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How to deal with negativity

July 22, 2015

This post is a mash-up of some thoughts I have been having for awhile now on the subject on negativity. Negativity can come in any form. It can be online, through social media, in person, or through your own thoughts and feelings. I think with the internet and social media exploding in this day and age, we have had to deal with a lot more of it than ever via trolls, keyboard warriors etc. People hide behind their computer screen in the safety of their bedroom and say things they would never dream of saying to your face in person. It’s ridiculous really, when you think about it in that way.

I have had my share of negativity and criticism comes my way, and I’ve seen it happen to many others as well. It’s really easy to get sucked into it and let it affect us. But in doing this, we are taking precious energy away from other important things we could be focusing on and doing, and wasting it on useless negative thoughts.

Here are some of my thoughts on negativity and what I’ve been learning personally on how to cope with it when it is directed towards me. I try to remind myself of these things when I am feeling negative or dealing with negativity, and it helps to put things into perspective for me.

The bigger game you play, the more criticism you’ll receive

This is my first point. I have noticed that the more you put yourself out there and take a stand for what you believe in, write, create and showcase yourself in public, regardless of what you are doing or posting, the more people will come out of nowhere and try to tear you down. But you have got to get used to it if you want to get off the sidewalks and do something big.

Who are you going to listen to?

This is something that I recently realised and it was a bit of a "lightbulb" moment for me. When I stopped to think about it, I’ve never received negative criticism from someone who is actually out there doing something big with their life. Most successful people are too busy creating things and actually living their lives to have time to sit there and harshly judge you. The people who are the harshest critics are cowards. They are the bystanders on the side of life who create nothing and do nothing. So why would we ever listen to them?

Always take the high road

This is a big one. I’ve realised I can’t be a hypocrite by criticising others for being negative when I partake in some of it myself. Instead, I need to take the high road. This has been an important lesson for me since working in the fitness industry especially. Many times I see fitness professionals getting into big unnecessary tit-for-tat debates, putting down their peers to make themselves look better, when in reality it just makes them look bad. I decided to stop arguing with others online, trying to prove points, prove that they are wrong in their methods etc., just because it accomplishes nothing. If someone is not open to seeing another point of view and their mind is made up, you won’t be able to convince them anyway and there’s really no point trying. Not to mention constant useless arguing takes away from your credibility/professionalism and makes you and the industry as a whole look bad. Negativity just breeds more negativity.

Most criticism is irrelevant.

Not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism helps you grow. But I have found that the people that know you and support you will offer constructive criticism in private. Most public criticism is not constructive; it’s just someone’s opinion. Their opinion does not necessarily make it valid. As for people who don’t even know you and often you criticism online in public, it’s clear they have way too much time on their hands and they aren’t creating anything positive for themselves or others by criticising you. So what is the point of paying any attention to it?

Don’t give away your power

This is more of a mental/attitude tip. Any time some nasty negativity comes your way just say to yourself “You cannot take me down. I will not give you my power.” People can say whatever they want, but you can just let it wash right off you. You don’t have to take it in and you don’t have to let it ruin your day. It’s so easy for people to point out faults, especially judgmental critics who could never do what you do better or create what you have created better. They are just negative, toxic people. But don’t let them get to you. Don’t let them have that power over you, knowing that they brought you down.

Again, I am not referring to constructive criticism, which is a completely different ballgame. It often comes down to someone’s motive. If someone is genuinely looking out for you, wishing you well and wanting to help you, this attitude will be very apparent in their criticism, even if its sometimes still hard to take, you can usually know if someone is telling you for your own good or because they think it will benefit you. It comes across pretty clearly. On the other hand if someone is just being a hater, or has jealous, insecure, negative motives, this is very easy to notice as well. This often comes down to private criticism vs. public criticism as well as I mentioned above. There is a big difference.

Be positive and secure in yourself

Here is something I read by Jill Coleman which resonated with me and I wanted to post it here as well as it fits in nicely with the rest of my post.

"When I get negative, I am allowing my own choices about how I will feel in this moment (negative) convince me that I can’t make a difference. That my actions don’t matter. That I’m screwed regardless of what I do. And I don’t know about you, but putting myself in a position where “it’s all bad” and I have no options is absolutely miserable. It makes me feel helpless, stuck and like the world is out to get me. But! When I act from a place of positivity, looking for the bright spots in situations and being genuinely happy with what I’m working toward, I don’t need to put anyone else down. I’m grateful for what I’ve got–both the good and the bad–and that’s a place of power. That’s a place of openness and wishing other people the best, and giving others the benefit of the doubt, and not taking things personally, and not making assumptions, and being genuinely happy for others’ successes. It’s an empowered place. It’s a stress-free place. It feels good in that place. I feel equipped in that place. When I am secure in my stuff, I don’t need to compare or stress about what other people are saying or doing because I’M DOING WHAT I NEED TO DO FOR ME, regardless of what people around me are doing. It’s beautiful. When I’m secure, I wish other people the best because I realize that others’ successes have zero impact on my own success. I don’t feel threatened by what other people are doing or their successes because those have nothing to do with me. Other people’s successes don’t make my own any less likely or my contributions any less important or impactful. I realize that there’s enough money, success and happiness to go around."

Don’t take things personally

…Even if someone makes it personal. When someone pulls out the personal attacks, it’s usually about them and their own insecurities. We also don’t have to believe every negative thing we hear about ourselves, which can often be our default choice. Choosing to feel unworthy or not good enough is just that…a choice we make ourselves.

Criticism comes with creativity.

Lastly, if you want to avoid criticism, say nothing, be nothing, do nothing. Creating and putting yourself out there is always going to attract some criticism. That’s part of the game and the risk you have got to be willing to take.

I’m finishing up with one of my favourite Teddy Rooselvelt quote:

“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.”




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