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November 10, 2020 11 Comments
I've written about dealing with negativity before (see link). So why am I writing about it again?
Well... you can probably guess how negative comments affect the human psyche. Imagine posting a video or picture on YouTube or Facebook and generating thousands of views. Naturally, comments will arrive. Ninety percent will love what you do, what you have to say, and ten percent will beat you up. No matter how clever you are or how perfectly structured every thought is, you will still get a percentage that beat you up. Even as we speak I hear the critics' voices pulling apart my grammar, spelling, or thought sequences. Pulling apart the title picture I chose and so on. To say we shouldn't have critics isn't necessary. To say you should have a thicker skin isn't necessary either. What's important is to be real, be the best version of yourself in public and let the critics say what they will, then seek to understand ourselves better.
Here's what modern social science tells us. We all have a negative bias. It's a simple survival instinct. Negative bias means: If nine out of ten people love me and one hates me, then I'll gravitate to trying to understand the hateful person, almost completely forgetting the other nine people. On one hand, seeing the negative helps me grow and understand my communication better. But on the other hand it can spiral me into depression. Anybody who's spent time on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, or any other social platform will attest to the same feelings. If you dive into the comment section of your posts, you're opening up to your own negative bias and the harm that can be generated as a result.
So here is what I've learned about myself related to all this. Maybe it will help you too.
If I read the comments, inevitably I'll find a critic. Its helps to identify the person behind the poison. Sometimes the critic is actually a competitor. For instance, one critic on YouTube blasted my liberty video and added links to better ways to do liberty. I followed the link out of curiosity and guess what I found... His own training video! Right then I knew I had found someone whos own insecurities led him to beat up on other trainers in hopes of generating his own business. His video was actually pretty good, but his practice in finding clients was sad to see. However for me, understanding his situation softened my experience about his criticism. He didn't hate me, he was just competing for business. "Business is business," as they say, "try not to take it all too personal."
Other times, the critic has nothing to do with business. It could be someone just finding that one thing to direct their own turmoil at. Someone venting, and it just so happens to be directed at you, but in reality has nothing to do with you. I imagine that I've inadvertently triggered something in that person, something that already existed, some pain, some hurt. Instead of feeling horrible for how they reacted to my post, I try to feel sympathy for how much pain they are in, not related to me at all. From this perspective, I identify the critic as a wounded person, and once again. I take it less personal. At least, most of the time. :)
If I read the comments for too long, my own negative bias clicks in and I find myself only seeing the negative comments. I know myself well enough by now to limit my time spent on comment reading. I genuinely want to read comments to find where people might need help and strive to support them, but if I read for more than about ten minutes, I start diving into the negative. I start taking it personally. Because I know this about myself, I can stop myself before it's too late. You might have shorter, or longer limits than I do. If you have no limit, or if you go straight to the negative and straight to taking things personal. I recommend not reading comments at all until you get a handle on your own insecurities with the help of a coach or mentor. You should still post and add value. You have value to add! But be careful not to read the comments. It can do more harm than good. Imagine if you had something special to share and you didn't share it because you were afraid of the comments, of what happened last time, that would be a tragedy in my eyes.
3. Understand deeper thinking
Sometimes I forget that negativity is real. It's genuine. It's visceral. Like most people I know, we don't tend to like pain. But when I remember that pain is also real and genuine, even necessary for growth, I tend to stop reacting with too much intensity when I see negativity show up. I have to have a clear head to think that way, but in fact, I don't want to be numb to life. I don't want to live in a fantasy world without taste, touch, prickly things, and hot or cold. Those things make me feel alive. What I'm saying is, I don't think having only positive comments show up on every post is realistic to hope for. I think to really live, you have to experience that hot and the cold. This double sided experience adds perspective and vibrancy to our world. I'm not saying I like it. I'm saying it's real. It's normal. It means I'm alive and feeling, which always beats the alternative.
4. End on a good note
If I read comments, no matter how many negative comments I inadvertently see, I'll always make sure I read at least three positive comments before I click away from the post. I'll literally hunt down three or more exceptional comments and process those, rolling the words back and forth between my ears and eyes in that magical grey goo inside my head until I feel confident I'm not alone in the world and I clearly have value to add. Then I click away being sure not to spot any negative comments on the way out. By doing this, ending on a good note, I'm ensuring my own negative bias isn't the last thing I think about. Maybe it could help you too.
There is more, so much more. But in this case, less is more. Keep it simple and stay positive.
I want your comments below. Please add them. If you need help, ask a question. If you want to vent, go ahead, you have my permission, I'll live. I won't take it too personal. Like my mother always said, fight anger with laughter, not anger.
Thanks for reading, comment and share below.