*AWAP = As Well As Possible

Today’s AWAP Wednesday post is about the haters. You know the ones:

  • The friend who gives you side-eye when you start talking about your journaling process and how it helps you cope with the unknown elements of life with chronic illness.
  • The co-worker who periodically asks why you get to come in late on Wednesdays, even when he knows you have a standing doctor appointment early Wednesday mornings… and that you always stay late to make up for the time.
  • The neighbor who glares when you park in your handicapped spot, most likely because you don’t use an assistive device—even though you’ve explained that you have that spot because of invisible illness. (And: the random dude in the big-box store parking lot who glares or even shouts at you for parking in a handicapped spot.)
  • The acquaintance who, at a party, tries to explain to you and everyone in earshot that she read something online that discredits the existence of your chronic illness.
  • The stranger who writes you nasty blog post comments because you’re just too darn happy in spite of illness. (Yea, I see you, haters!)

We all have haters in our lives.

Now, they probably don’t actually hate us… but they sure aren’t showing us any love, either.

I have two perspectives for you to consider regarding haters:

1. They’re hatin’ because of their own insecurity, or stress, or history with illness or disability, or something else that’s ALL THEM.

It doesn’t get more complicated than that. If someone knows you even the smallest bit and chooses to hate on you for doing your best even if you’re sick, well, something is wrong with them. They may be under a great deal of stress and it pains them to see you excel; they might have struggled with illness or injury at another time and resent how well you’re handling your own experience. They might have a family member with a similar illness who isn’t being very ChronicBabe-like, and they’re projecting that person’s experience onto you. They may see you and fear that they themselves will become ill, and it scares them.

There are innumerable reasons why someone is a hater. And all those reasons most likely don’t have a thing to do with you—and instead have everything to do with the hater’s experience.

This is where I give a shout-out do Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. (I consider this book required ChronicBabe reading.) One of the four is this: “Don’t take anything personally.” Easier said than done, I know! But it gets easier with practice.

When you move through life with the knowledge that most people’s actions have nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own hangups, it’s easier to brush off their bad behavior.

Oh yea, it will feel personal, for sure. How can it not, at first glance? Someone is hatin’ on you for being YOU. But take my word for it: It’s almost never personal.

It’s not your job to delve deep into the experience of a hater, but it will benefit you to step back when you can and get a little perspective. Remind yourself that this person doesn’t know you, doesn’t understand you, or can’t hear you—and their own life must have a lot of ugliness in it if they have enough to spare.

The more you practice this, the easier it is to brush off all that hatin’.

2. You don’t have to listen to that crap.

Let’s say you know the hater well, and you know they have had a rough life. They have a family member who is sick and not taking action on ways to get better. Someone kicked their puppy once. Whatever. This knowledge gives you perspective and helps you understand that their hatin’ is not personal. Great! You have some clarity.

But you don’t have to listen to that crap.

Just because you understand someone who is treating you poorly doesn’t give them license to walk all over you. Set some boundaries; don’t let them treat you like that. Change the subject. If you must, walk away. Don’t take their crap.

Let’s say it’s a stranger who’s hatin’ and you don’t know a thing about them, but you’re feeling very compassionate and you recognize that they must have something else going on that’s driving their actions. That’s lovely of you! Great perspective.

But you don’t have to listen to that crap.

Wish that hater a nice day and excuse yourself. Don’t engage them in conversation. If you don’t feel energetic, by all means do not try to teach them why they’re wrong; you need to preserve that vital energy for yourself and the people you adore. Walk away from a hater. Don’t take their crap.

Some activists will argue with me, saying we should educate haters in order to build a stronger community.

There’s some validity to that, for sure. If I didn’t agree, I wouldn’t have kept ChronicBabe.com going for 10 years—and I certainly wouldn’t do so much advocacy work. But just because we’re sick, and just because we choose to strive beyond the limitations of our illnesses, doesn’t mean we owe the world an education.

If you feel strong, and have the mental and physical resources, yes! Be an advocate. Engage in conversation. Write a blog. Wear a t-shirt that invites dialogue.

But don’t you ever feel obligated to do that, babe. Priority numero uno for you is to take the best care of yourself possible, and if that means preserving your energy for fun things and people you love, do it.

Some days you’ll feel strong. Some days you’ll want to hide under the covers. It’s all OK. Don’t give the haters your energy, babe.

Now it’s your turn:

Have you experienced someone hatin’ on your process? Your expression? How have you handled those encounters, what works and what doesn’t? Join the conversation in the comments below, share your experience and ask for advice from our community.

Want more AWAP Wednesday? Check out our AWAP Wednesday video playlist, which has almost seven hours of guidance, advice, and bloopers. (Usually I post a video, but just wasn’t feeling it today.)

Is there a question I can answer for YOU? Add it to the comments below, or shoot me an email.

Until we meet again: Be AWAP! Smooches!