I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~ Bill Cosby
How do you deal with people who disagree with you? See if you recognize any of these reactions:
You get annoyed at the person
You get distracted by dis-empowering thoughts (How could they think that? Why do they think that? What’d I do? What an idiot!? I can’t believe….! If only…)
You try to please them
You change your behavior to meet their expectations because maybe you think they are right
Or – you change your behavior even though you know they aren’t right, just so they will keep liking you
You get angry or frustrated
What about the people who outrightly hate you or ridicule you? Do you try to charm them or argue with them so they’ll see you in a different light? Do you become obsessed over the reasons why they hate you? It’s tiresome worrying about what people think about you and how you can “win” them over. It’s also a complete waste of time!
Like many people, I’ve had to deal with some haters in my life. It used to be really upsetting for me. Through time, experience, and wisdom, I now know that I cannot possibly please everyone. And why should I? That would not be living my truth. My existence, my very being would be determined by every single person I came across. That would be exhausting having to change myself to meet everyone’s expectations of me. I’d rather just be me and if you like me – great! If you don’t, well, that’s okay too.
I’ve never really encountered haters until I started going to therapy and doing some intense work on myself. Prior to therapy I was existing in the world, but my real self was hidden by layers upon layers of trauma, abuse, depression, and ineffective beliefs. Besides finding myself, I found my strength. People in my life who were used to the old me did not like the new version. Some people became envious, some didn’t like that I couldn’t be pushed around anymore, and some did not like me because they did not understand why I got divorced (read my book "Transforming Divorce – How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love" to learn more about my story and how to transform your own life during or after a divorce).
I felt deeply hurt at first as I struggled to understand why people were becoming so critical of me. Didn’t they want me to grow? Didn’t they want me to be happy? Then it dawned on me: It isn’t about me; it’s about them! Something in me is bringing up something in them. It’s easier for them to become a hater than to become reflective about why certain strong emotions like anger, resentment, and jealousy are surfacing.
I recommend the video "Dealing with Haters" (which is on Timothy Ferriss's website) if you are having issues with people who hate you, if you are feeling misunderstood, you are having ruminating thoughts, or any other issues that have to do with this subject. It’s an entertaining video featuring the author, Timothy Ferris, of the bestselling books "The 4-Hour Workweek" and "The 4-Hour Body" talking about how he has learned to deal with haters. When you are in the public eye, like many actors, singers, authors, and sports stars are, you inevitably deal with people who won’t like you. It’s not a matter of if, but usually when.
Those of us who are not so famous still have to deal with other people’s negative feelings about us. The more we interact with the world, the more people we come into contact with. Not everyone is going to like me – or you. That’s just a part of life. If you can realize that it isn’t about you and don’t take it personally, then your reactions will be minimized.
You cannot possibly please everyone. Why try? Stay true to yourself and to your beliefs. People are going to have their reactions. That’s out of your control. What is in your control are your reactions to them. Don’t squander your energy worrying about what other people think of you. Life’s too short! As long as you aren’t harming yourself or others by your perceptions and by your actions, then by all means, go out and live life on your own terms. And while you're doing that, you will inevitably find friends and family who support you and love you for who you are, not for who they want you to be.
Nicole Nenninger is the author of "Transforming Divorce - How to Get Back on Track and Create a Life You Love" and the "Transforming Divorce Workbook - How to Make Divorce the Best Thing that Ever Happened to You." Nicole is finishing her advanced degree in psychology and is the founder of www.nicolenenninger.com and co-founder of www.mydailymotivator.com and www.runninglongisland.com, and contributes to www.donnenninger.com. She and her new husband reside in New York with their four children.