Last Monday I got a frantic call from my mother. She breathlessly told me, "There's someone on your Facebook fan page writing nasty things about you! But don't worry, honey, I responded and set her straight." I laughed and said, "Thanks for sticking up for me, Mom, but that's not how I handle negativity on the Internet." I went on to explain that as a spiritual student and teacher I must practice what I preach. By bringing my spiritual practice to these situations I intuitively know how to handle haters on the Internet. I helped my mother understand that engaging in the negativity only invests in the negativity. Rather than defend myself and fight back, I've learned to see these encounters as divine spiritual assignments. Through compassion, defenselessness and forgiveness, I've come to see how mindfully dealing with Internet haters can only strengthen my spiritual faith.
As the universe would have it, that wouldn't be my only conversation about Internet haters that week. The following day I was in Chicago, shooting a segment of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. What was one of Oprah's first questions to my panel? She asked how we handle haters on the Internet! My immediate responses was, "Forgive and delete." I explained how I use forgiveness and several other spiritual principles to shine light on the darkness of the Internet.
If you're anything like my mother, it's time to put down the boxing gloves and use my three spiritual tools for handling haters online.
Step 1: It's Not About You
When people attack us on the Internet, many of us immediately assume that the attack has merit and means there's something wrong with us. I choose to have a different perspective -- I like to have compassion for these folks. Let's face it: A happy person won't waste their time posting negativity on positive people's pages. Therefore, we must have a tremendous amount of compassion for these people. Anyone who wastes their time and energy spreading negativity clearly needs more light in their life. Begin your practice by saying a prayer for the person. Simply say, "I pray for you to release your negativity and see love instead. I pray for you to be happy." This prayer will immediately reconnect you to a sense of compassion and help you let go of your anger.
Step 2: "In My Defenselessness My Safety Lies"
As a student and a teacher of the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles, I've come to learn that "insistence means investment." When we invest in the illusions of others by defending ourselves or fighting back, we only invest deeper into the craziness. Engaging in negativity creates more of it. Therefore, instead of fighting back or becoming defensive, I remind myself of the course's message, "In my defenselessness my safety lies." Choosing to release defensiveness helps us steer far away from creating more drama. Fighting back is like yelling at a barking dog. There's no good outcome. Instead, practice defenselessness and witness how much energy and time you save avoiding more drama.
Step 3: Forgive and Delete
The final step is the clutch move. As I said to Oprah, we must forgive and delete. Oprah was pretty psyched to learn that we can actually manage our social media fans. Though we don't have full control over what people say, we can block nasty people and hide hateful comments. But rather than block and hide with an energy of resentment, let's forgive first. Forgiveness helps us detach from the negative energy cord that can live even through the Twittersphere or the Facebook universe. Energy is in everything. If we don't clean up our energy through forgiveness, we'll continue to carry negativity. In the case of handling haters on the Internet, it's imperative that you practice the F word and forgive.
Steps one and two will prime for forgiveness. Compassion will reconnect you to a sense of oneness and defenselessness, which will help you put down the boxing gloves and settle into a new perspective. The final step is to let go fully and forgive. In this step you'll use prayer once again. Simply say, "I pray to forgive you and release you." Then feel free to block the user or hide the comment. If you have the power to clear the feed, let that become part of your practice. There's no reason to let negative comments linger. Simply forgive and delete.
Practice Positive Posting
These three steps will help you navigate negative comments on the Internet, but what's most important is to practice raising the positive energy around you. Where there is darkness, we need to bring more light. Therefore, join me in 30 Days of Positive Posting. Commit to refrain completely from negative posts and only share positivity. Post your favorite quotes, retweet inspiring nuggets of wisdom, Instagram enlightening photos, and pin beautiful pictures that make you smile. Our greatest response to negative posts is a positive one. If we all join together to share more positivity and love on the Internet, the energy of love will heighten. And when love spreads, there's less space for negativity. Join us on November 18 for Super Soul Sunday and keep us posted on how your 30 days of positive posting shifts your energy and your life.
Tune in this Sunday for my interview with Oprah on the Emmy-winning show, Super Soul Sunday at 11am ET/PT on OWN. Details here.
Gabrielle Bernstein is the author of Spirit Junkie, Add More ~ing to Your Life and the forthcoming book May Cause Miracles. She is also the founder of HerFuture.com. For more about Gabrielle visit www.gabbyb.tv/home
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