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Dealing with “Haters”: How to Rise Above the Negative

Angry Egg

“The final proof of greatness lies in being about to endure criticism without resentment.” ~Elbert Hubbard

A splash of tequila to the unsuspecting open eyes is a brutal way to learn that someone has a problem with you.

My brother’s girlfriend was drunk at the time, and laughing so hard at the sting of my agony that she had a bathroom accident. I hadn’t provoked her in any way. It was just one of those things that make you wonder.

Later I would come to find out how much she secretly detested my academic success.

I didn’t understand it at first. I thought she loved me as if I were her younger sister. It eventually was revealed that she was one of those people who smiled to your face and talked badly about you to other people. Especially when you were in a place to shine.

That was the first time I realized that no matter what I did, there would people in this world who would seethe on the inside, just because I was who I was.

Does any of this sound familiar?

So, you’ve managed to kick start the old social dynamics domino effect of your success. The people who love you will support you and sing your praises. They will defend you in the sight of defamation, be there to toast your victories, and wipe your tears during your defeats.

And just when you really begin to shine, you hear it on the wind: someone has a problem with the way you look, the way you sing, dance, or flip veggie burgers. Maybe he or she even has a problem with the way you express yourself.

Our society calls them “haters.” Labeling these individuals as one-dimensional blots of hatred isn’t really the answer. Many of them have problems and are lost and misguided.

And some of them may even be good people who just happen to be succumbing to the twinge of the ego.

Here is where some of you are probably thinking, “that’s not my problem.”

My answer to this is simple. It will be your problem if you let it be. And for many years, I let it be my problem. The tequila thrower wasn’t the only instance, and I burdened myself with what I did to deserve such negative feedback.

Why didn’t these people like me? What could I do to stop them from “hating” on me? It took me years of inner spiritual exploration to discover one important fact:

If you zero in on the negativity of these people when they are in the throes of their negative spin, you will be anchoring yourself to their personal baggage and participating in their internal struggle.

In essence, you will be making their problem, your problem.

But to rise above the darkness is a little tough. Many times, it will seem that these people will do anything and everything to make you feel bad about yourself. In fact, you have to be a pretty secure person to be able to withstand any onslaught that is less than warm and fuzzy.

So how does one move forward in the face of ugliness?

For me it took a flip of perspective. I had to toughen up and see that people who throw tequila in your face when you’ve done nothing wrong are a part of our life’s transformative process.

1. Negative people will make you grow.

How many times have you cried yourself to sleep because of something one of these people said or did? How many times after did you pick yourself up and vow to get better, stronger, and less accessible to emotional pain by the hands of others? Whenever a “hater” becomes active in the energy of their negativity toward you, this becomes your time for growth.

You may fall down crying again or get angry. But you will often find a way to get better and grow beyond their criticism just to make certain that there is no validity in their claims.

2. They secretly want to be like you.

Envy is a special kind of cruelty serum. When a person becomes envious of another, it is always because they have admired a beloved trait in that person. Unfortunately, when they turn their focus inward in hopes of replicating your desirable characteristic, they find lack in their own lives.

It can be a pretty hard thing to want something that others have and believe that there is little chance that you can create this experience in your own reality. Instead of bringing out the best in themselves, they will often fixate on the object that reflects their inadequacies.

3. They are your success indicators.

If you’ve attracted the attention of people who take pleasure in criticizing your every move, chances are that you are a shining star and the world has started to take notice. People who have it in them to try to knock you off your high horse are telling you something on the soul level.

What are they saying?

“You are a trendsetter, a trailblazer, a person who leads and conquers. And since you’ve decided to make a name for yourself and step up with the big boys, I’m going to have to challenge your fortitude.”

4. They are your teachers.

Have you ever heard the expression that we pick our teachers? It is believed by many who thrive in awakened circles that we choose the people who will help us to grow the most in our lifetime.

We live in a physical world of polarities. In the expression of our physical experience, there is no light without dark, no good without evil.

The opposing forces in the world serve to give dimension, color, and context to our earthly experience. Under this perception, we can see that there can be no friend without the adversary. For what is a friend without the adversary to use as a comparative backdrop?

