3 Types of People Who Secretly Enjoy Being Miserable (and How to Change)

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So if you’re one of the three, or if you know one of the three, what should you do?

By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, EWTN,  2/15/18

Fr. Dwight LongeneckerLet’s face it. Some people enjoy being miserable. Here’s why.

When I ran a business training company before I was ordained we used a personality type program to help people improve working conditions. I soon realized that there were three personality types who gain pleasure from being miserable.

#1. Faux Martyrs

The first one is what I call the Faux Martyr. They love rushing about helping people. C.S. Lewis said you could tell this sort of person a mile off. They lived for others, and you could tell the others by their hunted look. The faux martyr gains his or her satisfaction from life by helping others. That’s how they tell themselves that they are indispensable. Then when they are not appreciated enough, or even worse, when someone tells them they are a busybody, they just love being all hurt and wounded. That’s the cherry on top of their sundae.

They not only help everyone to make themselves feel wonderful, but then they get to be a martyr when they are unloved, and how noble and good they are to be a martyr! That kind of misery just feels sooooo good!

Once the Faux Martyr gets a little kick from that kind of misery, if they are unwell, they soon start to unconsciously look for that situation and those people who they can rush around helping, who will then tell them to mind their own business so they can feel hurt and wounded and important. Then on top of it all they can add a nice dollop of self-righteousness.

These people are hard to help because they love being miserable.

#2. Drama Queens

The second type is the Drama Queen.

This is a person who self-dramatizes. That’s how they make a rather dull life interesting. They self-dramatize by making themselves into someone important. The Drama Queen is always more talented than everyone else. They are more sensitive, more spiritual, more intuitive, more artistic or athletic. In their own minds they are a cut above the rest and when they are unappreciated for their genius, or when they have to mingle with hoi polloi, they cast themselves as the lonely, misunderstood artiste. For them life is always extraordinary, and the most extraordinary part of it is that they are players in a huge drama.

The Drama Queen is always hovering around some new disaster, some new rejection, some new misunderstanding. Life is a great tragedy in which they are the star.

You can’t help these people. They don’t really want to be happy. They love being miserable.

#3. Loyal Skeptics

The third type is the Loyal Skeptic. This person is the old-fashioned “The glass is half empty” person. They just naturally see what is going to go wrong, what is missing or what doesn’t work. They are waiting for disaster. They’re the typical pessimist. They’re the critic of critics. The reason they are like this is because they have an eagle eye for what might go wrong and they feel secure and happy when they are spotting the possible mishap. They’re always testing the ice. They’re always checking the weather. They want to be sure, and being critical and testing is the way they feel secure.

You can’t help these people. They don’t want to be happy. They love being miserable.

The Solutions

So if you’re one of the three what should you do? If you’re a Faux Martyr, back off and do something for yourself instead of being such a busybody. You’re not indispensable. Chill out. You know what? Everybody doesn’t need you all the time. Go on a retreat. Learn how to truly listen and be alone with God.

If you’re a Drama Queen come out of your costume, come down off the stage and realize that most people are not out to get you. Do stuff that’s ordinary. Bad things happen. Get used to it. It doesn’t always have to be a drama. You don’t have to be a tragedian to be worth something. God loves you just as you are. Your self-dramatization doesn’t impress him — and that’s okay.

If you’re a Skeptic, have more trust in God. You’ll be okay. Life is good! Don’t be afraid.

If you live with one of these types, try to understand them. Like all of us they are on a big adventure to find love and life and God and all things eternally good. The more you accept them unconditionally and understand their foibles and failures, the more they will be cured of them — and remember, they are probably blind to their faults.

Just like you.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker was raised in an Evangelical home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from college with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University and was ordained a an Anglican minister in England.

In 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. Since then, he has become a prolific writer and author of twenty books, including Catholicism Pure & SimpleQuest for the Creed and The Mystery of the Magi.

In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He now serves as Pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Read his blog, browse his books and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com.