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When People Are Mean

If you follow my running account on Instagram @jenlarun, you may have seen a post I shared recently about a not-so-nice comment I received, from a man telling me his "car runs faster in idle" than I run.

Clever? Maybe. Mean. Yep.

I get a lot of these comments, which range from “Is that the best you can do?” to “You run so slow you're a pathetic excuse for a runner.”

But it's not just on social media that people can be mean. It happens to all of us in real life.

I won’t lie; at first these comments stung. But over time I’ve come to realize something that I’ve been able to transfer to every other area of my life. And that’s this:

Happy people aren’t mean.

When I receive these comments now, I follow Gabby Bernstein's strategy- “forgive and delete.” And with the extra nasty ones, I pray. I pray for the people who post them because these people are clearly incredibly unhappy in their lives.

Does this mean we condone their behavior? Absolutely not. But when we realize that it is their unhappiness driving their mean comments or actions, it allows us to see things from a different perspective.

It is also incredibly empowering because we realize we are NOT their victim. THEY are the victim of their own lack of love.

WE are not their victim.

THEY are the victim of their own lack of love.

When I was in 9th grade, I was bullied by a girl to the point where I didn’t want to go to school anymore. (And I LOVED school.) From “prank” phone calls asking if I’d “had my ass kicked lately” to daily confrontations in the hallway where I would fight back tears as I turned, head down, to walk away.

One evening at a high school basketball game, she was standing behind me in the bleachers spitting spit balls into my (HUGE 80’s) hair and laughing about it with her friends. But this time, instead of lowering my head and crying or running away to the sound of her laughter behind me, something stirred inside me. I turned around, looked her in the eyes and gently said “What have I ever done to you?”

Know what she did?

She started crying and ran out of the gymnasium.

And she never bothered me again.

See, she wasn’t bullying me because she was mean. She was just very very sad. And that was how her sadness manifested. No, that doesn't make her behavior right, but I had a better understanding of her after that.

When I faced her and gently asked what I had done, I reached her at a level beneath her “hardness.” And once I did that, her armor fell and she could no longer hide from her sadness.

That’s how it is with mean people.

When someone is genuinely happy, they are incapable of being maliciously mean.

I’m not talking about being grumpy or snippy like most of us can get when we’re tired or overwhelmed. That’s different. That’s not malicious. I’m talking about the people who go out of their way to hurt others.

So what do we do?

First and foremost, we never put our safety in jeopardy if someone is truly dangerous.

But outside of those situations, I’ve found that the best thing I can do is send them love in some form. Sometimes it’s a huge challenge at first, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.

Whether a prayer for their happiness, offering to help them with something that might be weighing them down, or just a genuine smile before I walk away or delete.

It’s incredible how many “mean” interactions can be diffused by kindness.

These people are LACKING happiness. So by refusing to mirror their unhappiness by retaliating with anger or gossip, but instead sending them what they're lacking, we don’t have to convince them they’re “wrong” for being mean; we simply lead by example in showing them a better way.

It all goes back to that famous Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, the one I quote in my book, the one I believe with every cell in my body:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

There is truly nothing love can’t do. That's why self-care and self-honor is so important. When we love ourselves, we come from a strong centered foundation of power that enables us to spread that love everywhere we go, even to people who are unhappy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more-

Love is how we change the world. Not by “fighting” for or against anything. Not by trying to force our will or our opinions on anyone else. But simply by loving.

Because every thought, word or action that originates from love, creates a ripple. And over time, those ripples grow… and grow…

So the next time someone tries to cut us down with their words? “Forgive and delete.”

And send them love. They are the ones who need it most.

xx Jen

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