How do you not let hateful comments affect you? The solution…

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been critical of people’s use of social media. (This is almost turning into a series!) From attention-seeking posts to the reliance on “likes” to feel good about life, it’s had two common responses: people calling me a jerk or people agreeing with me.

When people agree with me, it’s fun to read their complementing opinion. When people disagree with me, I’m called names and insulted. Those folks I don’t pay much attention to because they lose credibility since they can’t have a conversation or debate without making it personal.

I did, however, get a question from a reader and it made me pause for a moment.

“How do you not care what people think about you?” Liza asked. “You put some really strong opinions out there and it doesn’t bother you what people think. How do you not let it effect (sic) you?”

Being in the media for over 20 years, I’ve had people call for my firing, tell me my books suck (even though they’ve never read them), say my face “is the kind you just want to punch,” not to mention homophobic slurs and other personal attacks unrelated to whatever they’re reacting to. Nowadays, disagreeing with someone means you have to either mentally destroy them or shout louder so they give in and see things your way.

It doesn’t hurt my feelings if someone doesn’t like my book. It doesn’t hurt my feelings if someone has a different opinion about a world event. It doesn’t hurt my feelings if someone calls me a fag.

I know that the instant someone hurls an insult that they don’t have a strong enough argument about whatever the subject. So, they think they can hurt me by cutting me down. It doesn’t work. It never has.

Over 20 years ago, when I was pitching a column to newspapers across the country, one publisher at a small-town Alberta paper was so unimpressed with my random weekly commentaries that she replied, “You should probably consider a different career.”

That, of all responses, especially from someone in the industry, might’ve made me rethink my writing aspirations and consider an entirely different path. Instead, I took a moment and realized she didn’t say why she felt that way. Instead, she insulted my work and shut me down. I wasn’t expecting her to mentor me into a successful journalism career but some elaboration might’ve been helpful.

If she felt that strongly about my writing, she could’ve told me why – or at the very least, ignored me. Instead, it was her way of saying “unsubscribe” before that was a common email term.

It was a pivotal moment in how I reacted to things and why I chose not to allow words to hurt my feelings. People often say, “You make me feel…” but ultimately, we make ourselves feel. We choose to let words or actions affect our emotions. Am I a therapist or motivational speaker? Not at all. I just figured out how to take control and not give others that power over me.

I concluded that it wasn’t worth putting myself through emotional roller coasters and I needed to develop a thick skin to ensure my sanity.

My skin might still be soft and youthful at 41 years old but it’s hella thick, you best believe.

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