“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Emerson
I admit it. I am a devoted dreamer, am annoyingly optimistic and possess an unrelenting aspiration to make a difference in the world. To put it simply: I’m a lover, not a fighter.
Despite being a positive person with a goal to inspire others, I doubt myself sometimes because of negative statements others say about me. My beloved Emerson was being extremely generous when he called these people ‘critics’; the vitriol the online public espouses about me is brutal. I’ve been told I suck, have no talent whatsoever and have made people vomit (or want to). They’ve called me a New Age fruit loop, a belly dancing Barbie doll and actually claimed that I have single-handedly destroyed belly dance (an ancient dance form dating back 25,000 years!) Reading negative comments written online about my DVDs, my TV appearances, my philosophy and my very existence do hurt me. But worse than injure my feelings, their negativity has caused me to experience uncertainty about my mission in life. I want to empower other women. I desire to make all women: young and old, happy or depressed, rich or poor, heavy or skinny, white or brown, be inspired to know that they are capable of doing anything! This is my raison d’être, my reason for being. And along this path, I do make a difference in women’s lives. However, I get it: some people are going to hate me. They want me to shut up, quit dancing and stop existing. And these people I speak of are just the unknown, faceless haters (but you know who you are!)
Those aforementioned are simply the amateurs. Now, bring on the heavy hitters: family, friends, co-workers, peers, business acquaintances and romances. When these loved ones tell me that my blogposts are idiotic, the costume I just designed is ugly, that if I pursue a creative endeavor that I will make a total fool of myself or making a business deal will result in irrefutable failure, mere doubts turn into paralyzing fear. Now these people have my best interests at heart (or so they tell me). They are not like the faceless online haters that most certainly want to see me fail. But pessimism can create a crack in any dream, no matter who the messenger may be.
Honestly, in the past (and not-so-distant past), these cynical comments and disapproving influences have rendered me to want to pull the covers over my head, quit dancing, give up dreaming and stop daring. But I never have and never will. And neither should YOU!
Because our dreams make a difference. AND positively making a difference in a single person’s life matters so much more than trying to capitulate and please negative people. Even & especially if the life you are making a difference in is YOURS!
I know it’s not easy to take the bitter with the better, so here are some practical steps I’ve learned over the years to remain positive in the face of negative people:
10 ways to remain positive in the face of negative people
1) Wait a minute…
Sometimes I feel compelled to instantly respond to defend myself – such as sending an email. I’ve learned that emotionally charged emails never get me the result I want; they only add fuel to the fire. What is helpful is inserting time to allow me to cool off. I find that it is helpful to write the emotionally charged email to the person to vent, but I don’t click send (& I make sure to delete their email address). After I have written the letter, I usually don’t have the desire to respond the same emotionally charged way.
2) Go for a walk
… or dance or some other workout. Physical exercise is my answer to almost any problem. What could possibly bother me if I just danced to the song, “Born to be Wild”?
3) Pour Honey
I get more bees with honey. I will compliment the woman at the DMV for being so helpful and any admiring remark that I genuinely feel. I will try to make her laugh and bring some levity to the situation. Positivity is contagious. And with some honey…everyone is sweeter!
4) Focus on the positive
Strange how we can receive 10 compliments, but it’s that one negative comment that will get under our skin. We give the negative so much more power simply by focusing on it. Write all the compliments down and post them where you can see them…do whatever you have to do, but focus on the positive only.
5) Worst Case Scenario
I often ask myself, “What is the worst case scenario?” I know that the worst-case scenario usually does not occur, but the moment I utter aloud the nastiest situation possible, I remove my deep-rooted fear that I could not handle the worst possible circumstances.
6) "Does it really matter if I am right?"
Sometimes I respond with the intention of defending myself because I simply want to be right. I’m being childish, really. In most situations, I know it matters very little if I am right. I can name the circumstances on one hand that matter if I am right.
7) What you feed grows
When I have a problem or a conflict in my life, I can always find someone to gossip about it with. But, what you feed grows, and it can grow out of control. So unless I am talking about it with a friend or professional with the intention of finding a solution, I stop talking or even thinking about it.
No situation is ever lost if I can take away from it some lessons that will help me grow and become a better person. Regardless of how negative a scenario may appear, there is always a hidden gift in the form of a lesson. I always try to find the lesson(s).
9) Choose to Eliminate Negative People In Your Life
Negative people are like vampires. They suck the very life energy out of me. Deeply unhappy people will want to bring me down emotionally, so that they are not down there alone. I am aware of this. I do my best to lift them up to my level, but if they are not willing, then I must cut them out by avoiding interactions with them as much as possible. If I absolutely cannot eliminate them from my life, then, I will try to exercise 1-8 and keep them emotionally at a distance.
10) Surround yourself with people that believe in your dreams
It might be difficult to change the mind of your Aunt Edna or your childhood friends that will always remember you as you were when you were a kid, but the great thing about being a grown-up is: you can choose to surround yourself with whoever you desire! That doesn’t mean your friends can’t ever give you helpful advice or even say “no” from time to time, but ultimately you know in your heart that they believe in your dreams.
Trust me when I tell you that the more you choose to live your dreams, be positive and inspire yourself and others – the more you will attract the same kindred spirits. Also, you might find that some of those people you thought were negative to the bone, just needed a little of your own personal brand of joie de vivre to turn their own melancholia into happiness. There will always be those negative people out there trying to bring you down…but so what? What are they doing while you are putting your heart and soul out there? If you stick your head above a crowd, someone's bound to throw a tomato. And remember that you have the choice to being surrounded by people who have the qualities you admire: optimistic, positive, peaceful and encouraging people. And whatever you do, don’t stop believing!