And it is the adversary that will give us some of our greatest lessons in our lives.

They will teach us to love ourselves, cause us to muster our strength and grow far beyond our perceived shortcomings. The truth is, these people come in all shapes and mentalities. We can talk about personal traits such as prejudice, ignorance, and natural born cruelty to name a few, that could be seen as the true causes of “hateration,” but all of this just falls into the category of the person’s inner darkness and lack of personal evolution.

The fact is this: Either they will purge through their garbage and learn to bring light inside of themselves, or they will stay stuck in their internal war. Either way you’ve got to find a way to deal with them while keeping your own light protected.

So how do we deal with the negativity? It’s all fun and games when we talk about it, but how do we actually begin to overcome when the negativity rears its head? It helps to start with this:

1. Free yourself of judgment.

Relinquish the desire to form opinion about what these people are saying or doing. Attempt to see their actions as neither good nor bad, just background chatter of their internal struggle that has little to do with you and everything to do with them. Try not to take their criticisms personally.

2. Lead with compassion.

Understand that because of their negativity, they have a lot of internal work to do to become a whole person. See that they may potentially be in the midst of their own suffering, which is spawning their criticism. Realize that their negativity probably affects their relationships and their ability to transform and receive true inner wisdom.

That’s gotta suck.

3. Keep your eyes on the road.

You’ve been put on the planet for an important reason. You’ve gotten as far as you have by focusing on what you need to do. Anyone who is threatened by your positive performance is indicating that you’re doing things right.

Don’t look to the left. Don’t look to the right. Just stay grounded on your path and continue to surround yourself with people who build you up.

4. Forgive.

Forgive these people for raining on your parade and forgive yourself for forgetting your umbrella.

It’s okay to emote and react sometimes. You’re human. Cut yourself some slack. And if you’re really grown up, try to cut them some slack as well. We were not all created with the same level of pain tolerance, emotional endurance, and maturity level.

Now remember, these are just some guidelines that you may want to add to your toolbox. I have found that the most important thing to remember is that all of this is just part of the journey of discovering the self.

Angry egg image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Jenee Fernandes

About Jenee Fernandes

Jenee Fernandes Jones is an awakened personal empowerment writer and life long student of holistic and enlightened living. An advocate of freedom consciousness, she believes in personal transformation through connection to the divine spark of limitless potential. She is the creator of the website One Joyful Journey and offers fun, spiritual life talks through her YouTube persona Journey Girl Divine.

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  • Nigel

    Excellent article and spot on points! The last point is very important. Forgive the person for your own benefit.

  • Martin G :)

    What a great article! I certainly needed this today Thanks so much 🙂 #stayawesome

  • emmapeel61

    I really needed this today, too. My housemate, who is also a dear friend, is very critical of me and the way I live my life. I need to let go of her remarks and live my life the way I know I need to do it.

  • emmapeel61

    I needed this today! My housemate, who is also a dear friend, is very critical of me. It creates a lot of tension in the household, which includes her 16 year-old daughter. I need to rely on my own sense of what is best for me and not be drawn in to her drama.

  • Teleri

    I agree with a lot of this. But NEWS FLASH – behavior like that of your sister-in-law is UNACCEPTABLE. It IS bad. So sorry, but true. Belittling, undue criticism, nasty comments – all RUDE behavior. Period. I really am not one for sitting about condoning bad behavior – I don’t in myself, nor my children, and I certainly will point it out when directed at me or mine. The idea of consequences coming from a person’s choices and actions really seems foreign anymore 🙁

  • Aria

    I agree with this very well. Maybe I wasn’t confident enough to see how the ‘little’ awesome things I see in me can create that much attention, or could ever ‘envy’ me in some way, I’ll never know. I used to have many ‘haters’ in school even if I didn’t do anything wrong, and they’ve lessened by 90% now, except this one group of girls that won’t stop seeing me with ‘hater eyes’. Because of these haters, I got hurt. Because of my hurt, I vented towards a certain person and now that ‘vent’ experienced changed my life and even gained me new genuine friends.

