HLS Session – Rising Above Negativity

One of the most interesting sessions I attended at the Healthy Living Summit was Rising above Negativity” led by Heather, Julie, Courtney, and Brittany.  I think I found it so interesting because I was curious how these bloggers deal with the negative comments they get on their blogs.

The negative comments I have gotten have been few and far between.  More often, they’re more snarky, than actually mean.  I haven’t really felt personally attacked by them.

But just because I don’t get the negative comments some bloggers get (yet) or the quantity that they get, doesn’t mean I can’t benefit from a lesson in overcoming negativity once in a while. I tend to let negative comments, intentional or otherwise, take over my thoughts.  Before long I’m wondering if they’re true, even when I know that they’re not.

I really admire people who don’t let other people’s opinions get the best of them.  I’ve always cared, maybe too much, about what others think.  So even though I went into the “Rising above Negativity” session with the idea that I would learn how to deal with negative blog comments in the future, I left with important lessons that could be used in dealing with negativity in everyday life.

Here are four things I took away from the session:

1. Don’t respond immediately to negative comments. 

Blogging takeaway: If you get a negative comment, take several hours or a day to decide how and if to respond.  If you act in the heat of the moment, you may not handle your response in the most tactful way.  It’s best to approach nastiness with a clear head.  Things always look better in the morning, right?

Real-life takeaway: If someone says something mean to you, it’s easy to quip back with something equally mean.  But, if you think about what they said for a bit and allow yourself to mull it over, you may see things differently.  What if you took it the wrong way? What if they are mortified and want to apologize for what they said?

Now, sometimes people are just mean or oblivious to how their words sting and this needs to be brought to their attention.  Giving some thought to how you want to address this can’t be a bad thing.  By giving it some time, you can address the issue better because you’re emotions aren’t so raw.  If this relationship is important to you, overreacting will not help matters.  Give yourself some time before you respond.

2. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? 

Blogging takeaway: It’s kind of like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  When commenting on other blogs, ask yourself this question before making any comments.  This will keep you from making a negative comment yourself.  But in the event that the tables have turned and you are on the receiving end of a negative comment, I think it’s helpful to ask these questions of your response.  Kill them with kindness, if you will.

Comment: I tried your recipe and it turned out awful.
Response: I reviewed the recipe and don’t believe I left anything out of the ingredients or directions.  Did you have trouble following the directions? If so, feel free to email me and maybe we can figure out what went wrong.  I’ve been making this recipe for years and my family loves it.  However, maybe it’s just not suited to your taste.

Real-life takeaway: As someone who often suffers from foot-in-mouth disease, I could save myself some heartache and mortification by sticking to verbal comments that only fit this criteria. And can you imagine what it might be like if you asked these questions of the comments you say to yourself? As someone who periodically struggles with self-imposed negativity, I could definitely benefit by banishing any self-talk that isn’t kind, true, or necessary.  

3. You create your own reality. 

This was my favorite thing that I heard at this session and comes courtesy of Caitlin.  

Blogging takeaway: Someone (I wish I could remember who) said that your blog is like your castle.  I guess that makes the comment approval widget like the castle moat. People don’t have the right to make negative comments on your blog, so only you get to decide what comments get published and which are trashed.  If the comment is a little harsh, but the author had a point, you might decide to publish the comment.  However, if you’re getting comments that attack you, your family or friends, you shouldn’t feel bad about hitting the “delete” button on their comment.

Furthermore, if negative comments become a problem, there’s a strategy for making sure the person can no longer comment.

Often, nasty comments are penned by “anonymous” with some bogus email address.  More often than not, a nasty comment isn’t the first comment that a person has written, which can be identified with the IP address.

Here is a comment I wrote in response to someone else.  And below my email address (which I’ve blacked out because it’s my personal email address) is my IP address.

In WordPress, if I copy and paste the IP address from the comment into my search bar (top right corner), all of the comments with that unique IP address appear.  If the comments are nasty and I no longer want to see them, I can block them by going into Settings –> Discussion –> Moderation.  Then putting the IP address in the text box for “Black List”.  So if the person has ever commented before (and they probably have), you could find out.  Even if their past comments have been, “You’re pretty and you smell nice,” their IP address will give them away.

This person could hypothetically switch computers and continue to make nasty comments and that would make them certifiably crazy. Just sayin’.

Real Life Takeaway: It would be really nice if each person had a mouth IP address which you could block from ever saying something negative or nasty in real life, but sadly that does not exist.  However, I really believe that this can work in real life as well.  Unless you’re forced to be in this person’s presence regularly (like at work), you can choose to not let that person be a part of your reality.  Have a friend that gives you little jabs now and then? Stop being their friend.  You can choose whether or not to actually address the matter. That’s completely up to you.  But you don’t have to be friends or spend time with someone who constantly tears you down.  The same goes for romantic relationships.  You are the gatekeeper of the people who come into your life.  If your blog is “your castle”, how much more sacred is your real life?  This goes for negative self-talk too.  You choose the people you want in your life and you also choose the thoughts that fill your mind. You make your own reality.  Now what do you want that reality to be?

4. Comment Policy

Blogging Takeaway: The lovely ladies who comprised the panel suggested that if you’re going to delete comment, you should have a comment policy that is easy to find on your blog (perhaps a side bar or on the about page?).  A good example of a comment policy can be found on J’s Everyday Fashion. I do not have a comment policy, but I think this is a good idea. I’ll definitely write one if I find myself wanting to delete comments because they’re hurtful.

Real Life Takeaway: This might sound like the second part of “you create your own reality”, because it is.  You know that friend who makes jabs at you, every once in a while or that coworker who belittles your ideas? You might not be ready to ignore their phone calls, because you’ve been through a lot together.  You might have to work with this person every day.  That doesn’t mean you have to put up with their behavior. Just like you can say, “If you put this comment on my blog, I’m going to delete it.”  You can also say, “Hey, that’s kind of disrespectful. Please do not speak to me that way.”  It’s like a comment policy for real life.

Are you a naturally positive person or do you sometimes get bogged down with negativity? 

How do you overcome negativity (in real life or otherwise)?