Maybe you’ve felt it too: your current job isn’t cutting it. You’re tired of working for someone else and not seeing the benefits of your hard work. Or maybe your old ways of solely dedicating yourself to please others and gaining approval from your family and friends is no longer what you want.
You see that there is more out there for you and you’re tired of being held into place with the fear that people will consider you as “selfish.”
There are plenty of people who don’t want to see you change. They don’t want to see you succeed. Call them haters, doubters, or naysayers. Whatever you call them, you’re going to hear from them and their criticism of you as you continue to serve you.
The psychology of “haters”
Why do people “hate” on other people’s success or attempts at success? Well, the simple answer is jealousy and a glimpse of self-reflection. You’re doing something they wish they could do. Your changes are forcing them to make changes and they don’t like it. They are uncomfortable with your actions.
Your changes are a threat to them and who they believe they are. By showing them there are other ways to live, they have to see a reality that shows them they have more options on how to live than they once realized.
People don’t like change and you’re putting them in a position to change.
We’re ok with people we see as “less than” getting ahead
Everybody cheers on someone who they see as less fortunate as them. People who are seeking GEDs are encouraged to make better for themselves. People who grow up poor are supported in getting that stable job or being able to contribute to society. If we have a college degree, we warmly accept others to attain that degree and get something similar to what we already have.
So what gives?
The problem comes when we see people who are our “equals” get something we don’t have and something we want too. Once we see people who are in line with our education, economic status, and insight get more and do more than we have, we wonder what’s wrong with us. The answer is nothing. But our minds want to find something wrong with them. This is the impulse to tear others down.
The answer is nothing. But our minds want to find something wrong with them. This is the impulse to tear others down.
She stood up to her family
I know someone who has been verbally abused and put down in subtle (and not so subtle) ways her entire life. Her chosen studies in college don’t match the family “norm” of getting that “functional” degree that would allow her to have that traditional, secure job.
She decided not to go that route and instead has pursued her love of the performing arts. To her family, she is wasting her time. She has been ostracized and criticized by her family for doing something she loves to do.
Not only is she doing her own thing career-wise, but she is finally standing up to them and their abusive behavior. She’s drawing firm boundaries and is not tolerating their usual put-downs and insults anymore. They hate it and don’t know how to react this “new” person.
Where is the daughter who just took the blame and criticism? Where is the black sheep that can reinforce their smug and condescending viewpoints? Without her filling her old role, her family members now have to do their own changing and their own self-reflection.
And they don’t like it.
We’ve all got a bit of “hater” in us
Yep. Stings a bit but it’s true. We all have a part of us that wants to remain the same, play our old roles, blame others, gossip, and point fingers. When the people around us change, it forces us to change and take a look at ourselves. When we can see ourselves as free and autonomous beings we can no longer play the victim to our circumstances.
Maybe we’re not all obnoxious haters. Maybe we notice our own “hater” in the form of jealousy, when we hear someone disagree with us, or when someone with a different opinion that shows us that “we might not be right after all.”
It’s just human to turn away from seeing ourselves as possibly wrong, flawed, or lacking. So, of course, we come up with ways that keep us “in the right.”
Our inner hater comes alive
When we start to see people around us change, the ones who used to be there as stable figures in our lives, we start to doubt ourselves. They don’t reassure us anymore. Those people change and are no longer there to tell us that we are “right” or we are “ok in where we are.”
We can all relate to this. It doesn’t feel good to self-reflect but this is a part of growth. This is part of maturation.
These people who are changing around us are helping us see a different reality than the one we’ve been accustomed to living through. Just as you are helping people around you see a different reality.
We already know haters in our lives. They are some of the voices in us. We’ve been hearing them all of our lives.
“You should know your place.” “You aren’t good enough.” “Who do you think you are going after what you want?”
The outside haters are echoing the same things we’ve been hearing in our heads all along. When those two voices meet, we think our worst fears are true—”maybe, I’m not good enough” or “maybe I can’t make it on my own.” (Read more on the “inner critic”).
Watch the haters come out when you make your move. You begin setting boundaries with friends and family. You start your own business, create that blog, or stop old negative behaviors. Your ghosts of the past come out. Your old voices of doubt are now joined with the haters in your life that tell you, you can’t do it.
You feel like you’ve been hit in the gut. But it’s all just an illusion. The old is being replaced by the new and the old you is resisting just as much as those people criticizing you aloud.
Recognize the dance and don’t play the old game.
You’ve already started the healing process by letting yourself do the things that serve you. Those old voices that have been there telling you “you can’t” aren’t going anywhere. What if you accepted them?
They are nothing more than old servants that were in place to help keep you safe. They tell you before you take risk that you’re not going to be ok. “Better watch out. The world is a hateful place.”
Putting yourself out there is scary. It’s downright terrifying. When you take risk, there’s a chance people will reject you. People might criticize you. People might not even like you. But these self-critical voices have served their purpose and you don’t need them anymore.
What these old voices need is acceptance. They need healing. Instead of rejecting these old thoughts, love them. And though they no longer serve you, they are still part of you. They are part of your story. Part of your human experience.
The haters you come across are just like you. They need room and space to move out of the old ways, the old paradigm. They don’t need your energy attention, they just need acceptance for where they are in their process of figuring it out.
And when they do, you’ll be able to welcome them into the new—just like you’ve done for yourself.
Photo: Alexandre Normand/Flickr
This piece originally appeared on John Harrison Counseling.