I used to have a business called Dollar Workout Club, and my business partners and I would meet up every now and again for a few weeks and record workout videos for the business. It was a lot of work, but we made it fun. Years ago, I was at one of these recording sessions while my kids stayed with family. We’d record Snapchat videos and share our process on social media. One night, an anonymous person sent me a Snapchat with a blank black screen that just said something like, “You must be a great mom leaving your kids so you can “work” all the time.”
I remember that message so clearly. All I wanted to do was write that person an angry message about how hard it was to leave my kids, how much guilt I already had as a working mom, and how they had no right to assume anything about my life. But I didn’t. That is just one example of the negative messages people have sent me, and sometimes continue to send me, and what I’ve learned from it.
Don’t Spend Any Energy on Them
Sometimes the people who hurt us aren’t random anonymous people on the internet, sometimes they are people that we love. That makes it even more difficult to manage, but neither person is worth your energy. It can be so tempting to write out a big, long paragraph about how they hurt you and why their words are not okay. Unfortunately, that often fuels their fire. I’ve learned that it’s best to ignore them, block them, or walk away from them. The more energy I spend on them, the more power they take from me. On my social media, it’s my page my rules, so those people often get blocked. But I never give them a response other than the block button.
Instead of focusing on them, I focus on me. Why was I triggered by what they said? How can I work on myself to work through that trigger? Often, we feel most compelled to answer back to negative people when they hit an insecurity of ours. You can’t control them, you can only control you and your reaction to them. In the case of the anonymous Snapchat person, they did hit an insecurity of mine about leaving my kids. Instead of answering them, I worked harder to give myself more grace about working and being a mom.
Understanding that Hurt People Hurt People
In terms of people we love, or even the trolls on the internet, it can be helpful to remember that the people who hurt others, are often hurting the most. This can help to be more compassionate and to feel sorry for those people instead of feeling angry. However, it’s still possible to be compassionate while holding them accountable for their actions. You can still block them, avoid wasting any energy on them, or spend less time with them, while also feeling sorry for them. Be careful not to attach your self-worth to their words.
Not only do we tend to feel most triggered by our insecurities, hurt people often hurt the people who mirror their insecurities. Maybe the person who messaged me had their own issues about being a good parent, and decided to take that out on me. It wasn’t even about me at all, it was about them. Sometimes it can help to remove yourself from what they said completely. If you’re a happy and positive person, the negative people in your life may be threatened and jealous about your happiness. It’s not up to you to know what their insecurities are. Remember, the only thing you can control is your attitude and your effort.
It’s the hardest when the person hurting you is someone you love, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to be open with your communication when they are hurting you. If they are open to a discussion that’s great, but if not, there’s not a lot that you can control. Some people will come along for the ride and love you through it all, and some won’t. What’s most important is that you lean into the people that do.
You all know I love quotes! Here is one that helps me in these situations: It’s by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It’s easy to criticize those who are in the arena while you’re on the sidelines.
You’re in the arena.