    So, your article’s right! Positive things could really grow from negative ‘haters’.

  • Sooj

    This helped to realign me as I just realized through reading this that I have been anchored down by an individual’s negativity. The synchronizatic nature and timing of the lessons in this article is telling me to recalculate my path once more. Thank you for the recalibration.

  • Ruqaiyah

    I completely agree with you. While this article is great on understanding self and our haters, it missed the boat on something you point out, which is boundaries. I also have in-laws trouble because I am polite and don’t fight back and my haters love picking on me. I think their motive comes from prejudice towards me as my SIL is a know it all and puts me down all the time, gossips behind my back and also falsely accuses me by gossiping to my MIL. SIL sabotaged most of my relationships with my laws while I stay quiet and have a ruined reputation. This article says I should forgive and keep being a doormat. I cut all of these haters out of my life, the less I attend their events the more they hate me. But i dont care if are angry because they will never be pleased to see me. I have come to terms with that inlaws will always be haters, because they can never be your well wishers because they have always look down at you. Best way to dealing with haters is to never share anything about your life, dont ever trust them even with small talk, dont even be in the same room. Change rooms if you are in the same room. Stay far far away from your haters, they get so irritated and hate me more the more I stay away and don’t share information because they don’t have anything good to say anyway.

  • Amy

    “…never share anything about your life, don’t every trust them even with small talk.” This is IT! It is so hard to not get sucked in but the boundary is critical because haters twist words every time to your disadvantage. So hard but so necessary.

  • Mary

    I so needed this today…..I’ve been battling a couple of these people in my life right now….and trying to figure out where to go with it. Thanks for this!

  • Day-v-n

    This article gave me an inward spiritual boost today, along with validating so much of my own thoughts. This article came to me at the right time and it was everything that I needed in the moment considering a stressful work week. Thank you Jenee, for pointing out every point that you did, especially picking our teachers and by engaging negative people, we pick up their issues. Long live our maintaining our inner strength, peace, and emotional power.

    I also think that some people may have missed the most important part of the big picture. It is a SECONDARY point, within this discourse/post, that BAD behavior is unacceptable or rude. Yes, it is understood cognitively and intellectually that some behavior is inappropriate and ill mannered, but within the larger context of this message, even the behavior of others is related to your growth cycle and evolution. The great Buddha himself, would recognize that suffering itself was bad, harsh, and painful, but within the larger context of spiritual evolution with purpose. This, is truly the central NEWSFLASH worth understanding.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I certainly respect your feelings and I completely understand your frustration. No one should ever have to endure these kinds of situations. I’d like to point out that my own perspective is rooted in the path of my spiritual journey of self transformation toward enlightenment.

    This piece is not about glorifying the aggressor, nor is it about condoning the actions of the bully or placing yourself in a position to tolerate bullying or bad behavior. It is about the person who is striving to go beyond the lower-ego struggles of tit for tat. It is about the person who is seeking to understand the subtle nature of such struggles because they are growing past the common response of crime and punishment. Not everyone will find comfort in handling things this way, because everyone is coming from a different vantage point in their life experience. But I believe that one cannot seek to change the primitive or despicable behavior in those who are enslaved by the lower self.

    While cruelty in any form is unacceptable, some situations will go beyond our ability to change or induce resolution regardless of how unacceptable they are. This is what this piece intended to address. We should always strive to take the empowered path and never place our ability to feel resolved in the hands of whether there is retribution, apology or change in the outer conflict. We will always have the power to rise above and find peace on our own, as we nurture healthier perspectives in dealing with conflicts that go beyond our control. This is something that can never be stripped from us. And that power lies within no one but ourselves. Thank you again for starting this important dialogue.

  • Mary, I’m so pleased that this post was able to give you the boost you needed. You are so very welcome. Keep your head up!

  • Wow, thank you so much for the profound perspective. It makes me feel good to know that I was able to help you validate some of the things that you were already thinking. I’m so pleased that my intention was clear for you. Everybody is different and what works for one person, may not work for the other. I have just found that these approaches have helped me on my particular path. Again thank you for the kind words.

