We have all experienced some form of hateraid, negative talk, bullying or trolling. At face value, it’s not a good feeling. If we let it penetrate or affect us, those words can bring us down and worst case scenario, if we let it, it can ruin our day, week and worst of all, our self esteem. So, how do we protect ourselves from these hater trolls? Understanding is always a key ingredient, understanding where people come from and why they do what they do.
When people go out of their way to put others down with negative words, comments and contributions, it’s a reflection of their own inner state of being and insecurity that they are projecting onto you. It’s usually not even about you. It’s just that something that you are doing is triggering something deep inside of them.
These are the worst and the best examples of a common form of negativity and bullying that so many of us see. Celebrities have it pretty bad and it’s hard to believe the things that people choose to say to public figures. People in the public eye, typically, have chosen to be there, and unfortunately dealing with harsh critics is part of the territory but nonetheless, it doesn’t make it right or ok. For most of us, online trolls aren’t that bad of an issue, but it can be, especially if you are posting regularly and starting to build a following, there will always be one or two or more that will put in their negative two cents.
I remember when I started posting on Facebook about Sexy Boss Babe, I got my first taste of a troll. In all honesty, my initial reaction was of excitement! I screenshot the comments and sent it out in a group text to all my friends exclaiming, “You guys, I got my first troll!” It may sound funny, but as the saying goes, when you start having “haters,” know that you are doing something right. I didn’t let it affect me, and didn’t even bother responding to the comment. What was even more intriguing to me was that everyone else on that thread were like a bunch of defenders and came to my rescue! Everyone started shutting the troll down.
This one is hard because our family and friends are usually well intentioned yet their negativity can penetrate and hurt the most. Most often, loved ones are harsh in their criticism because they want to protect us. And of course, some are just mean and those people have their own underlying unresolved traumas that unfortunately loved ones on the receiving side end up absorbing it.
I grew up in an overly critical family. I love my family and they are good people, but they have a survival mentality. Survival mentalities are often glass half empty people. Their first instinct is to see and point out all the flaw in something and why it won’t work. They may have points and could be right, but the opposite could also be true and I’m a glass half full type of person so growing up in this environment was very hard for someone like me. I always kept so much to myself for fear of negativity. When there is such a strong negativity in your environment it can affect your personal self image and there’s no one around cheering you on and encouraging you. This is what often leads to people not having the courage to try new things or leave their comfort zones. It’s the killer of dreams and more times than not, where our own inner negative voice comes from.
This can be a tough one too because you have to be careful how you treat others and how others will perceive you.
I was leading a meeting once and was faced with an aggressively negative person. I had put a lot of effort into preparing for and setting up that meeting. She was picking on everything I said and did. I didn’t expect that behavior and was not prepared on how to deal with it. I was a new leader and wanted to be careful how I addressed it. I wanted to show the group that constructive feedback is welcomed, but it was clear to everyone she was being a bully so I needed to handle the situation. I calmly defended myself and where appropriate, yes, I firmly shut her down. We finally got the meeting on track. I did everything I could to keep a straight face and when the group started their activity, I excused myself to get a cup of water. She almost had me in tears and I fought those tears back as hard as I could so she couldn’t see that it affected me. I collected myself and came back in the room. I showed strength that day and I earned the respect of the group.
How To Safeguard Against Negative Talk
We can’t control others, but we are in control of how we react to things. It all starts with a strong sense of self and confidence. The way to that is through healthy self esteem. Doing a self inventory is so important to see where you stand. Are you finding you are easily being affected by others words, criticism and negativity? It could be due to low self esteem and when trolls come around, they trigger our own inner wounds.
The first and most important step to protecting ourselves is to work on building our self esteem. Creating a list of positive affirmations and reading them daily can do wonders. Doing positive things and being a productive person in your personal life and the life of others can help you see your own inner value and worth. Putting yourself out there and trying new things, is a great exercise in pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. This is an investment in your self confidence.
After leaving my abusive relationship, one of the things I did was sign up for sailing classes and I became a certified skipper. I can’t begin to explain the feeling of learning how to sail a 42” boat through the ocean without a motor and only the power of the wind by manipulating the sails. Part of that is being able to lead your crew and direct them to help in the process. This experience did wonders for my self confidence and it would never have happened if I hadn’t left my comfort zone.
I mentioned in last week’s leadership blog that Toast Masters is a great organization to join to help us improve our public speaking and leadership skills. Part of their group format, is public constructive feedback. What’s great about allowing yourself to receive public critique in a safe environment like this, can help us become stronger. When you are able to listen to people talk about your areas of improvement. Sitting through that experience may be uncomfortable at first, but you realize you didn’t die. You lived through it and it wasn’t that bad. It helps us build a tougher skin so when the real negative Nancy’s come along, we’re able to brace the impact and eventually get to a place where we don’t even feel their impact.
When you give negativity attention, you are giving it power. This is your life. That means, you are it’s steward and captain. You decide you gets to sit in your boat and enjoy the wonders of the ocean with you. Those that don’t deserve your time and energy, cut them loose, get rid of them, it’s that simple. Surround yourself with people that serve your higher good, that are on your frequency and that share your values. So next time a hater comes along…”get that dirt off your shoulder.”
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