Did you know that 12% of adults have experienced social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives? Sure, we’ve all experienced feelings of anxiousness in certain social situations. However, that anxiety can become clinical when it starts to impact our daily functioning to the degree that we stop doing things we genuinely want to do because we’re afraid of feeling uncomfortable in the presence of others. This tendency to withdraw and isolate, to protect our frail egos, only fuels the anxiety even more. As a result, we may miss out on otherwise meaningful experiences and valuable opportunities.
Imagine how anxious you would feel in the presence of people you know for a fact don’t like you, or may even hate you. This becomes quite the dilemma when fears of judgment, criticism, and ostracism prevent you from attending classes, going to work, being involved in your community, or doing something you enjoy. You end up feeling like a failure, losing income, feeling lonely as your motivation to do anything slowly starts to dwindle away without intervention.
How to show up for yourself in a room full of haters
For the purpose of this article, let’s define haters as people who say mean and hurtful things. Haters tend to use negativity and criticism to beat you up and make you feel bad about yourself so they can get what they want or feel better about themselves. Being around such toxic people doesn’t have to bring you down. Instead, you can take down the bullies in your life by making a commitment to yourself not to give them an ounce of satisfaction.
Here are some tips to help you keep showing up for yourself despite all the haters:
Re-frame the situation.
Consider it a compliment that you inspired such a reaction. Recognize that negative feedback isn’t always about you. What other people say about you is often times a reflection of how they feel about themselves or a deflection of ￼their responsibility in a certain situation. If you are making waves, you are likely doing something right. Criticism is bound to happen, especially when challenging social norms and the status quo.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Realizing that some people don’t like you can be a tough pill to swallow. It compromises your self-esteem; you start questioning everything about yourself, and even second guessing the nature of certain relationships. I have found that when haters hate, those haters are generally people that don’t know me on a personal level and they make up stories about me that are simply not true by taking things I have said or done completely out of context. Rather than getting defensive, let the people who do know you and your heart remind you of who you’ve always been, who you still are, and who you can be moving forward.
Double down on self-care.
If you notice yourself starting to dwell on what you could or should have said or done to protect yourself from the thoughts and opinions of others, it may be an indicator that you have been skimping on or neglecting your self-care practices. Allow yourself time and space to process your thoughts and feelings, sorting out what is yours to bear from what is not. Consider taking a mental health day to regroup by grounding yourself with love and kindness.
Use criticism to self-evaluate.
If you’re like most people, the ego may take an initial hit upon receiving negative feedback about yourself. That’s completely normal; the way you see yourself is being challenged. So if you see yourself as a good person and someone gives you feedback indicating the opposite, you’re going to feel some type of way. Once that initial sting wears off, you can think objectively about the criticism to consider whether or not it is valid.
All criticisms are an opportunity to go within and learn something new about yourself. Notice if there are any emerging patterns for you to take a closer look at. If there’s some relevancy to what someone is saying about you that supports your personal development goals, take the feedback and let it guide your self-improvement efforts. Just because the criticism wasn’t given to you in a constructive way doesn’t mean that you can’t receive it constructively.
Humility refers to your willingness to ￼ admit your own faults or limitations. It involves being able to set aside your own agenda—like looking good or smart—for the greater good of a relationship, or even a system of relationships. From this place of humbleness, you can respond to the criticism with dignity and grace by valuing the thoughts and opinions of others to the extent that it makes sense for you and supports your own personal or professional growth.
When you consciously and intentionally hold yourself with less importance, you create space from which others may feel heard, and listened to, in a meaningful way. You can build bridges from that space by listening to understand the pain behind the hate.Humility has the power to strengthen relationships, breeding deeper understanding, connection and mutual respect.
Focus on the bigger picture.
At the end of the day, you ultimately have to ask yourself what really matters. Think of it like this: every moment given to your haters is a moment taken from your lovers. When you think about who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do, consider who you do it for, and what kind of message you most want to convey through your words, actions, and behaviors. You can let the opinions of others discourage you from living your truth or drive you forward on your personal mission.
The next time you catch yourself starting to avoid social situations, take a moment to check in with yourself about how the avoidance activity may be impacting other areas of your life. Use this honest check-in with yourself to safeguard your overall mental health with preventative care.
Start by learning to re-frame the situation as a compliment rather than a diss. Tap into your social support system to remind yourself who you really are. Remember to prioritize your self-care and create space in your life to reflect on your innermost truths.
Use negative criticism as a way to stay accountable to your personal or professional goals. Practice humility as you work toward getting back into alignment with who you want to be. Lastly, remind yourself to focus on what matters most to you — let that conviction give you all the strength you need to keep moving forward.
Thanks for reading. If you liked what you read, consider joining my email list to receive updates when I publish. Subscribe here