cut out negative nancy

In case I do a really bad job of communicating what I mean to say in this post, here it is in a nutshell. Cut  people with negative energy out of your life, and you’ll feel better.

When I lived in Portland, my buddy Patrick and I would always go on these epic bike rides (epic for me, warmups for him) and despite our  ridiculous looking tight cycling outfits, we actually talked about girls quite frequently. And oftentimes Pat would use the term “Negative Nancy” when describing women who exerted an extraordinary amount of negative energy. For the purpose of this post, Nancy can be both female or male.

Meet Negative Nancy,  a deeply unhappy person who chooses to deal with her/his unhappiness by trying to make others miserable. They are the kind of people who you often feel sorry for, try to deal with them and then find yourself being stabbed the back (not literally, not yet at least) over and over. Unlike “well-meaning”  unhappy people, Negative Nancy does not actually try to achieve happiness but rather gets satisfaction out of making others unhappy. Her end goal is not happiness but rather widespread misery.

So here is the secret on how you deal with Negative Nancy. Cut her out of your life – completely and immediately. Example, numero uno. My former downstairs neighbor is a Negative Nancy. The guy would come upstairs three times a week to complain about anything and everything. He complained about me not switching my laundry from washer to dryer fast enough, he complained about me talking on my cell phone with my door open and he’d complain about Otto sprinting around my hardwood floors after going potty.  Nevermind that he ran a call center in his downstairs apartment that specialized on selling online marketing services by loudly yelling at people – with his door open. I used to entertain his complaints, even contemplate them at times; then I recognized that’s exactly what he wanted. So I stopped. And I stopped answering the door when he knocked. Then he stopped knocking. And now he has stopped living there. My new downstairs neighbor is a lot more understanding about that crazy trampling cat of mine.

Example, nummer zwei. A former co-worker of mine is the ultimate Negative Nancy, who to this day blames her failed career on the fact that she didn’t understand what I did. Actually, I think she believes I am a career scam artist who achieved temporary success through various “delegation schemes” which nobody other than her has caught on to. She’s right. I am a total scam. Let’s hope nobody ever finds out. What isn’t right is that she uses every opportunity to contact me with passive aggressive emails, comments and the like with the sole purpose of trying to get a reaction out of me. Actually, she ended her last email to me with the following words: “Buh bye (and I know you’ll be stewing on this regardless)” Nice, huh? Congratulations Nancy.  You have managed to upset someone. And you thought Hosni Mubarak was a jerk.

But she was right. I stewed on it for about five minutes. Then I figured out how Gmail allows you to filter something as spam and then automatically deletes it. Now Gmail does the stewing for me. Thanks for the productivity inspiration, Nancy.

I believe it was the French Author Emmanuel Bove who came up with the line “Misery seeks company.” Don’t let it. Cut Negative Nancy out of your life, and use that extra time and mind space and spend it with and on positive people who’s life’s purpose isn’t to spread misery. And don’t feel bad about doing it. Your happiness is more important than whatever ill behaviors Nancy finds pleasure in.

There are millions of nice people who you can interact with. And if you don’t find one, get a cat.


  1. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Cats will eat you when you’re dead.

    Everything else, I completely agree. Great post.

  2. Anonymous February 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Connie, you rock!