Most people will have experienced, at some point, how it feels to be the target for some-one’s nasty comments, negativity and a seeming determination to put us down. Depending on our own personality, the point we are at in our lives, how often we are targeted and the situation itself, such negativity can be received in many different ways by us – from an unconcerned shrug of the shoulders to deeply felt pain.
If you’re in the ‘unconcerned shrug’ group then you probably have it all in hand. But most of us aren’t quite so able to shield ourselves this effectively and certainly not all the time. So what can you do to deal with such situations?
1. Realize that it’s not about you!
The first step is to understand – what drives some people to behave so badly towards others?
Typically speaking, most people who feel the need to put others down are unhappy, unfulfilled and lacking heavily in the self-worth and self-confidence departments.
How they behave says far more about them than it does about you.
Happy-in-their-own-skin, balanced and satisfied people don’t dish out the nasty to others – they have no need to make others feel inferior.
Think about it – when are the times when you find yourself thinking bad and perhaps irrationally bad thoughts about some-one? You’ll probably find it is when you are feeling insecure, threatened or simply jealous of another’s looks/achievements/popularity etc.
2. Find out why you got hurt
If something which has been said or done has deeply hurt you, you might like to spend some time asking yourself why.
Why has a particular comment for example made you react so defensively?
Is it because it has touched on something that you are not sure of yourself or some element of truth you don’t really want to face? If so is there anything you can do about it?
For example, if some-one has made an unkind comment about your appearance then perhaps it is time for you to spend some time building up your own self-confidence so other’s comments can’t touch you…… or can’t touch you so much anyway.
It can be very hard to be completely open and honest with ourselves at times and knowing and accepting ourselves without hiding can be challenging.
I am not suggesting that you dwell on this for too long or automatically accept responsibility for some-one else’s bad behavior. It is just it might be an opportunity to look at yourself a little closer, make discoveries and move forward and grow.
3. Don’t react – instead respond calmly
Depending on your personality and the situation, some-one else’s nasty comments might make us want to burst into tears and then run and hide or lash out violently – maybe even both.
But, no matter how tempting it might be – and it will be VERY tempting at times – don’t come straight back with some catty comment of your own. Lowering yourself to this level might give you some instant gratification but that will quickly fade and leave you even more hurt.
Only you can really decide how you handle the immediate aftermath of such negativity but bear in mind that the perpetrator is quite possibly looking for a reaction – either from you or those around you. If you react you are playing straight into their hands and allowing them to dictate the rules.
However, if you say and do nothing this could be perceived as weak and an invitation to do it again at the first opportunity.
The best way to deal with this situation is to stay as calm as possible (even if you are seething on the inside) and make some comment such as the following:
“does that make you feel better?“,
“thank you for your opinion – I will think about it“’
or, if you are in a work situation, something like ‘let’s keep this professional shall we’.
This way you are not giving them any satisfaction from your reaction but you are also making it clear that you won’t just sit and take it either – maybe the best of both worlds.
4. Talk to them if possible
Not all people who make negative comments and put-downs have true malicious intent behind their actions and words. Sometimes people think they are being funny or simply haven’t realized that their thoughtless words have caused you any kind of distress.
If you are in a situation where the same person continuously causes you upset, such as in a work situation, it may be as well to take them aside and speak to them. Explain calmly how they are making you feel, Sometimes that might be the end of the matter.
Once, I had been subject to a girl, whose boyfriend had paid me some attention, spreading nasty rumors that I wasn’t in fact a woman but a man who had had a sex change operation. I have always been a bit of a tom-boy and have quite a boyish build so my femininity was a subject I was quite touchy on. This girl hurt me deeply.
I decided to approach her and I could tell she was expecting confrontation. Instead I calmly told her that had her intention been to hurt me she had achieved that with bells on and if that made her feel better I was glad but could we now stop. She stood there with her mouth open and then I walked away. I had no further problems.
This wouldn’t of course work with everyone or in all situations. This girl was herself hurting, feeling unsure and insecure about her boyfriend and instead of lashing out at him she lashed out at me. But it nevertheless illustrates a point and a different way of dealing with a situation of this kind.
5. Ultimately, you have the control
Although we understand this might seem like an oversimplification, the bottom line is some-one can only hurt you if you let them. It is actually a choice how react to some-one else’s words and actions.
Ultimately YOU have the control and that is quite a self-empowering concept.
Let me end this article with a powerful quote by the Roman Emperor, ‘Marcus Aurelius’:
“You have control over your mind and not outside events, realize this and you will find strength.”