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Why You Need to Embrace the Haters

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.59.28 PMNot too long ago, haters were the domain of the rich and famous — or at least, anyone with a sizable platform. In fact, it was basically a celebrity tax: you want attention, get ready for vitriol.

But now it very much is our problem. Because now we all want attention, and, thanks to the astonishingly infinite reach of every post or picture, we can all get it. Each one of us, whether we have 25 blood-related Facebook friends or 100,000 Twitter followers, is a publisher, producer and personality in our own right. And no matter what you want to say, or share, or do, even if it’s positively saintly in its mission and intention, you are in a position to be snarked at. And you probably will be.

One thing I do is teach talent how to scale their personal media brands — and fear of haters often holds them back. They don’t want to offend; they want people to like them. They’re afraid of critics. And yet, what I tell them is what I’ll tell you right now: Embrace the haters.

I’m not saying you have to like them, but you have to accept them as part of the landscape, which they most certainly are. Because if what you want is large-scale, media success, you’re going to have them. In fact, they can be a sign that you’re doing something right! Because you’re hitting a nerve.

I also realize not everyone wants that much attention or to be a huge star. I get it. But if you do want to make a big splash in your own pond or even rise up through the ranks where you work, again, you’re going to have people who seem to work against you. Online and off.

Fact is, no one is immune to haters — not a movie star, not a Nobel peace prize winner, not your stable older sister and not you. Feedback is one thing, and by definition should come from some qualified source. But entertaining endless snarky, antagonistic or passive aggressive barbs is another. You’ve got to build resilience by expecting it and ignoring as much of it as you can.

For my part, I rarely read the comments section on anything I write, even this one. I’ll glance sometimes, but as soon as things get ugly, I click away. It’s just not worth getting sucked down that rabbit hole.

I give my writer friends the same advice, whenever they feel the urge to jump into the mud pit, dukes up, ready to defend their work. I say: Does Cate Blanchett stand outside some podunk movie theater and defend, or debate, the merits of “Blue Jasmine” (and she got plenty of hate for being in a Woody Allen film to begin with)? Nope. So you don’t need to defend your work, either.

Of course, you care for a reason: You’re wired to. It’s not a weakness; it’s part of being human.

We are mammals who thrive in groups. And so that innate fear of offending, alienating or even just ticking someone off trips a kind of evolutionary alarm that makes us afraid we could be ousted. This is very, very layman science, mind you, but I’d venture to say it’s why we hunger for praise, attention and recognition — and why a whiff of sharp criticism can knock us off our feet. And, arguably, why I walked around my high school in LL Bean knockoff mocassins from Macy’s worrying that I would be found out, and sometimes still do.

The Age of the Troll

Internet trolls are a fairly recent iteration of an ugly human urge: To tear down someone else just because you can. And while we can complain about Youtube and Twitter, the social media landscape didn’t invent the tendency; it simply gave us a borderless playground on which to enact it. But you’ll find plenty of haters in real life, too. Here’s what to keep in mind when facing down four of the most common kinds of haters:

1. The Cynic

She may be a friend from high school whom you only barely granted FB access, and you have lived to regret it. Or she may share your workspace. Either way, this person loves to pinprick every balloon of joy, hope or optimism you float.

She’s the first one to tell you it’s supposed to rain the day you’re going to the beach or to write “must be nice” when you post a picture of a lovely candle-lit dinner. You know why she does it: She’s deeply unhappy and unable to let anyone be happy, either. She’s likely endured some serious disappointment or setback, or just a general, decades long malaise. The worst part is that she thinks she’s wise, or funny, or both. She’s not.

How to handle it: This depends, frankly, on what kind of relationship you want or need to have. If this person is part of your everyday life and it behooves you to keep things on the up, it’s worth killing her with kindness, if just to neutralize some of the acidity. I’ve found what works for these people isn’t trying to out-cynic them (never works). Instead, when the cynic burps up another bit of soggy commentary, shift gears completely: Inquire about something that you know matters to her — her dog, her mother, whatever.

Authentic connection, stripped of any irony or snark, is the best way to prune that discussion. As for cynical FB comments? Skip them. Don’t get into a cynical warfare. If you want to be a little bit passive aggressive yourself, you could like every comment to that post but hers. But maybe that’s just me.

2. The Green-Eyed Monster

The day you came home crying from school, your mother said that that girl was simply jealous of you. And you didn’t believe her. But she was right. In fact, you probably still have a hard time believing anyone could be intimidated by or wish they were you. But trust me, someone is, and does. And that person has locked onto you as her competition. This can mean a weird vibe, cold shoulder, or even some not-so-nice stuff said behind your back. It’s really not about you; it’s about her own insecurities. However, you still feel the effects.

