Yesterday, we took a look at why people kick you when you're down. I've seen it happen in every social media situation: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, forums (remember those?) and every other forum in between.
The kicking can be as extreme as berating a mother for being on Twitter when her son drowned to mocking you with blog posts or on social media to something as mundane as a rash of unfriending.
But what do you do after someone kicks you when you're down?
Sadly, even with a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology and having spent thousands of hours with therapy clients, I can only shrug my shoulders. Outside of a vague 'grieve', I have no idea. I don't think Freud or Jung or Adler or Satire had any inkling social media was on it's way to provide virtually anonymous intimate interactions with strangers.
And still what do you do?
Because I was at a loss, I turned to my buddy Michele Woodward again.
How do you deal with it?
"First, don't have toxic people in your life who can't honestly and openly and frequently communicate their inner selves."
This is easier said than done, of course. It does, however, allow us to set some limits. It also gives us a definition of toxic people that's useful in modern life. It's hard to find people who are honest and open. It's even harder to find people who communicate their inner selves. But how many friends do you really need?
"Second, realize that whatever they're saying is much more about them than about you."
Of course, we all know this is true. That doesn't make the words and actions any less painful. And still, when all is said and done, you'll remember this in your reflections. People are
just bumbling along in this life. Even if they are cruel, they are usually only venting how they feel about themselves upon you.
Or better said: "I'm rubber, you're glue. Your words bounce off me and stick to you." (You have my permission to add a little tongue sticking out. But that's just me.)
Of course, Michele is more mature than I am. She has something else for us to do.
Third, your friends in life will shift and change - but the best friends you ever have will tell you the tough stuff and will love you when you're vulnerable.
This is where I get stuck. I don't want to say 'good-bye' to people. I've lost a lot of people in my life. I hate to say good-bye to more, sadly, even if they are toxic. I try to remember "Show me your friends, I'll show you your future" and only hang around with people who are going where I want to go.
When it comes to saying good-bye? Shuddering. It's very hard. And she's right. Relationships run their course. People come and go. Some of being an adult is learning to accept and celebrate those who come, and those who leave.
Michele has one last parting thought for us:
Focus on those good people.
Negative people and negative experiences are almost the heroin of emotions. Our unattended minds can't help but focus on negativity because they are so charged.
And, no matter the uproar or difficulty, most people are not bullies. They aren't cruel. They don't go out of their way to say horrible things. They just don't. To focus on the few people who are mean is to simple ignore most of what's going on around you.
In the future, I'll follow Michele's four part plan. It's just the smart thing to do.
If you'd like to check out Michele, you can usually find her on her blog. She has a long the list credentials and is worth listening to. She's currently running an amazing coaching group for motivated people. (I'm not an affiliate, but I am a great deal afficianado.) If you're are looking for a coach, you won't find a better one than Michele. Pinky swear.