People suck. People are literally the worst. That’s why the human condition is so fascinating. We all have problems and we all have done plenty of shitty things. But there’s also bright spots in each and every one of us.
That’s why being judged is so terrifying. We’re trying so hard to bring out our bright spots, to nurture them and to allow them to grow. But in the back of our minds, we know there are also parts of us that suck. Parts of us that are mortal and weak and unstable. And we’re worried that, the minute someone distracts us from our bright spots and tries to get us to focus on the things that are wrong with us, we’re just going to fall into a dark hole of self-doubt that we’ll never be able to climb out of.
Insults, rejections, name-calling, hateful comments, humiliations. They’re all terrifying because they grow into a force so powerful that you feel like you can almost touch it. It slithers up behind you and sits heavily on your shoulders, slowly seeping into your lungs like a thick and powerful smoke. It’s suffocating and smothering. It actually has a physical affect on you – your heartbeat speeds up, the hairs on your body stand straight on end. Maybe you sweat or your eyes well up or you become aware that your throat has a huge lump in it and now suddenly you have to swallow that lump every three seconds.
Insults hit you in the gut with a full force. They knock the wind out of you and chip away at everything you’re trying to build up inside yourself. Suddenly they’ve completely taken over your entire being. Your mind. Your body. Your soul. You can think of nothing else except the fact that somebody out there doesn’t think you’re good enough.
It feels like approval is what we’re chasing after – we need compliments and validation and reassurance and encouragement. We crave to be told that we’re okay, that we’re good, that we’re liked. These things feed our bright spots with the water that we’re thirsting for. But the minute that someone criticizes us or humiliates us or insults us, those compliments slip through our fingers. No matter how tightly we try to cup them in our hands, the insults pull them out right in front of our eyes.
It only takes one. One hurtful thing that another person hurls at you like acid.
People could say a thousand nice things to you, but the loudest thing of all comes from the one person who told you that you aren’t good enough. That something is wrong with you. That you aren’t worthy of love or affection or acceptance.
An insult cannot be neutralized by a compliment. It can’t even be neutralized by a thousand compliments. It feels like, for every rejection or offensive comment that is hurled at us, we should be able to remove it from ourselves and our lives by putting a compliment in its place. But unfortunately, that’s not the way it works.
Insults leave a mark that goes deeper than something a compliment can sweep over or cover up. It shakes you to your core. It wakes you up and reminds you of the things within yourself that you’re most ashamed of. The things that you’re most afraid of the world noticing. The things that you’re convinced will chase everybody away if they are discovered.
At the root of all of this is our fear of being alone. Rejected. Unloved. Isolated. Ignored. Unwanted.
An insult is the very vocalization of what we’re begging people not to notice. What we’re begging people not to acknowledge. What we’re begging people to pretend is not a part of us. We do not want people to know there’s anything wrong with us, because we do not want people to run away from us.
There’s no cure. No remedy. No antidote. There’s no single thing that can stand up against a hurtful comment and throw it to the ground.
The only thing you can do is keep trying. Keep fighting. Not against the people who want to put you down, but against the idea that you should allow them to do so. Fighting against the very people who try to tell you that you’re worthless is a waste of time. They will never change their minds. They will never stop criticizing you or insulting you or judging you. Because in reality, they’re not actually focused on you. They’re focused on their own problems and they things they hate within themselves, or the things that they wish they saw in themselves.
For the most part, the insults they throw at you really have nothing to do with you at all.
So you know what? Let them insult and complain and belittle and criticize and judge and disapprove. The people who are using their energy to tell you that you suck are too busy picking apart your life and your personality and your talents to develop any talents or any life of their own.
They will judge the things that you do and say and create because they are too cowardly to create something of their own. They are focused on your life and trying to affect things inside your world because they have no world of their own.
So do not fight against them. Fight against the idea that you have to listen to them. Acknowledge that their words hurt, sting, burn. Acknowledge that a million compliments won’t chase those words away. But more importantly, acknowledge that you are human, you have faults, and you have weaknesses, just like everybody else. No one is going to stop loving you. As long as you keep creating, the insults are going to come. But so is the love.