhaustive, but engaging in four or five of these practices will help refine your talent.

Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.

<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 Next > End >>
(Page 1 of 5)

Leave a comment (existing users please login first)


  • Comment Link Sunday, 06 September 2015 05:02 posted by Grant H

    This article is terrific. I have had several psychotherapists, several of which have been terrific. Just reading the comments my hat is off to them seeing the abuse they must take from people who think their condition is a license for venom. I have been on med for depression/anxiety for years and had severe suicidal thoughts when I went off the meds so this topic is no joke to me. Nonetheless, everything she says (tongue in cheek) is consistent with CBT. Just as if you have some genetically based abw=normality that makes you weak, you would exeercise, if your vision was affected yo'd wear glasses, and so on, similarly we can all engage in helpful behaviour and avoid unhealthy behaviour. I have suffered with someone who engaged in this kind of misery-provoking behaviour for years and there is no question we have a choice in many cases. The author clearly distiguishes between behavior we can help and that we cannot and to compare self-defeating behaviour to uncontrollable shizophrenia makes me compassionate for any therapist who must deal with this sorts of lazy, bilious, self-defeating comments that are perfect examples of the sort of misery-genic behaviour she is considering.
    Thank you for your intelligence and compassion and humour, the last usually a sign of sanity and intelligence.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 16 June 2015 02:11 posted by Barbara Montrond rocked this article.....lmao and appreciate the realness of it....Very well done!!

  • Comment Link Saturday, 13 June 2015 17:22 posted by Ann Joy

    I am surprised at people finding the author ignorant and the irony offensive. I've been through times of depression myself.Everyone was saying things like stop worrying, it's gonna be OK, but I felt like throwing up when hearing this.Then I met a stranger in the park who talked to me very much like the author, showing me how ridiculous my thought patterns and complaints were. I am very thankful for this happening, because he actually succeeded at pulling me out of depression!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 06 May 2015 14:35 posted by wayne west

    The symtoms alone remind me of some i know well

  • Comment Link Monday, 27 April 2015 21:17 posted by Alma

    Awesome article! I laughed so hard, and even saw so many things I can improve on. What a learning opportunity! I understand there are real disorders that some of the other comments are talking about, but that's not what this article is about. It's about those who truly create this in their lives. I can see some of these traits in family members, friends, and even in myself. It's a great wake up call to those of us who might be self inflicting some these actions and feelings. I don't think it was meant to attack or minimize real disorders some people might be living with. However, even those people could take this article as a great way to try to recognize something that maybe is in their control to change and work on. Even with disorders there are always things we can work on and improve on our own, and the first step to do that is to recognize it. Loved this!

  • Comment Link Friday, 06 February 2015 20:31 posted by Donna

    Enjoyably helpful! I will try to un-practice some of these habits!!!!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 28 January 2015 08:58 posted by jen

    Brilliant, so true!!

  • Comment Link Sunday, 28 December 2014 21:42 posted by Debra Crowder

    The author of this article is a very insensitive person. Having struggled with depression for years I resent having people like her mock this illness. Yes, humor in life is good and necessary but I see nothing funny about someone making light of another persons struggles.

  • Comment Link Monday, 24 November 2014 17:22 posted by skoogmagoo

    I thought the article was funny and so true. But I'm a happy person and I only have sympathy for true victims, not those who make themselves victims. I found this article by googling why some people are only happy when they are miserable, because I know people like that. They are just like the other commenters here, full of self pity.

  • Comment Link Monday, 10 November 2014 10:44 posted by Debbie Rice

    I really enjoyed this article. I definitely recognized some personality disordered thinking, which of course is not chosen, but developed over time, and not easily changed in my experience. I do think that personality disorders are often not recognized and someone is seen as manipulative when really there's a serious disorder behind the behavior.

    Personality disorders aside, I do subscribe to the theory that many of our behaviors have a payoff (positive or negative) which we gain something from, thus we repeat them over and over. All therapists know this. The issue as I see it is determining first of all whether the behavior and thinking is egodystonic or egosyntonic. Next, what's the gain for the person and do they really want to change the way they interact in the world.

    The author has a gift for clarity of describing behaviors and thinking and I think it's presented in a fun and insightful way!

<< Start < Prev 1 2 Next > End >>