How to Learn, Grow, & Thrive in the Face of Negativity

Not long ago, a friend reached out to me because she was dealing with “haters.” Ugh.

My friend is wildly successful both professionally and personally. She has an amazing career, a loving family, and a beautiful home. And while her life is far from perfect, she is a good person and good at what she does … and life has rewarded her in kind.

So yeah … she’s a prime target for haters.

Now, you may think “hater” is a strong word … but it’s accurate. Haters are what I call people who simply cannot be happy for another’s successes, be they professional or personal. (And I’ve known a few!)

What’s the Point of Hating?

I’ve never really understood haters. Me? I’ve always chosen to surround myself with people who are better than I am.

I wanted to teach next door to the very best teacher in the school. I want to run with people who are faster than I am. I want to be mentored by others who are stronger, braver, and wildly more successful than I am. I don’t have feelings of inferiority around them. I want to be a part of their energy; their talents are a gift to me.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that not everyone shares my viewpoint. Some people simply do not want to be around individuals who are better than they are. They feel threatened by those they view as smarter, stronger, braver, or more talented.

Being Human or Being a Hater

There’s not a person among us who hasn’t felt envious of others. (I’ve certainly experienced it.) We might compare ourselves, our houses, our cars, our families, our paychecks. And sometimes we even act in unkind ways.

But there is a difference between being a hater and being human. Haters are almost always unkind, and they will tap dance on any failure or weakness you might have. They sit on the sidelines (because you rarely find them in the arena playing the game), hoping to bring you down so they can feel better about themselves.

And here’s the thing: The more you expose who you really are, the more successes you achieve—the more those bloody-thirsty haters will come after you.

Most of the time, people who feel the need to do this are stuck in the muck and mire of their own misery. They “act out” to deflect from their own struggles. Just by being in your energy field, they feel less. And their quick defensive move is to strike out at you to make themselves feel better.

As hard and hurtful as it is to hear negative things, the important thing is to not get sucked into a hater’s game.

How To Protect Yourself from the Haters

In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, author Don Miquel Ruiz very plainly says: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

“Nothing others do is because of you and what others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream,” he writes. “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

Of course, some people’s opinions do matter. For example, those of my close family members and friends, whom I respect and whom I know value and love me. Sometimes you need another person’s perspective in order to grow—as long as that perspective is delivered in a loving way with good intentions.

And then there are those opinions you must tuck away in their proper place. In the past, I’ve allowed others’ negativity toward me to determine how I feel about myself. I’ve even let others decide my self-worth. But I have grown and am still growing, and I’ve learned that others’ treatment of me is usually about them and has nothing to do with me.

Be Grateful for the Experience—Positive and Negative

For me, part of learning to deal with haters was recognizing that I could (and should) feel gratitude for some of these negative experiences. It was these experiences that propelled me to reach for more and to grow. Even though that growth was sometimes painful at first.

Every experience—positive and negative—can be meaningful in shaping our lives. I believe that each experience appears before us to teach us more about ourselves, and sometimes it’s exactly what we needed to happen to get us where we wanted to go in the first place.

I want to live a life that includes all kinds of experiences … disappointments and accomplishments, sadness and joys, failures and successes!

What I’m finally coming to understand is that I’m simply not interested in the haters anymore. They don’t get to define what I know about who I am, my inner core and the soul of what makes me ME. I value myself—and that’s what truly matters.

At the end of the day, I get to choose who I am just like you do. You get to choose if you will allow the words and actions of others to affect you and your destiny.

And doesn’t it feel good to know you have that choice?

P.S. Ya know what helps when the haters are getting to me? My spunky dog, Joyful George! If you don’t have a furry friend of your own, enjoy this pic of George … I promise no one can feel down when they see this sweet face!

Irish setter dog in yard

SHARE YOUR STORY: Have you ever encountered a hater in our personal or professional life? What did you do to overcome the negativity? And what did you learn from the experience? Share in the comments below, or join us on Facebook or Twitter.