Debbie Downers

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Last week we talked about mood hoovers in general and how these people’s moods can have a negative impact on us and our lives. Today we look at one of the types of mood hoovers that you might come across. Seeing people for who they are can be a powerful part in helping us to not get negatively affected by them.

While a downer has been used to refer to a depressing person since at least the 1970s, the name Debbie Downer was coined by a Saturday night TV program which began in 2004 starring Rachel Dratch, who played a character named Debbie Downer. This character consistently ruins a group’s fun by sharing unsolicited sad remarks in every situation, including the most famous the family vacation to Walt Disney World. From here on, it wasn’t just being a downer, you then had become a Debbie Downer. Having negative feelings doesn’t make you a Debbie Downer or a Negative Nellie, for that matter. Having negative feelings sometimes is very natural and healthy, but being chronically negative could be a sign of a problem. These people are often fighting their own issues of fear and insecurity and this mind set shows that they are holding foreboding and fear. Instead of trying to work it through themselves they are projecting their fears onto every person, situation and conversation they have. Debbie downers are people who frequently add bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them.


You may say to someone, guess what? My partner has surprised me with weekend away, a Debbie Downer might say-be careful there I hear there is lots of gun crime in that country.  Let’s break this down a bit, if your partner had booked a weekend away in Beirut, then of course friends could rightly mention this to you and they wouldn’t be a Debbie Downer in doing so. But, if your weekend away is in Paris, then yes this is just a downer remark, just trying to take the sparkle out of your exciting weekend ahead.  The worst Debbie Downers are great at just killing the joy in a room, situation or conversation.  We have to accept that we don’t know what’s coming and that no one can 100% say we will have a great time, or if it will go well, or if we will be safe. But if we live the Debbie Downer way we will never do anything or if we do, it will be without joy and laugher as this has been sucked out of us with the negativity.

Don’t get me wrong, we can all get sad and depressed over things in ours and others lives but a Debbie Downer is someone who is excessively outwardly depressed, under any circumstance, this person’s main objective is to trash, ruin, spoil and in many cases absolutely kill your joy. These types of people have mastered the art of self-pity and will go to great lengths to get anyone who will listen, to feel as depressed as they feel. After a busy week, the optimistic person might say let’s go out and let our hair down its been such a crazy week, whereas the Debbie Downer would say I don’t know how you can think about going out after the week we have all had.


As with any type of mood hoover, we have to take the power away from these people who are trying to bring a downer on your lives, mood or the generally being depressive about most things. It’s time to stop letting them have this power over your life, sometimes, we unknowingly give toxic individuals influence over our thoughts, behaviours and feelings. Whether you spend two hours complaining about your mother-in-law you don’t like, or you let a colleague at work ruin your day, it’s important to regain your personal power. This is where all of us from time to time can be a bit of a Debbie Downer, don’t let people impact you in this way, if your mother in law has always been like this, maybe she always will. Moaning about her won’t change her, all it will do will lower your mood and then who’s in control? You or your mother in law? This is where you need to bat it off, don’t let it get overwhelming for you or take up anymore of your time then it needs too. Don’t allow negative people to steal your time and energy, rather than complain about people you don’t enjoy, choose to strike up conversations about pleasurable topics. Similarly, instead of spending your journey to work thinking about how much you dislike that person you have to work with, turn on the radio and listen to music that will help to reduces your stress. Take back your power by limiting the amount of time you spend talking about, thinking about, and worrying about the Debbie Downers in your life.

If something negative has happened, a Debbie Downer could keep you more locked in this situation by adding to your pity party, continuing to lower your mood by joining in with your negativity. We all have things that go wrong in life or things that can depress us, but the key thing is not to let this grow any bigger than what it is. If you say to someone what do you think about my chances in getting that promotion and they reel of a million reason why not, imagine how this will impact your ability to have that confidence you need to apply for the promotion. As I said earlier we don’t know what will happen and it’s better to have tried and failed then to never have tried at all, as the journey of trying can often help you grow and evolve. Thus, in turn making the next attempt a successful one, as we have learnt from failing, this will enable us to succeed or we may have just succeeded in the first place.


Seek out positive people to keep you balanced, just like negative people can rub off on you, a positive person can brighten your spirits. Spending time with Debbie Downers can be the fastest way to ruin a good mood. Their pessimistic outlooks and gloomy attitude can decrease your motivation and change the way we feel.  It can even make you feel angry and push your stress levels and blood pressure up, so don’t let these people dictate your emotions or give them any power in your life. Debbie Downers often try to influence how we feel so make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of mental energy you give them. Although it can be tempting to blame others for the way you feel, take control and don’t give them any of your power. When you act in a manner that isn’t consistent with your usual behaviour, accept responsibility for it. Commit to controlling your emotions and staying true to your values, despite the people around you is a great lesson to learn. 

Make a conscious effort to choose your attitude. Create an affirmation for yourself, like, “I’m strong and positive not matter how other people feel,” and repeat it several times a day to keep this positive focus. Take a deep breath and decide that you’re going to make it a great day, despite what others say or do. Take this opportunity to do more things independently and grow your own inner confidence, following your own instinct will become easier and stronger because of this. If you need advice or support choose someone who will give you positive support, objective advice and work to spend more time with the people like this in your life.


Thanks for dropping by Sara x






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