17 Signs You Have a Bad Attitude & How to Fix It

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When you have a bad attitude (permanently, or more often than not), there’s no way that you are happy and enjoying your life.

My friend Andrea has a poor attitude and an aptitude for finding a problem when there’s a solution or a gray cloud when most people would focus on the silver lining. 

Andrea’s cynicism, bitterness, and negativity have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. She expects the negative in life, and so the negative happens (she attracts negativity into her life because of her “stink” attitude). 

Andrea believes that she’s unlovable and no one cares about her because no one sticks around.

The truth is that her negativity, anger, and ability to misinterpret everything pushes safe people (those who are emotionally and mentally healthy) away. I mean, who wants to hang around a Sour Sally?  

Are you worried that you have a poor attitude? Do you want to work on it so you can be a safe person for your friends, family, and colleagues to be around? 

Then you’re in the right place since I’ve got everything you need to know about having a bad attitude and fixing it right here. 

What Is a Bad Attitude? 

When someone has a bad attitude (also called a poor, negative, or stink attitude), they behave in ways that are not constructive, cooperative, or optimistic.

And because of their poor emotional and mental state, they don’t achieve the results they actually desire or there are no constructive outcomes. 

You hold space for negative emotions, such as doubt, worry, frustration, anger, hostility, jealousy, and envy that spiral out of control and take over how you think and how you act.

Those around you would describe you as arrogant, aggressive, blunt, callous, dishonest, critical, distant, guarded, indifferent, intolerant, unemotional, selfish, rude, resentful, and pessimistic.  

If you are in a mood, you automatically impact everything around you in a negative way. It’s harmful behavior, and you hurt yourself and those around you because you are difficult to live with, get along with, and work with. 

But it’s not easy to recognize that you are the problem because our instinct is usually to apply blame: It’s someone or something else’s fault that X happened, that Y worked out the way it did, or that Z doesn't want anything to do with you. 

Ernest Benn has a quote about politics, but I think it’s just as suitable as having a negative attitude. He says, “[A bad attitude] is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Fitting, right? 

Factors that Come into Play When You Have an Unhealthy Attitude

Having a poor attitude in life affects everything around you. It hinders you from seeing and experiencing life as it actually is and finding joy in small and big moments.

It also prevents you from growing as a person, learning healthy coping strategies, and experiencing new and exciting things

When you have a stink attitude and behavior to match, it’s quite possible that you’ll end up lonely, stressed, and depressed

While you should be realistic about the effects your poor behavior has, it’s also important to understand the causes of your attitude and what triggers it. 

Here are some reasons why you have a negative attitude

  • Your temperament
  • Learned behavior and your habits reinforce a poor attitude 
  • Poor role models   
  • An unhealthy environment and trauma, failures, and hardships 
  • Clinical depression or a chemical imbalance 
  • Having a medical condition that predisposes you to suffering from anxiety or depression 
  • Stress 
  • Grief 

Temporary vs Permanent Attitudes  

A temporary negative attitude is when something happens to trigger your bad mood and behavior. You may behave badly for an hour, a day, or a week, and then it passes, and you act as your normal realistic or positive self. 

When you have a stink attitude once in a while, you realize that a bad moment is really just a bad moment. It isn’t a bad day, a bad chapter in your life, or a bad life. Something happened, and you reacted negatively for a while. Now it’s over and done, and you move on. 

On the other hand, some people are in a permanent or perpetual state of having a negative outlook and behaving badly. It’s like they can’t shake their bad moods (unless they identify that they have a negative attitude and actively work on it). 

Attitude Adjustments 

Your attitude (your personality and the way you think, feel, and act) affects how you see life, how you communicate, and your behavior. When you have a poor attitude and it negatively affects everything in your life, it may be time for an attitude adjustment

You see, while you may feel and behave negatively and poorly now and again, your thinking patterns and attitude eventually become automatic and habitual as they develop. So it’s very likely that a temporary negative mood will become more and more permanent if you aren’t mindful and purposeful in how you act, feel, and think.  

Thus, a change to your attitude may be necessary. 

Getting more sleep, exercising, regularly eating nutritious and healthy meals, and introducing more good and joy in your life are a few ways to help you feel better, and when you don’t feel so tired and grumpy, your mood improves

Other things you can do to adjust your attitude is to watch your actions and words, give people the benefit of the doubt, learn to let go, smile and practice kindness, and start your day with gratitude.

