In the early 2000s, Saturday Night Live ran a sketch starring Rachel Dratch as “Debbie Downer”. Each sketch basically had the same arrangement: a collection of people were gathered together for a fun, special occasion, such as going to Disney World, a Thanksgiving dinner, a wedding reception, etc. While everyone else is working to have a good time, Debbie still manages to take every positive thing going on and find the negative in it. It wears very thin, very quickly with everyone else. By the end of the sketch, they all get up and leave her by herself. Even though the skits are funny, they do highlight that naturally energy draining and repelling effect of a negative person on a group. If you have never seen a Debbie Downer sketch, you can check these out to see what I am talking about—and to make sure you do not act like this.
They are hilarious, but illustrate a real social problem:
Origin of the Debbie Downer sketch—an interview with Rachel Dratch:
The Problem with Being Negative:
There are many reasons why a person can focus so much on the negative. Perhaps they had a childhood with abuse or neglect or other forms of trauma. Maybe they are naturally prone to depression or anxiety physically, which can come out as negativity. Whatever the origins, some people tend to focus on the negative—both inside themselves and verbally with others. The effect is that positive energy is drained out of the room, the mood dampens, and people become annoyed. “Commiserating” (collectively being miserable together) creates a repelling experience that people will soon tire of and want to get away from. The net social effect of being negative are fewer friends and a smaller pool of people to date. Don’t be THAT person.
Tips to Not Be a Downer:
*Affirmations: create a long list of positive and true things about yourself and life in general. Add to it regularly. Then read these statements out loud once a day. Remember: that which we focus on, we amplify. Affirmations are a good, useful focus.
*Catch yourself: pay much more attention to both the thoughts in your mind and the words you use with other people. When you catch yourself naturally drifting towards the negative, steer it back over towards something positive. Have self-awareness and correct your course as necessary.
Read more tips here!