How to handle it: Online, this is usually not a problem, because jealous frenemies don’t tell you what they think of you; they tell other people. Or they just observe, quietly. But in person, well, the weird vibe is uncomfortable. As a result, you tend to avoid this person. I say, do the opposite. Hone in. Be interested. And ask for help.

I once worked with a woman who needed to one-up me all the time. Granted, she’d been in the department first, and I was the newbie, so she had some innate need to guard her territory. If I tried to offer her any kind of help or information, I got an, “I know that already.” I felt like I couldn’t win, and I realized I was going about it all wrong.

So I did the opposite: I went to her for help. And the day I did, the tenor of our relationship changed. Once she was affirmed in her role as “in the know,” which was important to her, she went out of her way to help me. I was no longer a threat in her eyes and the tension dissolved. It doesn’t matter if it was true; our relationship improved and we ended up becoming friends. Once that fear was gone, she could be herself and so could I.

3. The Noodge

Look, this person is harmless. But her comments always drive you up the wall. She takes issue with whatever you post, she gets everyone riled up so that your simple commentary on a recent news story about school uniforms turns into a whole big Facebook pile-on. Why is she doing this? Does she hate you? Because why else would she suck so much time and energy for no good reason? I’ll tell you why: Because she’s bored and your posts are irresistible low-hanging fruit.

As with the Cynic, it’s less about you than it is about her against the world, and right now, that means you. Whereas the Cynic believes she’s world weary and wise, the Noodge may at turns be morally superior, easily offended or both. She’s not so much popping your balloon as she is making an example of you and “all that you represent.” And it’s worth adding that she may very well be a Green Eyed Monster, masquerading as a Noodge. In fact, the only thing that separates a Noodge from a Full-On Troll is that she’s not malicious. She’s all bark, no bite.

How to handle it: Try to resist her Facebook bait. She’s trying to lure you into a thing to scratch an itch; if you give in, she wins. Fact is, even if you can resist her Facebook bait, your friends may not be able to, and as with any party that breaks out in your house, you’re at least partly responsible for making sure nothing gets broken. If you try to ignore, she may get louder, so best to just play moderator and add a “Good point, Stacy, we hear you” and keep on truckin. She really wants one thing: to be heard.

4. The Full-On Troll

Now this is where things get serious. A Full-On Troll is a perfect storm of all of the above, times ten: She (or he, by the way) is cynical, jealous, bored, resentful, even ruthless. Not to mention, usually anonymous, especially since Full-On Trolls tend to work the more public comment forums, from small blogs to major publications to Youtube, that buzzing hive of haters.

Usually you don’t know this person, but it doesn’t mean you don’t care, because they come in and crap all over whatever it is you’ve posted. While the Internet didn’t invent cruelty or hate, it certainly did spawn trolls, who, under the invisible cloak of inscrutable screen names, roam around swinging their snarky, hateful bludgeons, smashing anything in their path.

I saw comedian Tony Deyo perform recently, and he did a bit about his recent and first appearance on Conan. During the sweet afterglow of his late night success, a single jab from one YouTube commenter managed to inspire bitter defensiveness and rage. In response to Tony’s four minutes of fame, this snarky respondent wrote, simply, “Boo, bitch.” “That review was two words long,” recalled Deyo. “And in those two words, he managed to insult me twice.”

How to handle it: In a word, ignore. You will not win in a fight with a Troll. Sure, if you’re bruising for a fight, you can dive in, but chances are, you’ll regret it — and probably lose. The fact that you care about something, anything (namely that which you’re defending), puts you at a disadvantage. Because the Troll cares about nothing. You can even call in reinforcements. But is it worth it? What will you win or prove? Nothing. It will cost you a mega-dose of cortisol and adrenaline, and leave you spent and bloody at the end. There are better ways to spend your time.

Deyo says he fumed over his hater for hours, and went on to recount how he turned the tables on him by — how else? — Googling his hater and inflicting his own breed of trollesque punishment on the guy. This was his attempt to right the scales, to make things even. Which he did, and continues to do, every time he tells that story to a new audience.

And thus the toxin spreads and the hater disease continues to fester. Because the most dangerous thing about engaging with a Troll isn’t that you might get hurt or mad or both — but that you risk becoming one of them.

Is This Where You Thought You’d Be? Take the 10-Year Test

10-year

Originally published on dailyworth.com

Picture this: You wake up (perhaps from a minor head injury or a very deep sleep) and forget everything from the past 10 years. In your world, it’s 2004: George W. has won a second term; Martha Stewart has been convicted; Apple just introduced the iPod Mini; and you cried your head off at The Notebook.

