There are big gifts to doing things online, such as the freedom and the ability to reach so many people at a time, but there are also sacrifices. And a big sacrifice I've experienced more times than I can count is online criticism.
Now to those of who are carry bleeding hearts, it can feel like a very difficult thing. It is scary and it stings. And so, how do we handle that? How do we allow the online criticism not to destroy us, but to make us better?
We can learn how to set up boundaries, so that criticism doesn't wound us, but we can extract the value from it and keep moving.
That has been a big story in my entrepreneurial journey and I am going to let you into ten ways you can use to deal with online criticism whether it is constructive or mean-spirited, a social media comment to you or talk about you.
1. Examine who it is coming from and the strength of your relationship with them.
Here's the thing, if it is a stranger coming at you with a whole bunch of critical feedback, acknowledge it, but you can likely let it go. If it is a friend, a mentor, someone you trust, you can regard that with a whole lot of power because you have the relationship to back it up.
2. Realize that sometimes it is not really about you.
There are often people who will lash out on you maybe because you've come across their path at the wrong time or something about you reminds them of something in them. So, sometimes when someone brings criticism, it doesn't really have to do with you, it has to do with their own pain.
3. Pull the good from it and leave the rest.
Examine the criticism and see if there is something good you can pull out from it. Think about if there is something you can learn, keep in mind or receive from? Take that stuff to heart and leave the rest of it. And if there's nothing good? Leave it all.
4. Set boundaries around your heart.
Boundaries are good. We like boundaries. Set up boundaries around your heart, so you decide what comes in and what stays out. You can set boundaries so you only let words from specific individuals really go all the way in, whereas words from strangers stay at the door. You can have boundaries about when you check your email or social media to protect yourself or make a boundary that you don't Google your name.
5. Find a small group of people that are your people.
It is really important to have two to five individuals that can be your people; those you go to when you get criticized online and who will be honest with you as to whether those words hold weight to them and someone who can speak truth to your heart. You want these people to love and believe in you, but also willing to be honest.
6. If your heart hurts: feel it, process it and release it.
If your heart hurts over something someone said, allow yourself to feel it, instead of pushing it down. You're not too soft or sensitive, you're simply human. Once you do that, you can process through how you're feeling so that you don't form new beliefs because of your pain. Then, you just let it go.
7. Sit with it before you react or respond.
Don't respond to anything in the heat of the moment. Just don't. Nothing amazing happens out of that place and you might say things you'll regret later. Sometimes its hard, but walk away, sleep on it and come back later.
8. Surrender the fear of what people think.
Don't worry so much about making everyone happy and pleasing all the people. It is impossible anyway. Know who your people are, serve those people, and be generous with those people. Return to those people again and again.
9. Learn how to be a powerful and graceful communicator.
There will be times when you'll need to have difficult conversations. In those times, practice being an open, powerful and graceful communicator. Express your feelings and give whoever else the space to speak theirs. Be kind and be forgiving.
10. Remember why you do what you do.
No matter the amount of criticism you experience online, remember why you do what you do. Always come back to that place because it will encourage you to keep going. See your vision more than you ever see the resistance. I know sometimes the bad can seem so much bigger than the good, but I promise it isn't. :)