For the past couple of weeks, I've been wanting to write on this topic. Then I looked in my vast archive of posts and found I wrote a good post on it almost exactly a year ago. So here it is, with a little tweak here and there...
My greatest inspiration and motivation in my journey of personal and spiritual growth has come from the people who dislike me the most.
It's true. The crushing insults and lies of a bunch of online bullies a dozen years ago caused me to shore up some fears and insecurities and dive deeper into my spiritual journey. A criticism from a family member about how I never do anything to help others (which is untrue anyway, because I have been volunteering my time in one way or another for half my life) inspired me to start this blog, which if I can believe y'all's input, has helped a lot of people. In fact, all the thoughtless treatment I received at the hands of people I thought were my friends at various times in my life have nonetheless spurred greater growth in my life and helped me define who I am, what I stand for and the message I want to carry in my life.
The truth is that I get all riled up inside when people paint me in an unfavorable light, regardless of whether it's true or not. First it hurts a lot and makes me cry. Then my inner warrior comes out to smash their hateful notions of me all to hell. :D
Adversity can either crush us or make us stronger. It has certainly done both for me, depending on where rears its ugly head. But mostly, even my most heinous detractors have been a force for good in my life. Sometimes it's an instantaneous transformation. Sometimes these people and situations hold enough truth that they make you work through your stuff. And sometimes, like I said, these incidents can cripple you for a long time.
I've noticed that the older I get and the more experience I have with these situations, the faster the growth and reward. And then the more I grow, the less of a negative impact they have on me and the better person I become as a result. It has gotten to the point for me that the time between the stress these situations cause and the good I'm able to create from it is negligible. Which isn't to say I don't still get stuck on stuff. I do. It's just not very common in relation to how it used to be. I'm even beginning to giggle with anticipation and delight when struck with one of these situations. Well, maybe not quite. But the day is coming. I can feel it. :)
I remember maybe a decade or more ago struggling with the notion of our worst enemies being our best angels. I understood it intellectually, but couldn't quite let go of the victimization and drama that felt so comfortable around situations like that. But as drama slips off me more and more like eggs from teflon these days, I really do see the haters as an amazing gift. In fact, it's completely changing the way I deal with conflict and fear and all the other stuff such situations dredge up. Everything—positive and negative—is energy. You can choose to channel that energy as a force for growth in your life or as a source of stagnation. It's up to you.
One more thing I'm noticing lately is that I have tended to weigh more heavily the opinions of haters than the opinions of those who support me in my life. Dr. Phil has a saying that "it takes 1000 'atta boys' to make up for one 'you're worthless and no good.'" In other words, we replay our criticisms over and over in our heads while we let the praise fall to the wayside. It's human nature. But what I've noticed is that the more I've seen my detractors as angels and the more I channel that energy into positive stuff in my life, the more the complimentary things people say are also inspiring positive changes in me.
It's like a Two For One Sale on personal growth! And it all began with opening my mind to the notion that the haters might actually be doing me a solid. The fact that they're not trying to benefit you doesn't matter. It's all in how you use the energy they send your way.
They say living well is the best revenge. That's a bit too materialistic sounding for me. Happiness, peace and fulfillment are my best "revenge." As long as you seek to hurt or undermine another person, you are not at peace. Unkind, critical, controlling people are not at peace. So I know anyone who seeks to insult or hurt can't be at peace. So nurturing my center of peace and not allowing others to distract me from it (at least not for long) is my best "revenge." Haters gonna hate. That doesn't mean I have to engage with their hate.
As long as we channel the words and actions of detractors into pain and stagnation in our lives, they remain as ever-present spectres, poking holes in our spirit. But once we channel that energy into internal good, the haters not only disappear, but our spirit learns to soar. It doesn't work if you're just doing it to spite them. But if you focus on your own learning and growth and see the situations as the gifts they are, your genuine happiness and peace will cause their negativity to echo back to them, where it belongs.