Recently, some well-meaning people told me to develop a tough skin and to not talk about my feelings regarding a situation that was very hurtful.
I was being cyber-bullied by a group of people on social media. And, it was pretty vicious. But, the advice was for me not to expose my soft belly or show vulnerability. I was told not to give them ammunition. I was told not to show them they were getting to me.
And, perhaps that is good advice, for someone else or for a different time in my life.
As I do this emotional work, I realized that I spent years being bullied into not showing my feelings and not expressing the hurt I experienced so other people could feel more comfortable or they would not have a problem with me.
Now, I reject that thinking.
My mental health is more important than anything anyone can say in reaction to my vulnerability. I don’t view my vulnerability as a weakness. I see it as strength.
I can literally stand there while someone is attacking me and continue to feel while expressing to them the damage they are causing. And, if they choose to continue then they expose themselves as heartless.
I didn’t interact with any of the people, but I did speak my peace about who I am versus who they tried to paint me to be in the eyes of others. And, then I let it go and allowed them to continue to be as nasty as they wanted to be. I felt sorry for them. Because to have the desire to try to tear someone apart, you have to really not feel good about yourself.
We are in this social media age where people feel comfortable attacking someone who shows any difference to whatever their ideals. And, age means nothing. I was being attacked by 40-year-olds and older. There was a time where we expected wisdom with older age, but immaturity knows no end. Humility and integrity lose out to being liked by the collective.
The only thing I see is a bunch of people venting their frustrations and projecting their unhappiness onto unwilling targets. And, the media and social media is providing plenty of provocation to be your lowest and worst self. But, it is always your choice to lower yourself to either be an attacker or meet the attacker at their level.
But, I don’t agree that means you should armor up and become bitter and angry at the state of the world.
Instead, you should stay in your heart. Stay soft despite the daggers thrown your way. Find a way to see those who try to hurt you as less of a threat and more as the threatened by something you unknowingly present. It may be confidence. It may be a sense of self.
Or, it may be the vulnerability that isn’t afraid to exist in a world that pretends its savage.
At this point in my life, I can feel the pain and still be okay. I can acknowledge the hit, but not suffer from it. Because I learned my power is not in deflecting, but absorbing and releasing anything that doesn’t serve me. Nothing anyone said served me any purpose but to let me know they weren’t people I needed to interact with nor try to have any type of exchange with. I didn’t have to prove anything to them. I didn’t have to care what they thought. There was no nutritional or emotional value in investing in their thoughts, words or worlds. They did me an amazing favor by showing me the truth behind the masks.
And, knowing where I was wasting my energy is a gift to me.
As you navigate our current era of offense addicts and trolling abusers, before you throw on your armor and prepare for battle, remember that the war isn’t in proving anything to strangers committed to not seeing your humanity.
The war is in gaining more of your humanity despite the loss of it in the reactions of the world. If they make you feel like you don’t belong, be grateful.
“I’m not in search of sanctity, sacredness, purity; these things are found after this life, not in this life; but in this life I search to be completely human: to feel, to give, to take, to laugh, to get lost, to be found, to dance, to love and to lust, to be so human.”
― C. JoyBell C.