Don't let mean-spirited Internet posters ruin your Christmas

Scroll past the negative

How rude! Such a bully!

Mean-spirited grinches who seem to relish making nasty comments on social media may believe they’ve found a super-power to protect themselves, but they’re mistaken.

While social media certainly makes it easy to comment on issues, people are telling us more about themselves than they might be aware. Unkind folks are waving their flags of insecurity without even being aware of what they’re telling the world; their wounds are showing.

Not so hidden within their cutting comments and criticisms are their own insecurities and fragile egos. The quickest way to expose your insecurities is to be hypercritical of others. Strange as it sounds, I have compassion for negative and critical people because they’re hurting.

Confident and competent people who’re content with who they are don’t feel the need to put others down. The fault-finder, generally not self-aware, puts others down to enhance their own fragile ego, but it doesn’t actually work and backfires on them.

While it can be challenging to not take another’s criticism and negative comments personally, it helps to remember their comments reveal more about them and how they feel about themselves than about you. It’s important we remember not to take on their pain and get sucked into the vortex of battle— just offer them a blessing as you scroll on by.

I was taken with a recent post by actor Dave Willis on social media. “Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” There is such truth and wisdom to his statement.

While being treated unkindly is unpleasant to experience, the greater cost is paid by the nasty one. These behaviours increase the secretion of stress hormones, negatively impacting physical and mental health, decreasing immunity and life-span, and are damaging to relationships. According to research, healthy relationships require a six-to-one ratio of positive comments to negative.

I’ve learned to run my comments through four gates rooted in the wisdom traditions:

• Is it true?

• Is it kind?

• Is it necessary?

• Does it improve on the situation?

This requires I become self-aware and notice when the urge to make a cutting remark arises; there’s usually an uncomfortable emotion, insecurity, or limiting self-belief coming to the surface. Striking out at another does nothing to fix my own internal pain and discomfort, and usually only complicates the situation.

There’s greater benefit in becoming an encourager and applying the golden rule of treating others the way we’d like to be treated. Kindness is always in season, including self-kindness.

Kindness is the not-so-secret tonic, freely-available and scientifically-proven to, not only make you feel high, but also:

• Increase happiness and positive emotions

• Reduce negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression

• Reduce stress

• Lower blood pressure and improve heart health

• Improve immunity

• Reduce pain

• Improve ability to cope

• Improve performance

• Improve relationships

Becoming an encourager, rather than a critic and learning to empathize, rather than judge, is better for our health and relationships. Instead of trying to stand on others to make ourselves feel taller, let’s try standing in their shoes. Life’s too short to be spent dwelling on the faults of others.

It’s uplifting to try to find something positive about everyone you meet. As we lift others, we’re also lifting ourselves.

Give yourself a gift this holiday season. Scroll past those nasty comments, whether in life or on social media. Remember, if there’s someone in your life who habitually puts you down, the problem may reside within them, not you.

Become the source of kindness, be an encourager, and make this world a better place for us all.

Happy Holidays!

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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