Just like shit happens, haters happen. It’s almost invariable that at some point in our lives something we do will anger someone, somewhere, for some reason. But what do we do when that “someone” is a person that we hold dear to our heart— a close friend or even a family member? And what do we do when that “something” is nothing more than trying to be a healthier person? It’s not so easy to quip “haters gonna hate” as we walk away from it all.
When I started living and loving the fit life, I was perplexed by the polarizing responses I received. Some were overjoyed for me; they could tell I was happier. Others, however… surprised, if not borderline angered, me with their reactions. I’ve gotten some downright hurtful responses— having words like “obsessed” and “addicted” thrown at me. I’ve had my meals scrutinized; I’ve gotten my workout schedule criticized; I’ve even had people try to push unhealthy food on me (no, thank you!). And, worst of all, the majority of these negative reactions have come from people close to my heart. So how do you respond to this sort of negativity from someone you care about… towards something that, to you, is such a positive thing?
Understand their feelings
For those of us who are committed to the fit life, we know, full and well, that fitness is a lifestyle. We know that being fit isn’t a novelty toy that you pick up and play with then return to its shelf; we know that fitness takes day in and day out dedication. Unfortunately, while, yes, we do know that— we often don’t seem to grasp the full effect of what that means. Not to get all “heavy” here, but that’s serious stuff… I mean, this is the way you choose to live your life that we’re talking about here! Along with that comes the cold hard truth that people— very often— feel threatened by lifestyles different than their own.
It boils down to this: when you choose to live your life in a certain way, it also means you are, by default, choosing not to live your life in another way as well. It’s this little nugget of insight that causes people to feel so upset, so easily. Think about it this way: when you say “yes” to focusing on your physical fitness— you’re also saying “no” to going along with the status quo. And for someone who still is going along with the status quo? That can be an upsetting feeling for any number of reasons. Whenever you’re met with negativity, always try to step back from the situation; ask yourself why this person might be feeling hostile towards you and your life choices.
For example (just one of many, mind you), your commitment to fitness can often be a harsh reminder of what they’re not doing in their own life. Maybe they’ve tried to get in shape, but haven’t succeeded— or maybe they’d like to get in shape, but haven’t even tried yet. Just know that these people are struggling with their own issues inside, and they’re simply projecting their inward struggles outwardly— towards you. If you encounter someone you think may be experiencing these feelings, try to understand that. Be kind to them, despite their hate… because hate is always just pain trying to mask itself.
Get off your soapbox
Like a nagging mother who nitpicks at you because she only wants what’s best for you, so too do fitness-minded folks get a wee bit over-zealous every now and then. Remember, though: just like we want our choice to be committed to fitness to be respected, so too do people who don’t want to be committed to fitness have the right to have their choice respected as well. In our defense, we often do this unwittingly; when you’re passionate about something, you naturally want to share that passion with others. The only problem is— some people just plain don’t want to hear it.
Live by these words: the worst kind of advice you can give is advice that was never asked for. Understand that if someone is ready to make a commitment to fitness, they will make that choice on their own. If they don’t, it’s because they’re either unwilling or unprepared to do so— and no amount of your input is going to change that. It’s been said that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. So stop trying to force feed the horse water, and, instead, just stand by patiently with some water on hand— just in case they should ever need it.
At the end of the day— it’s their life, and they can choose to live it however they want. It’s difficult to sit by, silently, and watch those that we care about not take care of their bodies. But it’s their body, their choice. So don’t roll your eyes when you see the Micky D’s bag come out and don’t quote verbatim the number of calories in a slice of Papa John’s pizza. Yes, I understand that can be excruciatingly hard— especially when people, in return, can’t seem to keep their opinions to themselves whenever they see you eating so-called “health food;” just trust me, and don’t fuel the flame of haters. So get off the soapbox, already.
Love despite hate
Bottom line, you know that what you’re doing— living the fit life— is making you a happier, healthier, and, likewise, better person. Remind yourself regularly that you are doing this for yourself and yourself alone, so the last thing you should do is listen to what others have to say about it. Keep working hard towards your goals no matter what anyone else in your life says. In the end, when those around you see your progress, your results, and your positivity— they will be responsive to that.
Hating haters only leads to more hate. I can’t guarantee that loving haters will get them to love you, understand you, or even respect you— but it’s got a better shot than returning animosity with more animosity. So learn to love your haters. Yes, sometimes haters are so toxic to your life that you’ll need to do this from afar, but love them with positivity nonetheless. In the end, if its someone that truly cares about you in return… they’ll come around. If they don’t? Then your life, most assuredly, will be better off for it.