Thursday, July 16, 2015

TIPS FROM OUR TEAM • HOW TO HANDLE THE HATERS


This summer, my husband and I filled up a storage unit, packed a few suitcases, and moved to San Francisco. We knew almost nobody here and were initially homeless - it has been the greatest adventure! But our time here has been littered with hardships - ranging from loneliness, to just plain unfamiliarity. The biggest hardship, surprisingly, has been learning to respond to hate. 

I started a brand new job, wide-eyed, excited, and ready to learn, and was immediately hit with a wave of dislike and negativity - most of it stemming from my religion and stereotypes associated with it. I was so taken aback by the mean jokes and rude questions that I often just stood silent, unaware of how to react. 
After a few days (and a few waves of tears), I called a girlfriend and complained about the teasing. "These people are SO mean, I would never treat anyone this way." I told her. Moving to a brand new place had really shaken my confidence, and so the hate had really shaken me to my core. I decided that they were all callused jerks, with their pre-set opinions and their dirty mouths. I decided I would transcend their bad behavior. 
Although that wasn't the worst approach, my cold exterior prevented me from making relationships with anyone at work. Sure, their teasing slowed and didn't hurt as much, but I had isolated myself by passing judgment on them and deciding that they were just mean.
Shutting myself off emotionally still didn't make me happy - and so I prayed for strength with my situation. Miraculously, I slowly started to feel a measure of love for my co-workers! I started to forgive them for their harsh remarks, for the way that they made me feel initially. I started to respond to their criticism with smiles, and then the criticism just went away. 

I started to notice parts of their personalities that I genuinely liked. Asking questions helped me learn more about their lives and who they were underneath the exterior. I was able to compartmentalize our differing views and appreciate each person for their wit, their good habits, or their help. I even began to consider some of them my friends. Work became enjoyable! I realized that my first impression wasn't necessarily representative of their personalities. 
Were they mean? Yeah, they were. But nobody is out of the realm of forgiveness, and if we are willing to forgive, our lives can be 110% easier. 
Sometimes people ARE just mean, and it's not always realistic to expect that, in time, everyone will come to love you. But I think if we give people a few extra chances, and pray to truly find love in our hearts for them, that we can learn to love everyone - EVEN our haters. 

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