How to deal with the haters in your life, three easy steps...

We lift as we climb is a powerful mantra that a fellow journalist Della Crews shared with me and a group of business women at a luncheon in Perth Amboy. It was told to her by two teenage sisters from Newark, New Jersey who started an anti-bullying group. "Lifting as we Climb" was also the motto of the National Association of Colored Women who fought hard against the harsh Jim Crow south.  It is my motto too!

This gem of a mantra is worth sharing in a world where it seems that everyone is just out to get a piece and forget the rest. Too many of us are stuck in the crab mentality, that is, let me climb all over you to get out of the bucket. The sad reality it that in the end, no one really gets out, including the crab who pummels hard and fast to get over and knocks the one who was just about to make it out.

How many of us have encountered that attitude over the course of our lives, over the course of our careers? The haters. The deficient thinkers. The desperate ones. This happens all too often but you can fight back. Gracefully. Eloquently. Elegantly.

This topic keeps coming up at my readings: a young woman asked me at how I've been able to create a strong circle of supporters, many of them women. She was inspired seeing and hearing Rosie Perez and Rossana Rosado, two friends who surrounded me at the launch of my book in New York City, speak so lovingly of me and the work that I do. Both Rosie and Rossana showed delight in my recent success. How do you build a circle of cheerleaders that help rather than hurt? How do you deal with the haters?

First, I have seen up and personal the crab mentality and the hurtful ways in which men and women maim to get ahead. It particular, this happens in communities where there isn't enough to go around - folk who have been disenfranchised and are spiritually bankrupt. The ones who have been kept of out the halls of power and influence and want it bad and will get it by any means necessary.

Three ways I deal with the inevitable nasty and continue building a solid circle of support:

  1. Don't engage the nasty, get out of its way and it will bounce back to the hurler. 

Someone advised me a long time ago, when she found out that my book deal was being derailed by a hater, that if I focused the energy of getting back to the woman who was trying to smear the deal, that I would give in to negative energy and thus she would win by taking focus away from what I needed to be doing, writing my book. If instead, I focused on me, and moving me forward, all that negativity would  ricochet back to the person talking smack!  That was a test that was not easy, my initial reaction was to react like they do in the hood where I was raised -- vaseline on my face, hair pulled back and a throw down. But something deep inside told me to listen. It was good I did. I defended myself by talking with an honest tongue to the publisher of my first book. The deal went through. I then turned to writing my book. I ignored the smack. I learned not to engage in the hateful energy saving all of what I had to do me. It works all the time. Focus your energy on building; don't waste it on getting back or destroying.

By the way, eventually, you will see the person/people doing the hatin' fall on his/their pile of vile.  Karma is what happens. Or poetic justice.

     2.   Surround yourself with positive people who are about building.

There are two kinds of people: those who create, those who destroy. I have been very fortunate that I have a strong network of supporters throughout my career -- from grammar school through college and my professional career as a journalist --  and in my family -- who have pulled and rooted for me. Builders. Relatives who are in my corner, friends and colleagues who have put in a good word and propelled me forward.  Builders. Even strangers want to help. How blessed is that? Good folks with offerings --  career and life advise, jobs, tips, opportunities. Lots of loving encouragement. These positive folks have one thing in common: they build and they want to help another builder. You have them in your corner, cherish them. Make time to nurture those relations. Keep positive...

     3.   Lift as you climb:

Nothing better than to see good, solid people rise and help them achieve their potential. If you can be part of someone's success, why not?  If you can help your community move forward, why not? In small ways, whenever I can, I try to push others forward. I lift as I climb!  Imagine if each of us didn't just look out for only only our individual interests but also infused a philosophy of bringing along those who are ready, and willing and excited to keep moving forward? It has been done before to much success -- hello Civil Rights? Hello Women's Lib? It is a utopia that is worth sharing, wishing and helping create. It starts with me but it does not end there.

Oh, one last golden rule:

If you have nothing positive to say, don't say anything

This wise old saying needs no explanation but I have been guilty in the past of engaging in critiques that really were out of line. I learned that gossip is like junk food, it is as delicious and as it is addictive and just as dangerous for the body, for the soul. Each time we gossip, a little light leaves our body. Leave the gossip where it belongs, in the trash and don't dirty your beautiful mouth and heart with bochinche.