  • Hi Emma, thank you for sharing. It’s wonderful that this post was beneficial to you. You are absolutely right. Let you inner compass be your guide.

  • Oh Martin, Thank you for the positive feedback! You are very welcome!

  • Yes Nigel, forgiveness is crucial. Thank you for your positive comment!

  • Lianma

    I loved reading this article, thanks so much for writing it. It mentions all the things I’ve come to understand as I’ve personally worked through all these issues.

    For me the ‘hater’ was my Mother, once I hit adolescence aged 12. Pity it took me til 40 years of age to realise the problem isn’t, & never was me! Still – I got there in the end, which is what matters. & given my new-found understanding of her complex personality problems we can now co-exist quite peacefully, within the limitations of a relationship that I’ve accepted can never be what I wish.
    Understanding, acceptance, and not taking criticism personally…
    Can’t deny it’s not negatively shaped my life so far – but it’s not over yet!

  • Teleri

    Well that’s very enlightened and I do agree that retribution is not very productive. If the whole nastiness is over & done with. no chance the person will be sorry for it or get punished (or that you will SEE that punishment) then of course the best thing is to just move on & not dwell. Bad energy will always coagulate…. let it gather around the original cause and banish it from your life.
    HOWEVER, if the problem is persistent and ever-present, then NO just ignoring it won’t do anything positive! There are many many many of these situations where there ARE actions to be taken to alleviate them. I’ve a passive-aggressive sister-in-law who tried this on with me. She doesn’t anymore, cause I’m not one to sit back & take it with a smile. I can make someone like this look like the a$$wipe they are and it shuts them up. I don’t bother w/her anymore because she’s good to my brother so what business is it of mine as long as she leaves ME alone? But to sit and suffer her little jibes? Why NO THANK you honey!

  • Rosemarie

    Hi Jenee, I’m so grateful to have the privilege of being part of this website and read so many positive things on these pages. Thank you Jenee for the confirmation I need over and over to continue doing what I’m doing with my part of playing in this ‘game of life’. I’ve worked very hard over 30 years with coming to terms with myself and the sensitivity I’ve felt all of my life. I raised 4 children by myself pretty much, without an “education” and I am proud to have done the job I need. All of my children are ‘angels’ in my eyes, even with their own struggles. So thankful to you and all of the people who continue to be an asset in the world! Thank you so very much! I look forward to reading more of these absolutely positive stories and ways of continuing my life in a positive way. 🙂

  • Dakota

    I have been on the other end. Im the “hater”. My problem is that people are trying to be cool, have a lot of friends and gain their attention from creating an image of themselves on the internet. (On facebook) I got frustrated with them because they were mean to me and see me as a hater when in reality they dont think im “cool” enough to be around and wont admit it to themselves. They have been so cruel to me ive been hurt for years. While I feel that i am attempting to chase after long term genuine goals that involve growth. Honestly, yeah…I get frustrated at these people because they go out drinking and instead of doing something of substance with their lives they are seen as so artsy, creative and cool and hang out at bars. Yes it makes me mad because no one thinks im cool for working full time in college or that i’m a 23 year old starting out my college career…instead of like those who are finishing their degree they didnt take the time to self explore like i did and start identifying things they want to pursue. They have a fucking image for themselves. So i work alone feverishly to grow my life they hang out and be cool together. Yes, everyday i have to remind myself to improve myself and not pay attention to them because one day im going to be getting my photos published in national geographic and im going to be a cultured, well traveled naturopathic doctor. Instead of pointing out that they have friends to go to bars with and i dont. So, i’m frustrated by this article. If anyone cares to point out my perceived flaws as a “hater” please do…i spend alot of time agonizing over this. (thats not sarcasm, go ahead shoot)

  • Rstar

    Unfortunately Jenae this is a reality for many wives dealing with toxic in-laws, wished our conflict would reach a level of understanding but it will not end until our spouses make it their struggle and fight too to earn respect for his wife and kids. sorry, it is not my reality, it breaks my heart. Teleri, Tit for tat never ends with these type of SILs with lack of respect for you…two options remove yourself completely and never share anything personal or build boundaries like you already do by calling her out but Your husband needs to seek resolution for you. You deserve respect.

