What is it about negativity that causes us to feel the urge to reciprocate in a similar way? If something (or someone) criticises, ridicules, hurts or judges us, we habitually respond with anger or negativity. Psychologically it's a defense mechanism intricately related to protection, domination, power, personal defense and sometimes revenge, yes. But can we not see that “an eye for an eye” will only leave the whole world blind? That “fighting fire with fire” only increases the devastation? And that responding to hurt or ridicule with more criticism or intended negativity will not help provide any helpful solution? No GOOD equilibrium is ever attained by two counter imbalances … only an unsteady sea-saw of agitation and fear, ready to tip at any moment.
This sort of response is not always a bad thing ... being hurt, upset, agitated or impacted by something is a universal sign that it holds meaning for you.
"It hurts because it mattered" - John Green.
Picture and Quote found on Tumblr
And those feelings are natural, normal, healthy. It is a sign you are alive and functioning… and able to feel. What can potentially be unhealthy is our need, or spontaneous desire to respond to these feelings in an equally harsh and devastating way. And it makes me increasingly curious as to how much of our linguistic response is the instinctual and innate response to fight back and how much is learned and modelled behaviour intended to protect our ego and reputation? Is it about power? Is it that drama brings us excitement? Or is it simply that we are not equipped with a useful or positive alternative; a rational solution?
What fuels our temptation to continue banter?
In my personal experience, I have found that no good and no closure is found by responding to negative people or comments. I used to be subject to cyber-bullying, and in retrospect I brought a lot of it upon myself … in that I engaged in the interaction because I thought I could reason with people. People will always have their opinions of you - accurate or not! Unfortunately, there will always be those people who try to bring you down, criticise, hurt you and intentionally seek ways to make you feel insignificant or inferior ...
This is not your fault, nor is it theirs.
I do firmly believe that someone’s publicly expressed opinion of you says more about their own character than it does about yours (both for negative comments AND compliments!!). Keep in mind, an individual’s negativity toward others is often sourced from the insecurities and personal demons within them - which no amount of self defense, criticism or reciprocated negativity by you will help mend. Remember, their comments or thoughts are more often than not, based on conceived ideas of you (not facts!) or jealousy. Which is unfortunately mostly understandable in today’s society as almost all interactions that are not face-to-face are had on social media sites - a place where only the best bits of peoples lives are represented and broadcasted, and more often than not this is a place where the individual aims at depicting their life as "picture perfect" ... sometimes portraying their life to be even better than it is. This can create unrealistic ideals and expectations, a part of the inevitability of today’s technology. And people know no different than what is shown. Your media presence can create a deceivingly realistic façade…
Of course there will be people who are envious - it's human nature to want what we don't have, to see things from our own paradigm only, and to think we know what we do not understand.
These people need not be feared or hated, but cared for and shown love. EVERYONE has a story. Maybe they just need someone to listen and understand theirs ...
Alternatively, ignore them. Refuse to respond to their petty attempts to aggravate and agitate you. Understand that fighting back will not prove or IMPROVE anything. Your response is only fuel to their fire. It's okay to be content with yourself sometimes and not have to explain or prove anything to others.
On social media sites, delete their comments, and feel free to block or remove those people from your profile.
I have found that this is the best way to remove that unnecessary criticism. I used to receive a lot of “hate” ... A few a day at different times in the last year or so. All from "anonymous" people. At first, this really got to me. I was so unsure about how people who didn't even know me could despise me so much ... And it made me really self conscious and doubtful.
I used to keep these messages and re-read them to myself often. I felt like I deserved their hate and criticism ... And wallowing in self pity seemed to help make me feel like the terrible person I was accused of being. I never really responded to the negativity, or if I did I ensured I replied in a very kind, understanding and polite manner … My Mum always told me that the minimum expected of me was common courtesy and good manners.
But then I received enough of it that IT began to lose its significance. These messages I was receiving were potentially all from the exact same person, going to extreme lengths to seem as if I had multiple haters. Then I realised that this person/people didn't even know me! Their comments shouldn't make me doubt myself! Instead I could take pride in knowing that they are blissfully unaware of my true character and therefore any of their thoughts and opinions were irrelevant or unsolidified! Their criticisms were empty words sourced from their own issues and doubts - not mine. I began deleting comments and blocking people. I'm not too sure exactly when it stopped, but it did, because I wasn't giving the haters what they wanted, I guess they became bored and left. Their attempts and energy was being wasted because their opinions no longer mattered.