This also means that you also believe you’re 10 years younger than you actually are, having (at least for now) borne none of the scars, disappointments or joys of the recent decade. You must now set about collecting clues about who you’ve become.

This is the plot of Liane Moriarty’s popular 2010 novel “What Alice Forgot,” and while it makes for an entertaining read, it’s also a valuable tool for introspection: After all, what would you think of the life you’re living now if you could view it with a cold eye? If you had to figure out who you are now based not on memory, but empirical evidence?

I’ve thought about this long after (spoiler alert) Alice gets her memory back. Reason being that so much of what we’re fed (be it in the self-help, career or otherwise success-oriented literature) tells us to fixate on the future: Set goals, draw up vision boards; picture yourself five, 10, 20 years from now. In other words, keep your eye on the horizon. There’s an optimism to that, and a danger, too — the temptation to assume that things will be better “when,” or simply better then; that all of life is designed to sweep infinitely upward, with more and more to come if we can just manifest it, Secret-style.

Instead of imagining and envisioning what hasn’t happened, look at what has. If you could see your life (your job, your home, the people in it) as a stranger would, what would you think of it — and yourself?

Alice looks with wonder at her lovely home, her swimming pool, her impeccable clothes, her once plump body now lithe and muscular. She’s aghast at her hectic schedule, her foolish friends, the way people treat her — including her daughter, whom she doesn’t know, and the husband she’s in the midst of divorcing, but has no idea why. The clues and the cues reveal that while she is by all accounts beautiful and admirable and organized, she has also become regimented, hard and unforgiving — the very kind of woman she used to loathe.

I call this the 10-Year Test, and I encourage you to take it. I’ll go first:

Ten years ago, I had recently turned 30 and was living in a spacious one-bed in a suburb of Boston. I was dating a former boss, whom I adored, and had just gotten my first publishing job as an editor at a magazine. I was thrilled beyond belief, but also insecure that I had a bit of catch-up to do. I remember crying one night because a younger editor knew more websites than me (it was 2004, after all).

In accepting that magazine job, I had also taken a $15,000 pay cut and was working nights and weekends selling jewelry at home parties to fill the gaping hole in my income. I surprised myself by being very good at sales and wondered how or if I’d use that skill later. My sisters were both pharma reps making close to six figures and I worried (at the very nice pool in my very boring apartment complex in Waltham) that I’d never earn enough, and would ultimately be forced to take up some rich stranger on his offer of $1 million dollars to sleep with me for the night. Not that I had said offer, but if I did, I warned my family, I would very seriously consider it.

So, if you told me that, 10 years hence, I would earn enough working for myself to rent my own studio apartment in Manhattan, write for major publications, including my own column (ta da!), appear regularly on TV and have enough cash left over to eat sushi once a week and get regular pedicures, I would have thought the reason was because I’d died and gone to heaven. I would have also been tickled pink at the fact that I was dating an attractive, talented young musician from Brooklyn or that I could expertly navigate the NYC subway system. I would be surprised by my long hair (which I always used to keep short), my tall boots, the body that I kept in shape thanks to regular runs through Central Park. (Central Park! I would have said. Isn’t that dangerous?)

In other words, if somehow the universe folded back on itself and I could have had coffee with this older version of myself, I would have been impressed. I would have wanted to be me. Now, that’s saying something.

What my younger self doesn’t yet know is that the flipside to that freedom is isolation. That I’m not as sure about what I want as I assumed I’d be at this point. The only thing she and I know well is the familiar sting of that punishing inner voice that hasn’t changed, even when everything else has. But in taking a tour of my life through younger eyes, the day-to-day falls away for a moment, and I realize how good I have it, and how the decisions I made have paid off.

Ok, your turn.

Look around — at your job, your home, your handbag. What do you do all day, and do you like it? What do you carry around with you and do you need it? What’s in your fridge, your bathroom cabinet, your bank account? Chances are, you may be worth more (perhaps quite a bit more) than you were ten years ago. But weighing the money against your mood, what is it worth, and what is it costing you?

Look at your body: How has it changed, grown, worsened, improved? How would you describe it if it belonged to someone else (in fact, I bet you’d be a lot kinder). What do you love or admire about it?

What about the people in your life. Who are they — and can you say that you’re glad they’re there? If you’re partnered, is this the kind of person you wanted to be with back then, and if not, why are you with that person now?

And now the big question: Is the person you are now the one you hoped you would be?

