Mean People — How To Deal With the Truly Nasty, Hateful Things People Say

If you’re going to get big, you’re going to have to learn to deal with it.CheckIn_03

That’s the advice many of us receive when we take those first tentative steps to get our work into the world in a much bigger way.

The bigger you get, the more you’ll be criticized or just have nasty things said about you (or even to you — anonymously online of course). So, chalk it up to jealously and move on.

I used to believe this sage advice … until the moment I received a piece of nasty feedback from someone who read a blog post I wrote as a tribute to my mom after she passed away.

Now, I have a different take, and I talked about it on my Love-Based Money Podcast, here .

While 99% of the feedback and comments I received about the blog post tribute to my mother was how beautiful it was, I also got one of the nastiest, mean-spirited, hateful comments I’ve ever received in all my years of being online. (The person called me self-centered and spiteful and said I clearly hated my mother among other things — I thought of posting it but then I didn’t want to give her the attention she’s clearly craving.)

The comment took me aback, but maybe not how you’re thinking. What it did was cause me to re-think the current advice about what we say to ourselves and our friends when this happens to us. And here’s what I came up with:

  1. As mean and nasty as that comment was, it actually didn’t hurt me at all. Because I know without a shred of doubt it isn’t true. So, then I thought about all the comments that DID bother and hurt me over the years — and I realized that why those other comments bothered me was because something they were saying triggered something in me. That maybe there was a bit of truth in what they said or they were tapping into some old wound I had.

So, the more you stand in your power and confidence, and love and integrate the shadow sides of you, the less likely you’re going to be troubled by whatever anyone says to you.

  1. Of all the things I write about, why would my nastiest comment come when I was talking about the death of my mother? If it’s true that people attack you for being big, why didn’t I attract nasty comments when I write about ways to have a successful business or even when I talk about my own wins as a business owner?

The answer, I think, is people aren’t necessarily attacking you for being big — they’re attacking you because you triggered something in them. In this case, this woman had issues with her own mom (yes, that was in the comment too — I was self-centered and spiteful, her mother was selfish and spiteful — are you sensing a theme?) And, since this is online, she could lash out at me anonymously.

Okay — so mean people are being mean because they’re being triggered by something you said or did, and typically what hurts you is because something in their nastiness is triggering you back.

So what do we do about it?

First off, be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to feel bad. And it’s even okay to cry about it. What you DON’T want to do is stuff the feeling down and say things like “it doesn’t bother me, I don’t care” etc. If it bothers you, then let it bother you. Feel the feeling, icky and as horrible as it may be.

And, once you do, you’ll let it go.

You may also want to take super nice care of yourself — take yourself for a walk or treat yourself to a massage or a bath. Pamper yourself — that person was MEAN for NO REASON to you — you deserve to treat yourself.

Now, you may also want to take it one step further once you’re over feeling bad about it. (I wouldn’t suggest doing this when you’re still hurting). Take a look at why you were triggered. What wounded part of yourself did that nasty thing open up for you? What can you do to integrate that wound back into yourself so it no longer gets triggered?

If you can do that, then hateful things will simply roll off your back. Because you know they’re not true.

Oh, and if it helps — the next time you get a nasty comment, I give you permission to say to yourself “well at least this person didn’t call me self-centered and spiteful and say I hated my mother like what happened to Michele PW.” Come to think about it, maybe I’ll use that as my standard for any negative comment from now on “at least they didn’t say I hated my mom.”

And remember, I’ve taken this topic even deeper on the Love-Based Money Podcast. Listen to it now, here.

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16 thoughts on “Mean People — How To Deal With the Truly Nasty, Hateful Things People Say

  1. Alixandrea

    Great post Michele. :-) I have a question though. How do you integrate those wounded parts back into yourself?

  2. Kat Sturtz

    Thanks, Michele, for one of the best, thoughtful, and thought-provoking articles about dealing with nasty and hateful comments some folks post. I’m going to share this with my Rocking Your Path community.

  3. Lynne

    Good timing, because although I am not upset, I’m quite angry! Angry with the comments my team leader said to me today because I was ill and therefore off work – we dont get paid for being ill! I’m still seething at being treated like a child, so will think about what you said and wonder what is in her that makes her so mean??

  4. Janet

    Great article, Michele. This is my favorite line and even though I’m a psychologist, I still need to remind myself of this all the time: “People aren’t necessarily attacking you for being big — they’re attacking you because you triggered something in them.”

  5. Michele PW Post author

    Ahhh, that is a great question and the answer is a little too long for the post (plus I’m not an expert). Any sort of shadow work is really helpful — I’m also reading a book called “The Presence Process” by Michael Brown that shares a process for integrating the lost, wounded parts of ourselves. I haven’t gotten that far in it yet but so far I do like what I read.

  6. Michele PW Post author

    I’m so sorry that happened to you — yes she’s clearly being triggered by something, maybe she’s afraid of losing her job? And if you’re home sick and the work isn’t getting done, it’s going to somehow reflect poorly on her? I’m just guessing and I don’t know the whole story but good luck with it.

  7. Nancy Marmolejo

    Oh you’re kidding me, right? Somebody said that when you posted about your mother’s passing? That’s got to be the meanest, most insensitive thing EVER. I’m so sorry you had to see that. However, the wisdom you’re pulling out of this and the compassion and understanding you showed is amazing. It takes a very special person to hold compassion for someone who has hurled cruelty your way. There are so many people online spewing crap that’s plain mean and cowardly. I applaud you for what you did and how you shared it. And as many also will share, we love you and are so sorry for the loss of your mother. May she rest in peace knowing she’s got this amazing daughter with a big heart!!

  8. Michele PW Post author

    I truly wish I was kidding, I actually had to read the comment twice because at first I thought it was a big joke. No one could have written something so awful. But thank you — I figured if I could do something positive with it I would.

  9. Lisbeth Tanz

    I was just telling someone yesterday about how “going big” or “putting your ‘ALL’ out there” opens you up to comments – good and bad. Quite often. when someone takes a leap and reveals something deep and personal, attackers show up. I am so sorry you had to experience this when you were expressing your experiences and feelings for your mom. I totally agree with you that your post triggered this person in a BIG WAY. So big, in fact, that she couldn’t contain her pain and felt compelled to share it with you. Your ability to turn that negative into a positive learning experience for you and us is so admirable. And it’s what makes you such a great force in the world. Thank you for pushing forward and allowing us to grow through your revelations!

  10. Stephanie Calahan

    My condolences and prayers on your mother’s passing.

    I am so glad that you could see the person that left the nasty comment lashing out for what it was. It seems that almost every time I write about someone I love it triggers someone. I’ve found that practicing conscious forgiveness is extremely powerful and empowering when I’m triggered by stuff like that. So glad you have done and continue to do the internal work so you can see it for what it was.

    As always, you are a true class act. Thank you for your bravery and volunerability in sharing this story. Thank you for taking a potentially crushing moment and turning it into a learning opportunity for everyone.

  11. Amanda

    Well said Michele. It is exactly the way i look at things. Keep playing BIG! You will not fulfil your purpose any other way!

  12. Lyn Alen

    Lovelovelove your thoughtful and authentic voice on this topic, Michelle. I especially appreciate the reminder to use these triggering events as a call to go within and explore with compassion for all parties concerned.

  13. Kate Williams


    Thank you for being the voice of understanding and compassion. People who act out mean spiritedness are in pain. When you remain open to the person who made hurtful comments and also open and compassionate with yourself, you remain a light in this world.

    Blessings and condolences, Michele.


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