It was also around this time that I began becoming truly firm and confident in who I was as a person. I knew what I was, what I wasn't, I knew my needs, wants, desires and dreams and I started to understand that other people’s opinions cannot hurt you if you are confident in yourself. The only opinions that matter are the ones of those who love you. And even if theirs are harsh, they will always be honest. It is these opinions that can motivate change, and that change will always be positive if it comes from a place of love!
One other thing I have noticed over the years, is that bullying tends to be empty. Their words and criticisms are often not based on a solid foundation.
Saying "you're a b#*ch" although it seems harsh, it holds minimal meaning.. Why am I a female dog? Have I hurt you? Have I said something mean? Done something wrong etc?
Because if I had, they would use a certain example or quote something I had actually said. Instead, their criticism is an empty phrase based on falsified judgement and jealousy. It's disappointing so many young people use the potential that technology and social media provides to ridicule, insult and BULLY (yes, it IS bullying. Just because you're "anonymous" or you were "joking" doesn't make it alright). But understanding WHY they choose to do so, can sometimes help in lessening the negative impact on ourselves and others.
A few things I find really helpful to do are:
1. Consider their reasoning - do they have motive or reason for seeming harsh, critical, rude or hurtful etc?
If yes, how are you going to change it? (I'd suggest honesty and a sincere apology. Being sure to recognise and point out that you can understand how your actions made them feel, that you regret your actions and are sorry for what you did/said. And then verbalise that you will not do it again. WHY you won't do it again. And more importantly, HOW you won't do it again. ie what you will do differently in the future.)
If no, celebrate with a little victory dance, knowing this person has no rational reason to feel the resentment they do towards you. This is not your own problem and the best way to deal with it is to ignore and delete it.
Note: There are times when we may disrespect or hurt someone unintentionally or without even recognising it. If this is the case, don't brush it off and avoid accepting fault simply because you "didn't mean to". And please don’t think it is alright to just point out that you are imperfect – that doesn’t fix anything. It is good to feel guilty when YOU have hurt someone, regardless of your intentions! Guilt motivates us to make amends and fix things – so telling yourself that being imperfect absolves you of responsibility doesn’t cut it. Feeling guilt, and following through to fix things is a learning process which means we won’t do those things again. So YOU owe them an apology and YOU need to recognise how and why your actions/thoughts did hurt them. This is the only way to ensure you won't do it again. It doesn't make you a bad person, it simply means that you made a mistake and are willing to take responsibility to mend it. Remorse shows you are a good person and that you value others.
2. Why do you feel negative? Try to deconstruct your emotions and slow them down. It's easy to respond instantaneously with reciprocated negativity - anyone can do it. But what shows true character is biting your tongue for a second, trying to pin point specific and different emotions you are feeling and then being truly honest with yourself and attempting to recognise WHY it makes you feel that way…
This is hard, very hard, to do correctly.
It requires the complete disposal of your ego. It's about searching for the true source of your emotions whether it be jealousy, love, resentment, grief, insecurity, sense of false honesty, protection, desperation etc. this also means not only what is said needs to be thoroughly analysed, but also who said it and how or why that may change your interpretation of it.
3. Self worth is not defined by external influences. Its name says it all - aim at minimising or reducing the amount of value you place on OTHER people’s opinions of you. Self worth should require no validation from external sources; it's about knowing who you are - having your morals, values, thoughts and behaviours aligned in such synchronicity that you are calm, confident and at ease with who you are. For some, this may take an entire lifetime to attain, for others only a few years - it's all very individually determined and unpredictable. Whether you reach this or not is not the point; it's about continuously progressing, developing, learning and growing so you are always becoming one step closer… It's the journey not the destination!
4. Treat others better than they have treated you.
The difference between treating others negatively as revenge and treating them with respect, kindness and politeness as a response only differs in the larger outcome. Your response, whether it be the most incredibly heartfelt, caring and understanding reply, or an equally hurtful message, will both cause hurt and confusion on some level or another. But what really matters is that by responding positively, kindly and appropriately, you are making a small but essential change to this world. If everyone was to treat others kinder than they are treated and to be nicer to the world than it is to them, then soon enough this world will only be kindness and love ... Instead of being so self absorbed and eternally seeking revenge or believing we are "owed" something, we could simply give and give and give regardless of what is being taken from us, and then reap the larger benefits it would provide not only to ourselves, but to those surrounding us and the entire world.
That's my challenge to you;
"… treat the world better than it treated you"
- Patrick Stump
Love and light,