17 Signs You Have a Bad Attitude 

Here are the signs that you have a negative attitude (which is making your life much harder than it has to be):  

Sign #1. It’s Your Way or the Highway

When you believe that it’s either your way or the highway, your attitude stinks. You are highly inflexible in accepting anything that isn’t your way, because your way is the only right way, right? 

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Your life isn’t the same as someone else’s and moreover, you never get the whole or real story, so why compare yourself? 

Well, wrong. We are all unique and there are multiple ways of doing something and achieving the goal. Imposing your way as the only way on others is very unhealthy.  

Sign #2. You Always Compare Yourself to Others

Do you always compare yourself to others?

This can be in real life, when you compare how you are doing versus your family, friends, and colleagues when they share stories about their lives and their accomplishments. Or it can be online via social media platforms where you see all the picture-perfect lives. 

It can be the other way around too where you see and hear how badly others are doing, while it’s going rather well with you.  

Either you feel like you are doing way better, making you feel superior to others, or you feel like you are down in the dumps (and inferior) because your life comes up short. Your chapter 4 isn’t the same as someone else’s chapter 4, and moreover, you never get the whole or real story, so why compare yourself? 

You’ll only feel negative (whether you are doing better or worse than others). 

Sign #3. You Look Down on Others 

If you have a superiority complex and believe you are God’s gift to the world, you’ll look down on other people who don’t have what you have. It could be that they lack a fancy house or car, a college degree, a partner and kids, or riches in the bank.

Truth be told, we can’t all be rich, beautiful, and famous, and just because you have what others don’t have doesn’t make you better than them. 

Sign #4. Everyone Annoys You 

Another sign of having a negative and unhealthy attitude is when everyone annoys you. It annoys you when they are around you, what they do annoys you, and even what they say has the power to get on your nerves.  

And so you are rude to everyone. 

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and similarly, no one can make you feel annoyed unless you choose to feel irritated

Sign #5. You Are Always in a Hurry

There is a lot to do every day. I get it. Everyone is busy

But when you are always in a hurry and feel like others are (purposefully) trying to slow you down or keep you from your tasks, you make people feel like they are in the way and not worth your time. 

Who would want to be around such a person? 

Sign #6. Your Expectations Are Too High

Having unrealistic expectations is another sign of a poor attitude. Chances are high that no one will meet your standards and expectations, and everyone will come up short as incompetent and lazy. I can tell you now that you will always be disappointed

When you have expectations that are too high, you aren’t able to empathize with other people – with what they experience, their problems, and their imperfect human-ness. 

It’s possible that you feel a sense of entitlement when you demand that others cater to your unrealistic needs and desires, and you never compromise unless it works in your favor. 

Sign #7. You See the World as Black or White

There are always shades of gray, and nothing is ever truly just black or white. Yet, you, with your unhealthy attitude, see the world as black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, us or them. There’s no middle ground or an in-between.   

Life is complicated, yet you make it even more so when you can’t see the gray or bigger picture because everything needs to fit into your narrative of good and bad. And when you can’t connect with the black or white because some things simply aren’t so clear set, you get upset, angry, and scared

Sign #8. You Misinterpret Everything Other People Say and Do 

Nothing anyone does is ever right by you or enough for you. Everything they do or say sets you off because you – on purpose – misinterpret their actions or what they say. 

Someone might bring you a coffee or a piece of birthday cake because they are kind and want to connect with you, but you assume that they want to suck up or butter you up for something.

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When you have expectations that are too high, you aren’t able to empathize with other people.

Or maybe your boss picks on you during the meeting (because they happen to look at you at that moment); yet you now believe your boss hates you and that you’re going to be fired. 

You can’t read minds, and it’s dangerous to assume, but you do – all the time. 

Sign #9. You Fixate on Conflict

You ruminate on past events and conflict like it’s the only thing that has ever mattered in your life. And the more you think about the conflict, argument, or fight, the more catastrophic and all-consuming it becomes. 

It’s all you can think about, and if there’s someone you talk to, the past is all you talk about

Sign #10. You Always Expect the Worst 

When you’re about to climb down a flight of stairs, your mind automatically jumps to you falling, humiliating yourself, and breaking an arm or leg (or both). Or if you’ve applied for a job, you expect that the interview will go horribly wrong and the interviewer will trash your name so you can never get another job interview. 