  • Teleri

    It’s my BROTHER’s wife – and she really is incapable of truly doing anything other than showing her own a$$$ around me now. Before I figured out what she was like, different story, but that didn’t last very long.
    I’m just so not passive anything. I’m rather intimidating, so I’ve been told. I refuse to start ANYTHING w/this woman because, you know, my brother’s happy.

  • david

    Hey, I have the very same problem in my life right now. When i read this article, i was happy and have empathy for you as i can relate. I think you summarized my entire life with this perspective. I was bullied my entire life for no reason. I was called chin, chong, ding, my entire life by Indian people who are assholes and bullied me everyday. I had suffered mentally, emotional, physical breakdowns to the point where i wanted to go after these people and tear them apart. Im sorry to read this about another person when it happened to me as well. I hated a lot of people within my life for being racist, bullying, sexual gender identity, learning disability, fighting, being “Chinese,” for looking at people to long, for not doing my work properly because of stunned growth, bad diet. So i had quite a lot of problems and still do today. Every time i remember the past or get pulled by it, i suffer immensely. I believe I’ve been on both sides of good and bad, loving and hating people. People who think they are cool, do nothing and harassed me in life are not to be seen now. I f**king hate them for what they have done to me and other people who had disadvantages for being immigrants coming to Canada. Why bad people exist i have no idea. Why they get away with it and good people suffer i have no idea. So yes I’m angry for what was done to me in the past by bad people, but i have to learn to forgive them, let everything go, and make myself i better person by doing what i can to help myself become better. I actually hated people for going out to parties, drinking alcohol, doing illegal drugs, bullying, caring about their own reputation for being cool, going after girls, harassing people, not doing their own work, not caring about helping people, the environment, the earth, other defenceless people, poor, learning disability, etc. I actually dont like this article as I suffered myself from useless harassment and bullying and I did the same to other people. Im open to all opinions, comments, criticism. Writing this article made me feel a little bit better so thank you for sharing and inspiring me to write as I’m furious and angry about all the negativity that has happened to me.

  • Government mind controllers

    That’s what is wrong with our planet women being compliment haters, demonizing, criminalizing and harassing men through a satanic and evil law called sexual hassling. And also hating on men who look at them and hating on whistlers. Satan told Americans men who compliment women’s bosoms and cleavages belong in demonic prisons if they return to malls and supermarkets. This blind faith in this lie involves self-deceit and mind control. If Obama and our leaders were truly Christian they wouldn’t want people with drugs in jail and men who compliment cashiers and baristas cleavages and breasts. They please men but not God with laws like those along with caging people who don’t pay taxes, making people homeless and other atrocities people accept as normal like cops murdering murderers and thieves. Everyone will go to hell for calling compliments a crime and whistling street hassling.

  • Ria

    This is an amazing article on a day when I needed it! I consider myself to be an extremely introspective person who tries to never project my own “stuff” onto others and so I am completely bewildered when I am the recipient of other people’s “stuff”, directed at me, in a negative manner. When these things occur though, I always have two thoughts. One thought agrees with every point made in this article, that the person is a “hater”. But then the other thought wonders if it is actually me, it wonders if there is validity in their criticisms of me, if there is a lesson here that I need to learn (even if the delivery was rude or insulting) that maybe they have a point. Maybe I have a blind spot in my self-awareness that they are honing in on. So my question is: how do you know when it is you that needs to grow, or if it is them? How do you know if you are now just projecting your “stuff” right back onto them by calling them a hater? How do you know, definitively, that it is not you, and it is them?

  • Luis Fajardo

    It feels strange saying I have “haters”, seems self-inflated and egotistical. But I have noticed everytime I do something good with myself there’s this unwarranted negativity from people.
    Good read, puts my mind at ease.

  • Charlotte

    Thank you! I got my first really mean comment on my travel blog and I am finding it really difficult not to take it personally. Though this post has helped me to realise that it shows more about them and the kind of person they are and really has nothing to do with me. Thanks!!

  • y3shuA imMANu3l

    ”It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great GOD who made him.”