How to Handle Critics, Naysayers & Toxic Comments – and Keep the Bliss in Your Homeschool, Blog or Business
Throughout the years I’ve noticed from my own experience and by observing others – that such a large portion of our happiness depends on the relationships we have with the people we love the most. Although we shouldnt be fully dependent on what other people think for our own happiness – its natural and normal, to want the people around us, who we care about to be in agreement and support of us. Although for the most part this is the case – much suffering is often rooted in criticism, withdrawal of support or in other words the shooting down of dreams we are trying to birth.
The opposition and resistance can often feel like this..
immense rocks being piled on top of you.. one by one.
So what do you do when you feel like no one understands you, supports you, or your loved ones have little interest in what you’re trying to do?
It’s time for a perspective and mindset shift.
As much as we’ve been conditioned to think and respond with “I dont care what people think,” or “Im going to JUST ignore it.” Downplaying it does nothing to help you learn the lesson embedded in the experience. Feel the hurt it does MATTER and its there for a reason.
The contrast you are experiencing is natural and meant to show you the differing perspective many others (you’ll find in your new endeavor anyway) will espouse. So there’s no sense in burying it, ignoring it or down playing.. let’s address it so that you can take what you’re meant to receive.
I’ve experienced resistance in a number of different ways throughout my life so far, and so felt compelled to write this post. Im a huge believer that the things that cause us most pain are our greatest source of teaching and healing and so, desire that with all my heart for you. I experienced opposition and resistance when I : 1) started a home based business 8 yrs ago, 2) started homeschooling 3 years ago, and 3) started this blog 3 months ago (I’m still getting resistance now!).
There were times in my early experience when this just pierced me straight in the chest in a very debilitating and visceral way.
I felt depressed, insecure and unnecesarily defeated. I didn’t know that I DID NOT need the validation of anyone to bring forth what was fervently burning inside of me, and yet the criticisms and negativities brought me down, and I didnt get the fruit of the lesson behind the messenger.
Before you can respond, its important to get clear on what exactly is a Critic, Naysayer and Toxic Person. Although they’re usually lumped together they’re actually very very different, with each bearing a different message and positive gain. Here’s how they’re different:
Now Here’s How I’ve Handled Them..
The CRITIC: the critic feels they have valuable information to share with you to hopefully avoid you hurt, or unneeded pain. As admirable as this may be it can sometimes come across as they’re doubting your abilities or intelligence/care thinking things through (!) Try not to let your EGO Trip up over this (!), and miss the point. A key thing with the critic is – they may not always be in disagreement with you (so its important to clear this up with further questioning, if you’re not sure; and avoiding jumping to conclusions – just because they have reasons *why* it won’t work).
Although it might feel like theyr’e poking holes into your dream – listen and take note of aspects you did not consider. Acknowledge them and thank them. Then let them know all of the research and careful thinking you *did* put into this.. all the while affirming that you’re still going to move forward! The critic can become a supporter after seeing in time how committed you are or seeing your success. The gift here is you get more information on areas you did not consider, and can improve how you move forward.
The Naysayer: the naysayer doesnt agree with you, and many times that’s all it is, an emotion and opinion based on a sensationalized experience they had themselves or saw. For instance, they read, saw something on TV, experienced themselves (failed business), or a misconception/stereotype (they saw Dolphin Tale & thought all homeschoolers live on a boat!).
The best route, from my experience in dealing with naysayers has been.. asking them what they’re basing their oppinions on, and then moving from there. Usually gently educating them (since this type usually doesn’t go based off of hard facts) makes them more open minded. However if they are particularly passionate about the topic, its important to set a firm boundary or avoid the topic altogether and simply agree to disagree (as adults we can and should do that! and you can give them kind reminders). The gift here is you get to educate a person on a topic, even if they might still not agree. They might also in time, through your example, change their tune.
Toxic People: comments or people in this category usually turn toxic if they become overtly disrespectful (mocking, shaming, demeaning). Or if after communicating your decision they continue to pander and coax you to give up on your endeavor. The best way to handle these sort of comments in my experience is to set firm boundaries – clearly say their behavior will not be tolerated (if it’s passive aggressive, by all means call it out also and voice how it makes you feel and is disrespectful). Most of the time the person will change their ways or sever ties before you do. After this is uber important to let them know what steps you are willing to take if they escalate further with gossiping/slander. Limiting contact, or going NO- Contact is more than warranted for the sake of you and your families’ peace of mind! This was an area I used to have so much guilt over. Don’t! Your family comes first. The gift here is you get to create space for new healthier relationships.
