That’s the advice many of us receive when we take those first tentative steps to get our work into the world in a much bigger way.
The bigger you get, the more you’ll be criticized or just have nasty things said about you (or even to you — anonymously online of course). So, chalk it up to jealously and move on.
Now, full disclosure, I also believed this sage advice…until a couple of weeks ago.
After the death of my mother, I wrote a blog post as a tribute to her. And while 99% of the feedback and comments I received was how beautiful it was, I also got one of the nastiest, mean-spirited, hateful comments I’ve ever received in all my years of being online. (The person called me self-centered and spiteful and said I clearly hated my mother among other things — I thought of posting it but then I didn’t want to give her the attention she’s clearly craving.)
The comment took me aback, but maybe not how you’re thinking. What it did was cause me to re-think the current advice about what we say to ourselves and our friends when this happens to us. And here’s what I came up with:
- As mean and nasty as that comment was, it actually didn’t hurt me at all. Because I know without a shred of doubt it isn’t true. So, then I thought about all the comments that DID bother and hurt me over the years — and I realized that why those other comments bothered me was because something they were saying triggered something in me. That maybe there was a bit of truth in what they said or they were tapping into some old wound I had.
So, the more you stand in your power and confidence, and love and integrate the shadow sides of you, the less likely you’re going to be troubled by whatever anyone says to you.
- Of all the things I write about, why would my nastiest comment come when I was talking about the death of my mother? If it’s true that people attack you for being big, why didn’t I attract nasty comments when I write about ways to have a successful business or even when I talk about my own wins as a business owner?
The answer, I think, is people aren’t necessarily attacking you for being big — they’re attacking you because you triggered something in them. In this case, this woman had issues with her own mom (yes, that was in the comment too — I was self-centered and spiteful, her mother was selfish and spiteful — are you sensing a theme?) And, since this is online, she could lash out at me anonymously.
Okay — so mean people are being mean because they’re being triggered by something you said or did, and typically what hurts you is because something in their nastiness is triggering you back.
So what do we do about it?
First off, be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to feel bad. And it’s even okay to cry about it. What you DON’T want to do is stuff the feeling down and say things like “it doesn’t bother me, I don’t care” etc. If it bothers you, then let it bother you. Feel the feeling, icky and as horrible as it may be.
And, once you do, you’ll let it go.
You may also want to take super nice care of yourself — take yourself for a walk or treat yourself to a massage or a bath. Pamper yourself — that person was MEAN for NO REASON to you — you deserve to treat yourself.
Now, you may also want to take it one step further once you’re over feeling bad about it. (I wouldn’t suggest doing this when you’re still hurting). Take a look at why you were triggered. What wounded part of yourself did that nasty thing open up for you? What can you do to integrate that wound back into yourself so it no longer gets triggered?
If you can do that, then hateful things will simply roll off your back. Because you know they’re not true.
Oh, and if it helps — the next time you get a nasty comment, I give you permission to say to yourself “well at least this person didn’t call me self-centered and spiteful and say I hated my mother like what happened to Michele PW.” Come to think about it, maybe I’ll use that as my standard for any negative comment from now on “at least they didn’t say I hated my mom.”