hat-ers (Noun) /hātərs/: Urban Dictionary defines Haters as “a label applied to people who are more negative than positive when discussing another person. It most commonly refers to individuals whose negativity is so extreme that it is all-consuming.” In many cases, a person “hates” out of jealousy, but for others, the behavior seems to stem from some other source. Many people actually generate strength and fuel from having ‘haters’ doubt their abilities to accomplish their goals. However, using this negative energy as fuel is much more challenging when these ‘haters’ are actually people in our life that we are connected to and love.
I recall a conversation with one of my favorite uncles. I had always been very close to him throughout my teenage years and often went to him for advice and guidance. When I was 12, he taught me how to walk on my crutches. When I was experiencing my first crush at age 14, he gave me the inside secrets to successfully dealing with boys. And when I was 17, he offered sage advice for gaining more trust and independence from my mother. Even after I moved away and would go to visit him, those nostalgic feelings remained and I always felt comfortable talking to him. When I went to visit him one Thanksgiving a few years ago, sharing with him my excitement about a new project I was working on seemed very natural and completely familiar. But this time, our conversation turned out somewhat different.
After I shared with him about the project, my uncle, looking puzzled, asked what I ultimately wanted to accomplish. I told him that my goal was to speak and write professionally and that this project would help give me an opportunity to showcase my skills and network with speakers and writers from across the country. “You mean like Tony Robbins?” he questioned. “Yes,” I chuckled “ultimately, I would love to speak to large audiences in countries around the world.” And with 100% certainty, my uncle replied, “Oh, no. You don’t have the background for something like that. The people that speak to audiences like that had the background for it. They had big time consulting jobs or were CEO’s of companies and things like that. Plus, they are all males! You can’t do that.”
This story remains with me because it was the first time my uncle whom I have no doubt really loved me acted like a ‘hater’ towards me. I believe that my uncle truly thought the he was helping me, offering me the kind of sage advice that he provided me throughout my youth. My uncle thought he was helping me to avoid failure or disappointment by letting me know before I got too far that my goal of building a speaking and writing business couldn’t be done.
Before we decide how to handle our loved ones and minimize the impact of their negativity on our lives, let’s first understand their motives. There are several reasons why people who love you “hate:”
1. They fear that you will be hurt, disappointed or will fail. Because they love you, they want to protect you from being hurt by discouraging you to go beyond what THEY determine to be your limits.
2. They know the “old” you. Loved ones may doubt your abilities because they can only see who you were in the past and may find it difficult to see the person you have become.
3. They don’t believe in you. For many loved ones who hate, they feel as if they know the REAL you and they cannot see past your shortcomings.
4. They don’t believe in themselves. Because they believe that they couldn’t accomplish your stated goal, by association, you shouldn’t be able to accomplish it either.
5. They are jealous of you. Although I believe that this is the minority, unfortunately, there those loved ones who ‘hate’ simply out of jealousy.
For the most part, our loved ones who make negative comments in response to our expressions of our wants, desires, goals and dreams are not doing so to try to hurt us. Many are simply looking to protect us from pain and disappointment or are simply negative in their outlook for themselves. There are several things we can do to lessen their impact on our lives as we work to pursue our goals and dreams.
Here’s what you can do when your ‘haters’ actually love you:
1. Don’t bother trying to get them to change. This is NOT your job. Instead, decide to be a role model. Be a constant display of your best self. Not only will this help move you closer to your goal, you’ll be introducing them to the “new” you. The best you can hope is that they will see the light in you and begin the change process, but they must do so themselves. Be the example, nothing more.
2. Tell them how you feel. Many loved ones don’t realize the impact that their words have on you. Share with them, in a non-judgmental and loving way, how you felt when they made certain comments. Let them know that you want them as a part of your life while you are pursuing your goals, however in order to do so, they will need to support you actively or say nothing at all. The choice is up to them and you must openly accept whichever decision they make.
3. Remove yourself from the situation. When loved ones begin to “hate” on you or others, don’t comment and quickly remove yourself from the situation. It may be necessary to spend less time with them, particularly in the beginning, while you become stronger in your convictions and move closer to your goal.
4. Share your plans with like-minded people. Instead of sharing your goals and visions with a loved one, join a mastermind group instead. A mastermind is a small group of people who gather around a common theme (a career path, parenting, special interests, a business goal, etc.) with the purpose of supporting and holding one other accountable for all agreed upon actions. These are powerful groups for helping you to achieve your goals.
5. Take a bold stand for yourself. If you’ve tried the suggestions above and these loved ones’ continued behavior is actually impacting your growth, it is time to take a stand. You may have to make some courageous decisions about whom you intend to share your life with and how you wish to live. You and the work you contribute to the world are far too valuable to allow anyone or anything to cause you emotional harm or damage. It may be a tough choice, but you and your contribution to the world are worth it.
Please share other techniques you’ve used to lessen the impact of “haters” that have loved you in your life.