We’ve all got haters. That ex-boyfriend that badmouths you to others? That teacher that went full Snape on you? So-called critics that are clearly not trying to help you? Yup, we’ve all got haters, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They’re the people who talk crap about you, backstab you, doubt you or say that you “just can’t make it”. Sometimes they will even try their best to sabotage you.
In this post I don’t want to focus on the sorts of haters that we all have, those casual acquaintances that have wronged us for no apparent reason and without remorse. In this post I want to talk about the truly important haters, those that we can all use for our own benefit, and the special place we should consider for them.
Let me tell you the story of Dave (not his real name, the dude’s even changed his name in real life). Dave was the sort of person who was never happy in his own skin, and who never really had close friends. As soon as we graduated highschool, Dave was nowhere to be seen: he didn’t apply for college, he didn’t have a job, and he hadn’t any new relationships to be around with.
The reality was that Dave had some issues he needed to work out first. At the time, he had already accepted his homosexuality, but he hadn’t come out to his family or any of his friends. His parent’s marriage was also falling apart, and it turned out that his father had been having an affair since years past and had a second family and a second home. When Dave finally came out as gay, his mother (a psychologist), tried to get him some counseling sessions, and his father basically disappeared from his life, telling Dave that he had always been a loser and a good for nothing. I think his brother was accepting and understanding, because they have kept a good relationship even when living in the opposite sides of the planet.
At this horrible moment, when he was at the lowest point in his life, Dave finally got the push he needed to move forward. Rather than take his father’s words as truth and as confirmation of his own self-doubt, Dave fought back, though not in the literal sense. Getting a job was out of the question, but Dave figured that he had to try life someplace else. While the rest of us were reaching the midpoint of our college, Dave decided to try his luck at college in a different country.
To make a long story short, he got accepted and earned his degree (I still wonder how he paid for the experience, to be honest). When he returned, however, although he was well received, he truly wasn’t welcome. After a couple of years of trying to reconnect with his dad, not actually trying to get a job and constantly visiting his mom, Dave finally decided that he had more in common with the country he went to college in than with his home country. This time, he would be leaving for good, he would get his master’s degree, get a job there and try to start a new life. From the little contact I’ve kept with him since then, Dave is just about to get his MS (again, I have no idea how he has paid for any of it), and has begun his job search. He still isn’t out of the woods yet, but I hope that he will be successful.
If you could hear Dave tell his own story, you would feel his sadness and pain when his father decided to cut him out of his life. A similar thing could be said about the betrayal he felt when his mother attempted to get someone to convince him that he wasn’t actually gay. I won’t deny that they gave him a good head start in life: a good education, a home, good clothes and the chance to engage in hobbies. Still, they couldn’t accept him for who he was.
I’m not trying to make the point that Dave’s parents were his haters. I do, however, want to make the point that it was the pain that they caused him, rather than their love and care, that pushed him to try to achieve something.
How often have you faced a similar situation? When someone you care about puts you down? I propose to you that, instead of just taking the hit and later soothing the pain, you use that experience to push yourself forward. Show your haters, detractors, however you want to call them, how wrong they were in their judgement. Just as love can motivate us to achieve great things, pain, either physical or emotional, can help us make our dreams real.
I know what you may be thinking: that’s all well and good, but talk is cheap. How would YOU put that into practice? That’s a fair question, and I propose the following method to keep in mind whenever you have to deal with your haters:
- Question the claim. Are you a failure just because someone you trust says so? What if they are just having a bad day and they give you a hard time because of it? What if they don’t really want the best for you? No, rather than accept or deny what they say, do your best to question it: have you truly achieved nothing? Do you have evidence that can challenge their claim? Science is so successful because it’s method works, so why not use the scientific method in your daily life?
- Whatever your current state, you have a duty to yourself to be happy. Indeed, whether you’re going through hell or you enjoy a picture perfect life right now, the reality is that our duty is to be as happy as possible. What happiness means to you is for you to define, I’m afraid.
- Remember that nothing lasts forever. Whatever success or failure you’ve had, the wheel of fortune will turn. Life is so ephemeral that willingly being miserable is a waste of time, try your best to focus on or do the things that bring you joy and make life beautiful.
- Sometimes action generates motivation and inspiration. One of the worst things you can experience is the feeling of being stuck in a rut, static, moving nowhere. Part of what gets people into that feeling is not knowing what to do. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do next, but by doing anything (sometimes even unrelated stuff) we can get the ball rolling and realize what needs to be done. In that way, we can slowly come up with a series of actions that will bring us closer to our goals, even if we’re making them up as we go along.
- Haters gonna hate. No matter what you do, you’ll eventually have to deal with someone who’ll give you a hard time just because they can. As frustrating as those experiences are, rather than dwell on the experience itself, focus on what will come later once you are done with it. This is useful for a whole lot of other situations: don’t feel like going to the gym? Try thinking about how satisfied you’ll be when you hit your next PR or how good the sauna will fill like.
I hope that this post has given you some tools to deal with the haters in your life.
See you next week!