WARNING! Haters ahead!
What scares you? What are you most sensitive about? And the big question.. For what reason? I know that for lots of us, the biggest worry and stress is an external one.. It’s how other people view us, what they think, what kind of ‘label’ we have within certain circles, industries, groups. Even if you’re a jar of Nutella, anyone can market you as Pro-Mite.
Let me first say that this is not something I like to talk about. I didn’t even want to bring this up. I don’t like to give the notion of haters oxygen, energy, validation that supports the that they are effecting me. Some days, my resilience to this is stronger than others. But, external negativity is a fact of life. And to ignore what is sadly a massive part of life, whatever you end up doing (people still found ways to criticize Mother flippin’ Theresa!), is to neglect a huge and important part of the journey. So, this is my take on how to handle haters – who, by the way, are definitely going to hate.
I used to find myself wondering what people said about me when I wasn’t there, how people might introduce me, what stories they chose to share, what kind of things were construed when I wasn’t around.. It’s only natural to wonder.. As much as we would like to think we are perfect in the eyes of others, we are not even close. No one is exempt from being negatively projected (no one, by the way, is exempt from negatively projecting – but that’s another post!). Some people have a strong knack for spreading bad vibes at the expense of others in any way they can. Some people are extremely skilled at kicking people in the sensitives, the metaphorical nuts. Some people have a blimmin’ career in it taking people down.
And this kind of hate is the worst. Because it’s out of your control. It’s often unfair. It’s not something we have the power to change. It’s not something we even have the power to influence, no matter how hard we try. And the fear of knowing all of this used to stop me in my tracks.
If you had told me a year ago that I’d be doing this right now in the way I am, I would have laughed. Like, seriously lol’d. I would have said “don’t be ridiculous, I’m not that dumb! There’s no way I’d ever publicly celebrate the fact I’m doing ‘nothing’, with no real ‘plan’, and no source of reliable income – do you I’m the kind of person who would put my thoughts and dreams and experiences out there for everyone to see and scrutinize? Are you mad? But seriously? Do you think I’d want to expose myself like that?! I’m the most private person in the world when it comes to how I feel and what I want (cue vomit)!”
Now, I would have said this, because I used to put my self worth in the hands of others. I would have said this because I was insecure about myself. I would have said this, somewhat defensively, because I was insecure about my dreams. Did you know that I presented a whole campaign for Toyota in March this year? Probably not (unless you’re my mum). Because I told no-one. I didn’t even share it on Facebook. I was worried about what people would think. I was worried about how people would talk. I was stuck in a cycle of paralyzing anxiety. How would people see me, what would they say, was I good enough, did I even deserve that opportunity at all? This was only 8 months ago. Hard to believe that I’m even writing this right now.
As a result of this innate fear of judgement, and the realization that there is no way to avoid it, I’ve been doing lots of research in to haters. I’ve read lots about using the haters, the disbelievers, the negative energy, as fuel for motivation. I’ve read lots about using their bad vibes as inspiration to succeed. I’ve heard lots about haters hating, because they are uncomfortable with their lack of progress, with their lack success, their lack of self belief, in comparison to you..
Basically.. Poor them. Lucky you.
Now, while it is true that many negative responses come from places of fear and envy, I try my very best to not employ the sort of thinking above.. I try not to think of it as a case of me better than them. As hard as it is, I try to resist projecting pity on to these haters insofar as possible.. Because their reactions, their ideas, their reasons are coming from a place of hate. And to react in a way that feeds my ego, in a way that places me on a pedestal in comparison to them, is to match hate with hate. I’ve learnt to rise above the comments, the judgements, the negativity sure.. But I try not to rise above them as a human. Because this, I believe, makes it a case of me vs them. What is so often overlooked is the fact that we don’t need to prove anything as a reaction.. We don’t need to ‘show them’.. We don’t need to validate our dreams, simply because someone else thought we couldn’t, and shouldn’t do it..
We need to make it happen, because we want to. We need to do it to prove our potential to ourselves. We need to do it because we know we are capable of changing the flippin’ world.. We need to validate ourselves to ourselves.
I used to match hate with hate, ego with ego.. I used to hold my success above others, I used to feel like I’d won by having a one-up on my haters.. However, it never got me very far. It just reinforced an system of external validation. It made my passions and desires muddled. It made me chase the wrong things for the wrong reasons. It made me outsource my sense of self-worth.
So now? I try match that hate with understanding, and a reaffirmation of what I believe, of what I want. I don’t let hate fuel my reasons for chasing my dream, because I don’t want hate to become a reason for success. I try not to let negativity get the better of me (for long!), because I know it’s a hinderance – but I do try to gain whatever learnings I can from each experience. I try to keep in mind that I am no better than anyone, and never will be. I remember that in this life, it’s a case of me vs me and them vs them. We all have our battles, our demons, our dreams, our fears. We all have the potential to learn, to grow, to change.. We all have the potential for greatness.. We just need to realize what that potential is, and how we can best chase it for ourselves. Everything external to that is a challenge, a distraction, a test. It’s teaching you how to strengthen your spirit, how best to handle yourself, how to stay in the zone.
Haters are always going to hate. But the question is.. Will you hate them back?