It’s easy to get anonymous people to hate you. It’s easy: Have an opinion. Be creative. Be yourself.That’s all it takes for them to start hating. But sometimes it gets worse. I’ve had death threats, legal threats, I’ve lost friends, even family, over things I’ve written. I’ve lost the respect of many I still respect. Articles get written then people hate me even more. I wanted to like these people in some cases. 20 year friendships. Friends I thought I would have forever. Now… gone.
Most haters are just invisible, anonymous, just trying to get in your head because that’s THEIR particular method of having a human connection. No matter what we do in life, we get some people who hate us, who make fun of us, who gossip about us, who backstab us, who take money from us or do something to try and ruin our reputation, who threaten us, who tease us, who frighten us.
SO LISTEN TO ME: these are the rules how to deal with haters – the anonymous ones, the ones in your face, the ones at work, the ones you can’t avoid, family, and people you love. It’s hard to do. Sometimes I can’t do them. But bit by bit I get better at these rules. And when I get better, I can see better results in my life. I hope you will also.
I) IT’S ABOUT THEM
This is a bit of a cliche but it’s true. Behind every Anger is a Fear. Whoever hates, is also afraid of something. This doesn’t mean you say, “poor baby, he’s just afraid.” But it’s just worth noting. Maybe her fear is of being poor and miserable and so she hears someone saying that to her no matter who is talking. This is her problem in life right now. Often people say, “oh, don’t worry, they are just jealous.” Maybe they are. Maybe they aren’t. We can never read their minds.
It’s none of my business why someone thinks something of me. But something is going on in their lives that is bringing up a fear. And they indulge the fear by having an anger towards you. Anger is just fear indulged.
II) IT ALSO REALLY IS ABOUT YOU
Most people who hate me I never even think about. But some haters push buttons. Some accidentally know how to get under my skin. Or not accidentally. Like when a family member hates you and knows EXACTLY what buttons to press (“you never bathe”, etc). When someone pushes a button, I get angry and maybe even defensive. But it’s NOT because they said something horrible. It’s because under the fleshy armor of rage, I’m afraid they might be right.
I might not even admit this to myself. They put the knife in, after all, so I can accuse them. But the reality is I might be twisting the knife in even further. Take the above example again. I pulled it out from 100s I could’ve used. Not because it was particularly mean. But I just realized I then told you a story of what happened to me in seventh grade when a girl made fun of my voice. So maybe I really am afraid I have some weird sort of voice. I don’t know. It’s just worth noting to myself. When all you do is “note” something to yourself, it at least separates it out from the non-stop chatter in the head. It lets you identify it and put it in it’s own special cage. This makes it easier to identify and deal with and maybe even learn something about yourself.
III) THE 24 HOUR RULE
If someone attacks you in any way, you might get bad feelings. If it’s a public attack then others might get bad feelings. People will say, “Jane said this about James so he must be an idiot.” Or it might an office politics attack. Or an attack in a relationship. The 24 Hour Rule works in almost every case. If you never respond to the initial attack, it goes away in 24 hours. If you respond EVEN ONCE, then reset the clock. It’s another 24 hours as it spreads through the spider web of human interaction.
This is why some battles go on for years. Nobody stops responding. The attack continues until one person dies. And as the Onion states: World Mortality Rate Holds Steady At 100%.
IV) THE 30/30/30 RULE
I had a few posts where I stole the same image of a woman doing yoga poses on a beach. I got some criticism for always using images of a sexy woman. I also got criticism for taking the images and not giving credit. Then the woman in the images actually wrote me. I told her I was getting this criticism. She told me her whole beautiful story which I included in my last book. But one thing she said was that for every creative thing you do: 1/3 will love you, 1/3 will hate you, and 1/3 won’t care.
Which means you should do what you love. You should do the best you can. You should try to do the things that will help you improve every day. And when bad comments come, just put them in that 1/3 bucket where it belongs.
I’m always happy when someone disagrees with me. I don’t mind that. But often people are incapable of expressing disagreement and it comes out in a way that is obnoxious or hateful. When I can, I delete them. I can put “delete” in quotes. Sometimes its not a blog commenter but someone in real life. I delete them also. I don’t speak to people who are bad for me. What if it’s a boss or someone you have to speak to? Well, I don’t engage with them. I let them do their thing. I nod hello in the hallways. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass to get them to like me, not even my daughters. Everyone gets their time in the “time out” box. And eventually, they can come out again if they behave.