You may think these examples of expecting the worst are silly, but they aren’t – not when you have a bad attitude. You believe that you are always doomed, and nothing will work out.

Sign #11. You Carry Grudges 

Another sign of having a negative attitude is when you carry grudges and you can’t forgive the person who wronged you.

After all, you can’t forgive and forget because then you’ll just be a sucker again when your colleague uses you again or when your partner makes you look like a fool again. 

And so you hold grudges and can’t let go of the resentment and anger. You fixate on it, becoming sad, angry, and hostile. 

Sign #12. You Always Believe You Are Unlikeable

Do you believe that no one will ever like or love you? Then it’s possible that you don’t give people a chance to like you (and you probably don’t even like yourself). 

You are probably proud of the fact that you are a “Class A” jerk to everyone, and you use this façade to cover your insecurities and low self-esteem. Instead of waiting to be rejected and not liked, you pre-reject (reject people before they can reject you). 

Sign #13. You Can’t Be Happy for Other People 

When you learn about someone else’s success, how do you feel? Do you get angry because it should be you who deserves that promotion? Or do you feel envious or jealous because you also want what they have? 

You’re unable to be happy for other people, and this in itself is emotionally and mentally draining, which fuels your negativity.  

Sign #14. You Can’t Let Go

It’s not easy to let go, and while other people struggle with this, you simply just won’t let go at all. You’re struggling and you’re in pain, and it’s not easy to see past the hurt and trauma. 

You act thoughtlessly, venting your anger, grief, and frustration in the form of chronic complaints, critique, and insults. 

Sign #15. People Call You Out on Your Bad Attitude

When one person tells you that you have an unhealthy attitude, you can chalk it up to you or them having a bad day, but when quite a number of people actively avoid you and tell you that your attitude stinks, they are likely onto something

These individuals have had enough of how badly you are treating them and others, and they’ll take their chances to say what a royal jerk you’ve been. Instead of listening to them and taking responsibility, you’ll feel attacked and lash out

Sign #16. Everyone Else Is Competition or the Enemy 

You don’t really see any person as being your friend. The people in your life fall into one of two camps: competition or enemy. You believe that everyone is out to harm you because the world is a dangerous place. 

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Another sign of having a negative attitude is when you carry grudges and you can’t forgive the person who wronged you.

People are there to use and abuse you, work against you, and take what you have. They purposefully set out to take advantage and harm you. 

And so, you need to squash the competition like a bug or defeat the enemy, using any means necessary to protect yourself from (falsely) perceived threats and harm. 

Sign #17. You Demand Respect and Never Respect Others 

Everyone wants to be respected, including you. The difference is that you don’t respect others. 

You expect people to be kind, generous, and compassionate toward you (and hold you in high esteem), yet you are rude and mean (and act in other disrespectful ways) to them. 

How to Overcome Having a Bad Attitude 

Having a negative attitude is completely in your control, and it’s also in your power to fix it and change for the better (aka do an attitude adjustment). 

Here are some of the best tips to help you fix your poor attitude

  • Identify that your attitude stinks. 
  • Stop the blame game and take responsibility for what you think and feel and how you behave (as well as the impact this has on other people).  
  • Become aware of what triggers your bad mood or why you have a negative attitude, and work through this. 
  • Desire to change. You have to want it before you can work on bettering your attitude. 
  • Work on improving your thoughts. Think positively and let go of negative beliefs. 
  • Develop good habits
  • Surround yourself with safe people who have a good influence on you. 
  • Be kind to yourself. 
  • Visualize how your life can change (for the better) when you adjust your attitude. 
  • Be grateful and take stock of the good and amazing in your life. 
  • Use positive self-talk and affirmations. 
  • So no to “victim mentality.”
  • Remember that a bad moment is temporary and it’ll pass. 
  • Practice mindfulness meditations daily. 

Final Thoughts on Having a Bad Attitude 

You’ll know whether you have a negative attitude by now if you weren’t sure before, and you’ll also realize how unhealthy and harmful it is to you and those you care about. 

It’s essential to remember that while you don’t have power and control over a lot (or everything) in life, you are in control of yourself.

You can change your attitude, and your quality of life is your responsibility.  Besides the tips I’ve shared, do you want more help to change your attitude? Then check out these affirmations for positive thinking or ways to be a more fun person to be around.

And if you're looking for more resources on personal development, be sure to check out these blog posts:

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