Now that you’re clear on what the different kinds of resistance are and the positives they can bring.
What could be going on “inside of you” that needs soul work, and you need to do before you move forward (if you’re triggered now at the start.. just imagine when you’re swimming in the pool of your new role!).
Whenever I get emotional about someone’s reaction or comment I like to:
What is it about this comment that is making me feel upset, attacked or unsupported exactly? Is it the tone or delivery (if it was more gentle would it matter?). Do I feel unheard and misunderstood or judged?
If I realize its not so much the words but the attitude.. and emotion behind it. In my experience identifying “exactly” what is not resonating with me has made a *huge* impact in communicating to the person what is making me feel disrespected. Once I get clear on this it makes it easy to communicate my needs and hopefully get them met. If things dont change then the relationship is taking an unhealthy turn – and I monitor it. You can manage someone who is not in agreement or support so long as a certain “blanket” level of respect is upheld. If after several attempts you dont feel better or respected.. then it may be time to move your attentions elsewhere.
Stage 2: Assess
Why can’t I handle calmly right now and with a level head, what this person is saying to me right now? Even if it is agressive or wrong?! How do I need to strengthen my character, anger management or conviction so that I’m not so easily thrown off.
Many times when I’ve become very angry or bothered about something someone says or brings up, its because I’m not really secure with my choice (doubts I still need to hash out!). If I feel attacked, do I still have a need to be validated or approved by people?
When those feelings come up its an opportunity to *test* if we are who we say we are, and if path is *really* what we want.
Difficult situations are an opportunity to divinely test if we are who we really say we are.Difficult situations are an opportunity to divinely test if we are who we really say we are. Click To Tweet
If we ARE really secure – would someone’s oppinion or remark really impact us so easily?
Think back on a decision where you were convicted?
That’s right your emotions didn’t even flinch!
Try to assess within yourself how this experience is doing you a favor to test you (one last time before you go through the time, investment, and work of starting or continuing with it). Its God’s infinite kindness and love in disguise friends! In this light, its a divine test! Everything in our lives is always working in our favor, use it to help you see where you still need strengthening or where you need to make changes. The person is just a messenger.
Stage 3: Respond
Once you’ve taken stock of all of those variables. Figure out how you want to respond. There are situations where you must take a strong and decisive stand if you’re being attacked and disrespected.
Although I’m a big proponent of peace, bliss and love – I am not an endorser of being a pushover or allowing yourself (or your family) to be bullied. A spiritual woman might have to show her teeth! Make sure though, its after you’ve lovingly given the person ample time and opportunity to rectify things. If they really value your relationship, they will.
If you’re unsure on how to respond. Take the time to think about it, and another day. You’re human, give yourself grace and space to think.
Another point you want to consider is.. depending on the situation, you do not have to address them alone or in a space you do not feel comfortable in (their house, or yours). A neutral location with perhaps with sitting/walking passerbys may be a more sage choice. Trust your gut and intuition!
For the most part I am a believer in responding in the calmest and most respectful manner (after silently saying a prayer and asking for divine guidance on how to proceed). Trust that you WILL be supported and you will be given wisdom on what to say. And it will be enough. For a long time, I would *regret* not saying more or doing things differently.. give yourself the grace in knowing that in every moment we give the *best* for any given situation. Every situation will train and refine you for the next one as well. Lay those ruminating, in adequate thoughts after a tense experience to rest.
Above all things, when being confronted by a critique or naysayer – whether they are a calm sweet talker or more callous.. remember: Not everyone is meant to understand your journey, or the places where you are meant to go. Some will care and want to understand; other’s wont and that’s ok. This is your journey to travel and you’re the only one that has to be certain and approving of it!
I hope you found today’s post empowering and encouraging.
In today’s video I’ll be going over some common responses I give to the 3 kinds of people I’ve received the most resistance and opposition from.
Have you had any toxic experiences because of homeschooling, starting a business, parenting, or starting a blog? I’d love to hear all about how you handled it and came out stronger from it in the end! Please leave me a comment below.
If you know someone who could use these tips. Please share this post with them.