Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Power: Reclaiming It From The Hands Of Life's Bullies

For as long as I can remember, I've measured my worth as a person by other peoples opinions of me.

From the little girls who used to pick on me because of my pale skin and goofy teeth in primary school, to the man I lived with for several years who physically attacked me on a regular basis.... and every other bully in between.

What other people thought of me was the entire basis for the value I placed on myself for a long time.

Other people didn't like didn't want to play with me, girls at school didn't want to sit next to me in French class, even my fiance told me I was I considered myself worthless too. I hated myself, because I felt like everybody else hated me.

But over the past few years, I've been working on improving my self worth.

I started going to weekly therapy sessions around 3 years ago - and with the help of two different therapists using two different techniques as well as a lot of self-help books and conscious mind work, I started  - slowly - to feel better about things.

I knew that my confidence was slowly starting to increase. I knew that I was becoming a bit less anxious in social situations. And I knew that life was starting to feel more enjoyable.

But it wasn't until I stumbled across a hate thread about me on an internet forum dedicated to trolling bloggers, that I was given the ultimate test.

When I first saw my name on that forum - my heart skipped a beat.

This was the moment I'd dreaded for years. What horrible posts would be waiting there?! What awful things were people saying about me?!

I debated for a minute or two about clicking on to it but self control is not my strong point, and so...I clicked.

My heart was pounding as I nervously scrolled through...reading comment after comment....waiting to find one that would trigger a flow of tears, or send me into a panic attack.

But as I reached the end of the thread....several pages worth of anonymous people talking about what they didn't like about me and my life...I realised something that shocked me more than anything I could have possibly read there.


No rage. No tears. No panic attack. Not even any anger.

I truly felt nothing at all.

At first I felt confused about my lack of emotional response.

I have always been the sort of person who crumbles at the first sign of conflict. I have an emotional reaction to any slight disagreement, it's just the way I've always been.

How could I possibly have just scrolled through several pages of comments where people were discussing everything from not believing that my mental health or physical illnesses are real, to accusing me of not doing enough to home educate my son....even childish insults about my teeth and my weight were in there.

But not one of them made me feel a thing.

I thought about it for a while....and then I realised what this strange feeling I was experiencing actually was.

This complete disregard for the opinion of others about who I am and how I live my life....this emotional detachment from their meaningless words and opinions.

This was what self-worth feels like.

This was what people meant by "taking your power back".

The power that I had always allowed people to have over my feelings of self worth was no longer theirs to was mine to hold on to.

Reading through those comments was like reading about a fictional character.

These people - who watch 15 minutes of my life each day on social media, see an occasional photograph or read a blog post a couple of times a month and think that gives them a true insight in to my life and how I spend my time  - they were talking absolute rubbish.

There wasn't an ounce of truth in any of their accusations - I dismissed each one with the knowledge that they were based on nothing but ignorance, misunderstanding and the assumption that what they're not explicitly shown must simply not exist.

 Their words held no power because they were based entirely on an imagined truth, about a two-dimensional character that they see online and think that they know - not the multi-faceted real person that I am, or the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of my day that isn't shared online.

And honestly? The realisation that I was no longer allowing my self-worth to be dictated by other peoples meaningless opinions felt like a HUGE achievement.

Instead of leaving me a sobbing emotional mess like I thought it would, reading that hate thread actually left me with the most incredible feeling of absolute empowerment.

Of wasn't all good news. As an empath I have always found myself far more affected by the mistreatment of other people than by my own experiences, and this was no exception - I found it incredibly upsetting to read through the many threads about other people and take in the abuse being thrown at them.

From threads bashing some of my very good friends about things that I know would be very hurtful to them, to threads pulling apart absolute strangers to me - I found every single one that I read to be incredibly depressing and I spent a few nights in tears at the hate I was reading through but also feeling completely powerless to stop reading.

I was in absolute disbelief that people could stoop so low as to talk about other women in the way that they were.

And when transphobic comments began to appear about my gender-creative 4 year old, it started to become much more difficult to it served as a reminder (not that I needed one) of how poorly understood gender issues in children are and how much judgement people harbour, as well as a reminder of the sort of hate my child is likely to have to deal with growing up and for their entire life.

And then, more recently, came a comment claiming to be from someone who knows me personally, discussing how "self obsessed" I am. And although their claim to know me in recent years but no longer be in contact with me doesn't actually fit anyone I know , it was very upsetting nonetheless.

As someone who has always struggled to feel liked and accepted, this sort of thing is my worst fear. The thought that other people don't really like me and that my friends merely tolerate me is exactly the kind of thing that my anxiety tells me on a regular it's very difficult to have this happen, and it makes me doubt everybody I know.

And I won't lie...this has had a real impact on my confidence.

And that sucks. Because  I had started off so well....I felt so empowered by not allowing their hate to get to me, and I've worked really hard to overcome those confidence and self worth issues for so many years now, and it feels really unfair that a spiteful person would think it right to take that away.

But here's what I've realised.

Being hurt and admitting it is not a sign of weakness.  It's actually a sign of strength.

Unfortunately, there will always be horrible and ignorant people in the world.

There will always be those that think it their right to judge other people without having walked in their footsteps....without having any true understanding of their life, their motivation or what goes on behind closed doors.

There will always be people who are so discontent and unhappy in their own lives, that they feel the need to take that misery out on other people.

There will always be people who don't like us....but that's ok, people don't have to like us and we don't have to care.

And there will always be people who are determined to spend their lives adding nothing of good to the world, but instead just filling it with more negative energy.

But they can't be allowed to become the focus.

I've blocked the website on all devices now so I can't access it again and my focus has to switch.

The focus HAS to be on the good things in life, and the good people.

So I'm trying to focus on the positivity that situations like this bring about.

For a while now I've felt that my anxiety was becoming difficult to manage again, and my mental health has been declining - I've been putting off having more counselling, but this has given me a push to finally do it.

There is nothing wrong with knowing when we need help and asking for it.

And thankfully - there are far more kind-hearted, positive people in the world than there are negative cave dwellers.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I've been truly blown away to realise just how many of those amazing people I'm blessed to know and have in my circle.

I've decided that the only logical way to counteract negativity like this, is to make a conscious effort to put more kindness into the world.

And that's what I'm going to be focusing on going forwards.

Research shows that kindness has a positive effect on the mind and body, which is the antidote to'd think laughter or happiness were the antidote to sadness wouldn't you?! But apparently they don't produce the opposite physiological effects of sadness...but kindness does.

So I'm going to make an effort to do at least 1 kind thing per may be something as simple as complimenting someone, or it may be as lavish as paying for someones shopping if I'm feeling flush enough.

Just as long as I'm doing something every day to consciously create more kindness in the world.

Because I'll be damned if I let these nasty people and negativity win.

And so to end this post, I've created a little collage full of some of the beautiful, positive little phrases that people have sent my way over the last couple of weeks.

I've got it saved as my screensaver, to look back at whenever the negative voices of the world start to creep remind me of how little they matter in the bigger picture.

I hope that you'll find these little phrases as inspiring and uplifting as I do.

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