It is a fact of life that when you put yourself out there you open yourself up to negativity. People are entitled to an opinion, but you’re also entitled not to listen to it, and you’re certainly entitled not to have to deal with a personal attack. It is also a sad fact of life that there are mean people out there.
Unfortunately on numerous occasions I’ve faced what has felt like a personal and at times, very public attack. Often gravitating towards choices I make as a runner, but sometimes picking upon my weight, how I look, the content I post. Luckily the list isn’t greatly extensive, and every negative comment has been matched with support. However sometimes I read things that hurt, things that target my friends and things that spiral into gravely concerning comments. This isn’t ok and there is no place in any community for bullying or racism.
One positive from these incidents is that it often gives you a chance to take stock, evaluate and find a best way forward. My recent experience of this also allowed me to find my voice for the first time ever. I managed to put a lot of my demons to rest.
So if you find yourself at the centre of trolling, bullying or unwelcomed attention here are just a few ways to deal with it:
Breathe. You’re bound to be upset. Take a moment to find some clarity. Cry it out if you need to. I get hysterically upset when I come across negativity. Having a cry gets the emotion out quicker and helps me move forward. It’s ok to cry, you aren’t wasting your tears and emotion, you’re purging your soul.
Reflect upon what you’re reading and seeing. Mentally challenge what is presented to you. Why does that person have that opinion? Is it really correct? How is it hurtful? What is the bigger issue? Decide how you move forward from this.
Remember you have the right to respond but also the right to remain silent. I’m a big fan of not giving bullies airtime. The more you dwell, the more you torment yourself over it and the more you share the negatitvity the more curiosity you generate and the more traction you give it. Don’t give whoever has upset you access to your circle. If you feel you need to respond- perhaps something hurts you deeply or you want to communicate a point then don’t give a knee jerk reaction. A wonderful friend of mine once gave me some excellent advice, type what you want to say in a note on your phone. Get it all out, then save it. Sleep on it or give it some time, then decide what you really want to post. Don’t fuel the fire, remember you are strong. Present your point in an eloquent, fair and clear manner. Remember that person is entitled to an opinion, as are you and they may not match, but when their opinion is compromising or that step too far it simply isn’t acceptable.
Don’t get sucked in. People spread negativity to spark a reaction. Be involved if you need to be but don’t allow them to wind you up. You’re probably already feeling emotional, don’t allow yourself to get more upset. Walking away is not weak. Go higher. Higher and higher.
Confide in someone you trust. Talking it through with a friend/ your partner is a massive help and I’m so grateful to those who have supported me when I have been hysterically upset. Return the support when needed.
Don’t be afraid to take action. Social media offers ways to report posts. Don’t be afraid to report something or someone. It is confidential. If someone is persistent block them.
Be kind. Negativity is hard to take. In my experience negativity stems from unhappiness, bad past experiences, insecurity or questions surrounding self worth. When it’s appropriate kill it with kindness. I couldn’t imagine having so much negativity in my heart, let alone having a wish to vocalise it- so pity the person who does. But this said, it is important to know when someone has crossed a line and use the appropriate means to report this (see above).
Turn the negatives into positives. Don’t like what you see or hear, take action! Find your voice and speak out. Share what has happened if you emotionally feel able to (but never name the bully or troll see my reasoning above). Others may be going through something similar in silence, you may make the difference to someone fighting abuse alone.
Positivity breeds positivity. Spread kindness like glitter. Support those who have been singled out in a positive and uplifting way. Or if you can move forward and go spread some good vibes that have nothing to do with what has happened.
Sometimes there is no reasoning with people. You have your opinion, they have theirs. Yes they may be wrong, but they won’t see it. Be proud that you can see why they are wrong. If the negativity is public many will draw their own opinions and quite often they will mirror yours.
Remember the storm will pass. You will get through this. Surround yourself with people who love and support you and seek advice or help where necessary. Keep being you, because you are AWESOME.
Much love and support to anyone who has gone through negativity, trolling or bullying whether that is online or IRL. Stay strong, my inbox is always open to anyone wanting any support. Lets lift each other up and spread the love.