I’m all for goal-setting, for thinking, dreaming and envisioning a fantabulous future. Keeping the twin engines of hope and ambition running is what gets me out of bed in the morning. But rather than try to just get ahead of or better than you are now, you’d be wise to stop every so often and check yourself against what a younger you would think.

Here’s why: You owe it to her. The younger you had big plans and dreams, and quite frankly worked her butt off to get you to where you are now. With your 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to look back and see how everything fell into place — but she didn’t know that! She had to do it blindly, with no idea how it’d turn out. You may think she owes you a debt of gratitude, but in fact, you owe her.

Because in many ways, she’s braver. Maybe she was naive and optimistic or perhaps pessimistic to a fault, and there’s a lot of things you would tell her if you could, but she expected the best of you, and still does.

Now as you look ahead to the next 10 years, you too have big dreams and sketched-out plans. You’re doing what you can to get there. The future you, the one looking back from the precipice of 2025, is well aware. And she already owes everything to you.

Jezebel

Jezebel-napkin

Get Rejected More (You’re Not Doing It Enough)

If you’re weeping into a glass of sherry and wondering why the world is so cruel and your life is so loveless, well, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Yes, I said that. Because if you’re like a lot of women, you wait. And wait. You think you’re enlightened and independent, yet there you are clinging to this Disneyfied idea of romance, believing down deep that if you click your heels, the Right One will appear, if you just sit quietly and wait. It’s not the world getting in your way; it’s you.

You need to make shit happen. Here’s how: You need to take more risks. And you need to get rejected. In fact, my challenge to you is to get rejected no fewer than three times. Tonight, if possible. Because it means you’re getting somewhere. Also, because it’s unlikely you’ll even get that far before someone takes you up on it. (Trust me on this.)

Men already know this. They play the numbers. They’re used to rejection — they accept it as part of the game. If they ask out ten ladies, it means one or two or three will say yes. They go after what they want, and expect rejection. Regularly.

I knew a guy like this in college. He was nothing to look at, truly, but a fun, personable guy. He was never the hottest guy in the room. But he asked out EVERYONE. And the man always had a date. It’s not magic. It’s numbers.

You need to think this way. You don’t need to “act” like a man, but you need to adopt the mentality, create the calluses, and push through it. If you prefer a more gender-neutral example, think business: A salesperson doesn’t go into the field thinking everyone will say yes. But she goes out knowing that to get a return on those efforts, she needs to aim for far more than she’ll actually land.

When’s the last time you got rejected? And what did you do about it? If the answer is go home, lick your wounds, and stop shaving your legs, that’s the wrong answer.

I’ve gotten rejected lots of times–tons. It sucks every single time. It will always hurt. But it doesn’t always have to stop you cold. When I look at the past year alone, I’ve been told many times “no,” or “later,” and “maybe not.”

STRIKE ONE: I was seeing a man in the midst of a divorce; he had pursued me. Then he said he needed time; he’d be back. That was a year ago. When I asked whatever happened to him, he said he was dating other people, but decided he “didn’t want to continue our thing.” Our thing? Meaning, that thing he started? Yeah, that hurt. Moving on.

STRIKE TWO: I sold a guy a set of drawers on craigslist. I was charmed. I emailed him to let him know I thought so. We went for coffee. Then, a walk. He emailed me the next day and said I just wasn’t what he was looking for in a girlfriend. I was shocked, then hurt. Then, over it. Next?

STRIKE THREE: I put the full-court press on a guy I met at a singles event (or rather, I happened to him — find out how to do this). I had him in the bag — I thought. He texted me the next day to go out. Then he changed the date. Then, he changed his mind.

I have more…you want me to go on? You get my point. I get hurt, sad. I don’t quit. And I’m never without a date if I want one. I just go get one.

I also find men wherever they are — not just out at some bar. Anyone you meet is game, and he doesn’t have to be in striking distance of a gin and tonic to be game. I recently visited the Apple Genius bar for help with my Mac. The guy who helped me was completely adorable. I started to leave after our session and then turned my ass right around and went back inside and, when I couldn’t find him, gave my card to another employee to give to him.

He wrote me back a very polite, service-oriented note. I wrote back telling him I was interested in him. And I didn’t hear back. For a month.

I forgot about it.

And then, weeks later, he started following me on Twitter. I called him out (“hey I know you”) and he replied, “We should hang out.”

So we did. And we are.

Be warned: The more time you spend in a gaggle of ladies, the less time you spend taking the risk of putting yourself out there in a real way — making yourself vulnerable, trying, and, failing. Failing isn’t a mistake or something you shouldn’t have done. It’s something you should be doing more.

