Back when I first started this blog, a reader asked if I could write about how to let go of those negative feelings you get when someone hurts you. You know the ones I’m talking about right? The ones that repeat like broken records. You’re not good enough. I loved the topic idea, but kept putting off writing it because, well, I wasn’t sure I really had the answers. I am actually a pretty sensitive person and I feel pain even when I hear someone talking badly about another person. It wasn’t until a couple days ago that I started to understand how to answer her question. Why?
I got my first blatantly negative comment awhile ago.
It started with “this article is nothing but complete drivel.” Let’s just say the rest was about as nice! It was honestly so strange because literally the night before (i.e. like 12 hours before) receiving that comment, it occurred to me, while taking Monja for a walk, that I hadn’t gotten any blatantly mean comments on my blog…yet.
I knew the time would eventually come when someone behind an anonymous keyboard would try to make me feel inferior, and while Monja tiptoed around rolie polies and cracked sidewalks, I stood there wondering how well I’d be able to handle it when the time finally came. Do you know what happened when the universe answered back with “Mr. Drivel”?
I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t shed any tears. Monja was still sleeping at my feet. And the world didn’t explode into a million broken pieces.
Nothing bad happened because I didn’t let it happen.
And then it kind of hit me – when someone does or says something cruel to us, they are releasing an extension of themselves. It’s up to us if we let it engulf us.
To paint you a little mind-picture, imagine these Mean Marvins have magical powers and…tentacles. Lots of tentacles. When they want to hurt you with their words, they just try to wrap their tentacles around you like an evil mermaid hug. But guess what? That octomeanie can’t move. In fact, they’re pretty much stuck to the ground of their own life and experiences. The only way they can get all those tentacles around you is if you get too close to them. So you watch them there, with all their angry looking arm thingies and you smile, because if you don’t let them touch you, then you’re fine. If I lost you at octomeanie, then let me just recap by saying that when people hurt you, they are just sharing an extension of them. It’s totally up to us if we let that person’s mean spirit, or…tentacle, wrap itself around us.
Just in case I lost you with that weird analogy, I want to share some tips and ideas for staying positive and happy, even when people make you feel like plankton.
1. Like I said above, remember it’s all THEM. We share pieces of ourselves with other people everyday. Often, these are good pieces. Conversations, laughter, personal details about our lives. But sometimes we share bad pieces too. Mean comments, gossip, hatred. Just because someone shares their bad pieces with us, doesn’t mean they all of a sudden become ours. Maybe their comments are even true! Maybe your butt really does look big in those jeans! But they’re still sharing part of their reality and their perspective. No one says you have to adopt it as your own!
2. Find a supportive community. After I got that blog comment, I shared the experience on Twitter because I really was proud of myself for not letting it get me down. And you know what? SO many people responded with sweet, supportive comments back to me. People I’ve never even spoken to before! Some people even responded back to the commenter (haha!) in my defense. Having support from other other people and just knowing that there are people in the world who love and care about you is HUGE.
3. Write about it! Actually, even just writing this post feels pretty therapeutic. There’s something about the feeling of expressing your thoughts on paper or, uh, a computer. 😉
4. Think about what they said. Is it true? Sometimes the hurt of mean comments can blind us from analyzing their truth. Just be calm. Breathe. Maybe they just wanted to help you, but because of their experience, their words come off in a negative tone. Look past the tone, the vocabulary, and the pain. If what they’re saying is true, then maybe it’s just something you can focus your constructive, positive energy on changing.
5. “You don’t know me!” It’s true, most people don’t know exactly what you’ve been through or why you are the way you are. Their mean comments are just a function of them and what they’ve seen of you. Did you catch that? Not you, but just what they’ve seen of you. And you know what? That’s ok! They may not formulate their opinions based on all the answers of who you are, but that just means you don’t have to accept their opinions as the whole entire truth. Listen, analyze, and then move on.
6. Get rid of them (on the internet). There’s this weird thing about social media and the internet where we feel like we have to be online buddies with anyone we’ve ever met or seen or heard about through a friend or…you get it. And sometimes those acquaintances can leave you some pretty crude comments. It’s a helluva lot easier to be mean through an internet screen than it is in real life. But you know what? You don’t have to be their friend! If someone was always a meanie to you in real life, you’d probably just stop hanging out with them. On the internet? You still got choices, baby! Stop following them, delete them, block them. WHAT-E-VA! If they are projecting their negativity into the world and its leaking on you like an oil spill, then they don’t need to be in your life – internet or otherwise.
7. Something NOT to do? Be mean back to them. It’s just not worth it and will probably cause more pain to both of you. In fact, if you really want to do something to them – then wish them well. If you’re religious, pray for them. If you’re like me, send them some positive mojo and hope they have a better day.
The world gives you what you give to it. Remember that. And then crack a smile, because you fucking rock.