Updated: Mar 29
Let's face it, 'putting yourself out there' is terrifying.
You feel so exposed and vulnerable, you might was well be standing naked in a parking lot where everyone can point at your jiggly bits and judge you for not shaving your arm-pits.
Putting yourself out there, hurling yourself headlong into a world of unknowns is downright scary. There are any number of thoughts that go through your head when you're about to hit the 'publish' or 'share' button. Included in the never-ending list are, "What if no-one reads this?" and "What if people read it and think it's utter crap?", and "What if people think I don't know what I'm talking about?", and the list goes on. But perhaps the biggest fear of all is "What do I do if someone hates on me?". You know, that terrifying onslaught of public criticism where someone openly contradicts, down-cries, naysays, pokes holes, and basically goes for your jugular. What do you do then?
Well, once you've allowed that tiny explosive feeling in your solar plexus to subside, and once the energetic sobbing has passed, you can high-five yourself for being genuine and real enough to write or say something that caused a powerful emotional response in someone. So emotional in fact, that they felt the need to 'attack' you on whichever forum you published. For some, the first public attack can be enough to send them scuttling back into a hole with a security blanket and a year's supply of Dairy Milk. For others, it's cause for celebration.
So what's the difference?
You'll hear me say this a million times: It's how you choose to view the situation that makes the difference. You have a choice. You can take the criticism to mean that you're an idiot who can't write or speak and who knows nothing. As I've yet to come across a case where that's true, I'll suggest you make a different choice. Choose to view the criticism as your having touched a nerve in your assailant. People react emotionally only when your words highlight something they they don't like about themselves. When they react vehemently, it's because they feel exposed, vulnerable, and called out. They get upset and angry simply because you've flagged something they'd rather not have flagged. When you hold up a metaphorical mirror, people are forced to look at themselves and they don't always like what they see. Some of those people will hire you to help them, and others will launch a personal attack. Either way, I'm suggesting your response be compassionate and kind.
Whether people reach out to you for help or hate on you, you can be safe in the knowledge that you're onto something. Learn about your haters: What do they have in common, how are their comments similar? Analyze their words and sentiments and find the common threads. Then write or speak about them. Your haters are doing you a huge favour by giving you valuable pointers on how best to help them and many others like them.
People will often blindly agree with you because it's easy. But it takes real effort to disagree. It's easy to be nice. It's much harder to be contrary. Learn from your haters. Soak up their wisdom and use it to dive deeper into issues that poke at people's souls. To help people, to truly help them, you have to risk making them and you uncomfortable.
Your haters don't hate you. They hold an intense dislike for something about themselves. Avoid investing your self-esteem in their words and instead use the opportunity to hold up the metaphorical mirror that helps them to heal. That is true compassion.
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