What if it’s someone screaming at you on the phone? Just do this: “I have to go”. That’s worked against me, particularly when I was younger and wanted to scream more. “Why are you DOING THIS TO ME!?” And it felt very painful. But it made me behave better next time.
VI) HATE IS CONTAGIOUS
Someone tweeted awhile ago: “James Altucher = #humangarbage”. I don’t know why he tweeted it. I didn’t know who he was. But I got angry for a second. I didn’t follow any of the above commandments. I looked him up. He works at AOL. I tried to figure out how to get him fired. He made his one tweet but then it gave me maybe 1000 thoughts. The worst thing you can do to your body is stab it. Anger is an emotional stab at your emotional body. Some religions say you should show compassion to your enemies. I don’t know. This is really hard to do.
The best I can do is recognize that I don’t know this person, and that every additional thought is another way for me to stab myself. Then the infection spreads inside of me, consumes me. I don’t like to stab myself.
VII) YOU’LL NEVER KNOW
I could’ve contacted the guy and said, “I just need to know: why do you think I am human garbage.” But this is one of those death bed moments. People have said, “I am really glad I found out why that random stranger called me human garbage” on their death bed exactly zero times in the history of the universe.
There’s no need to know. And even if you do finally know…it will always turn out there was no good reason.
VIII) RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
Let’s say someone does actually have a reason for hating you. And it’s easy to refute. Like they hate you because you are from Rhode Island but actually you are from Canada. You can say, “But I’m from Canada” and they will say, “Ugh, that’s even worse.” Nobody ever changes their mind. Change is hard. Quitting cigarettes is very hard, almost impossible for many people. Hating is even more addictive so imagine how hard it is to change someone’s mind. Facts don’t matter. Defending yourself makes it worse (see the 24 Hour Rule).
Even a history of friendship doesn’t matter. You can say, “We’ve been friends for 20 years. Are you really going to let this get in the way of that?” And the answer is “Yes.” Because they can’t help themselves. Because it’s about some fear they have. Because it’s about some fear you have. And never the twain shall meet.
IX) THEY LOOK STUPID HAVING SEX
That’s all you ever really need to know about your haters. They all grunt and drool and look stupid. If all you do is think of this rule about someone who hates you, then you can ignore all of the other rules.
X) TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS
Hate can’t last forever. Often it turns into a dull simmer. The sun that was so bright at noon, becomes a haze of purples and deep orange by twilight. This doesn’t mean that you and the hater are now friends. It just means that the wound that was opened will eventually close up, and leave a tiny scar, a reminder but nothing more. Whether it was a betrayal. An ex-partner. An ex-lover. A commenter on a blog. The key is to practice shortening the time.
You do this with the other nine commandments above. You do this with the daily practice of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health I recommend in my book. I say “the daily practice” not because I want you to buy my book. Don’t buy it. It’s so easy you don’t need to read anything other than the above paragraph.
Do all this and the hate passes right through you. It’s hard to avoid all the haters. They are in your face sometimes. But you can do these methods. For some people hate and anger and bitterness and regret last for years. Sometimes the time it takes to heal a wound lasts longer than a lifetime. This is a waste of a lifetime.That’s ok also. Nobody is requiring you to have a fulfilling life. It’s totally your choice to waste your life.
And since many people will hate you as you stick your head out of the sand again and again (as I hope you do), you will have many opportunities to ruin your life. Enjoy them. Sometimes (not every time) the more people who hate you, the more it means you are getting out of the comfort zone. You are creating and growing.
But hopefully your woulds heal more and more quickly. I say “your” but I really mean “me”. I hope my wounds every day heal more quickly than the day before. I wrote this post for me. When a hater takes his or her stab, I try to use the above techniques to maybe learn about myself. And if I can’t learn a lot then maybe I can learn a little. And if I can’t learn a little, then at least I will try to avoid getting sick.
And if I don’t get sick, then I will try to be thankful. And I move onto the next thing I can do. The next place where I will try to find love, creativity, and fulfillment.