Do it. Go out — alone. Look hot. Feel hot. Sit at the bar and get a drink. Start a conversation with someone who’s even just mildly attractive. I don’t give a shit if he’s married, gay, or about to enter the priesthood. Buy him a drink. You will probably not marry this man. But you may date him. Who knows? And at the very least, you have a fun, flirty conversation. There will be more.

Do it again. And again. Introduce yourself to guys you meet randomly, in passing, anywhere. Rack up numbers. And you will get results — and likely, a guy who appreciates a woman with a little initiative.


Terri Trespicio is a media personality & lifestyle expert, and a dating coach with expertise in getting singles back on the field. Visit her at territrespicio.com and follow her @TerriT.

This post originally appeared on TerriTrespicio.com. Republished with permission.

5 Ways to Power Down a Busy Mind

Oprah.com

Originally published on Oprah.com

You know you should sleep more, walk more and turn off your phone (that’s not happening). Here are a few surprising ways to quiet your brain at different times of day—without going off the grid.

Take on a more demanding task

In a 2007 study published in the Association for Psychological Science journal, Professor Nilli Lavie of University College London measured the response time of 61 subjects performing tasks on a computer while being distracted by flashing letters. Turns out the more demanding the task, the less distracted the subjects were.

How to do it: When you feel yourself darting out in a thousand different directions, rather than play Whac-A-Mole with your email, immerse yourself in one of your most challenging projects, one that will require your full attention.

Try it when: Your energy is high (as in, not at bedtime), but you’re feeling stressed because you have your hands in a bunch of different half-done tasks.

Don’t spend more than six hours alone

While there’s growing evidence that working from home can reduce stress and increase productivity, there’s reason to believe that spending too much time alone is a recipe for anxiety. Psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, M.D., leading authority on ADHD and author of CrazyBusy, says that face time with another person can have a grounding and calming effect, and you should do it every four to six hours. A study done at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine (and reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) suggests that a change in brain hormones due to social isolation was responsible for aggression and anxiety in mice. “Research is beginning to show what has been a largely unrecognized importance of human connection,” says Hallowell.

How to do it: Commit to regular daily doses of human moments, says Hallowell. Whether that’s coffee with a friend or a hair appointment—interact with a real person in the flesh, not on your phone.

Try it when: You don’t remember when you last spoke a word out loud to another person.

Balance on one leg

A powerful way to calm the mind is to redirect attention to the body. Somatosensory activities, which are simply exercises designed to help you sense your own body, can help sharpen cognitive and physical performance. Hallowell uses them in his Learning Breakthrough program to help with balance, attention and focus issues in children and adults, and you can use them to quiet the mental chatter.

How to do it: Try standing on one leg with your eyes closed (better yet, try it on a wobble board). Change your clothes or put on your shoes without sitting down or holding onto anything. Challenging your proprioception (awareness of where your body is in space) has a way of zapping nagging thoughts.

Try it when: Your brain is about to explode.

Put up stop signs

You weren’t born knowing that a red light means hit the brakes. But you’ve done a pretty solid job of assimilating that information, as you have other habits, like tying your shoes or driving. And you can do the same for a racing mind—if you turn it into a habit. “Your brain learns by repeated attention to intention,” says stress and performance expert Cynthia Ackrill, M.D. “Pairing actions with a calming technique like breathwork can increase those synaptic connections, helping you reduce stress more easily and effectively.”

How to do it: Get yourself a packet of tiny dot-shaped stickers, and put them in select places where you’ll come across them regularly: On the back of your phone, on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the steering wheel. Every time you see one, take three deep, grounding breaths. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found yogic breathing to be a beneficial adjunct treatment for those suffering from anxiety and stress disorders—even those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Don’t have stickers handy? Train yourself to pair breathing with actions you do every day; for instance, every time you walk through a doorway or open the fridge.

Try it when: Your thoughts are racing so fast you can’t keep up.

Take a micro-rest

When your brain is scattered, you can slow it down in seconds—if you make those seconds count. Jim Loehr, founder of the Human Performance Institute and author of The Only Way to Win, spent years studying world-class athletes and coaching them to optimal performance. What he discovered using EKG telemetry was that top tennis players (as well as other athletes) strategically used the downtime between points to recover in as little as 16 seconds (poor competitors did not leverage this recovery time). Based on this groundbreaking research, Loehr developed The 16 Second Cure training program for coaches and athletes.

How to do it: Set a timer for one minute and breathe from the diaphragm (also known as abdominal breathing, in which you allow the belly to expand on the inhale). Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales; this can stimulate your mental recovery.

Try it when: You’re between meetings or you have a big presentation where you’ve got to be at the top of your game and want to quiet your mental chatter.