Let’s just be honest about this. If you try to do something good in your life, some people are gonna hate you.
Who and why?
I’m not talking about evil ignorant types who are in the KKK and think Hitler was a super-cool dude. I’m talking about people with a cute little house who take their kids bike-riding in the park on the weekend.
Normal people. Nice people.
You don’t have to become an obnoxious green freak non-showering wool-sock wearing cliché to inspire their ire, either. You can just go about your business, cutting down on meat, biking to work, installing solar or whatever it is that you decide to do. Without warning, you’ll notice that these people are acting weird around you.
So, you ask them what’s up.
The last time I did this, the person in question told me that I think I’m better than everyone because I don’t eat meat. Do I think this? No. Do I ever bring up any topic relating being vegan unless specifically asked? No (except on this blog). Do I try to change the subject if I sense meat-eaters around me are uncomfortable? Yes. Does anyone else I know feel like I am superior in my own mind? Not that I know of.
And yet, here I am, reviled for trying to make a positive change in my life.
Unless you’re unbelievably lucky, any change you make in your life (more exercise, less alcohol, kill your lawn and plant veggies) will always come with at least one person who is down on it, and on you, for daring to try to be better.
Why does this happen?
Change is scary
People are afraid of change. Even if it is not happening to them directly, they are afraid when anything around them changes. Since I love change, I always forget that other people are not so keen on it, and then I end up looking at them like they’re crazy for not being excited about getting fired or whatever.
Unhappy with their own lives
Often the people who are the least supportive are the people who would love to do what you’re doing. People who are stuck in their own ruts and don’t know how to get out. Is someone mad at you for going solar? They’re probably terrified by our dependence on foreign oil. Someone think you’re acting all high and mighty since you became vegan? Maybe they were raised vegetarian and now eat they meat. Someone saying you looked better fat? How’s their weight situation?
Remember in Trainspotting when Renton tries to get off the smack? Who’s the least supportive of his decision? His junkie friends, of course.
Negativity junkies (aka Haters)
Some people can only view the world in a negative light. I know because I used to be one of them. I’d expect the worst. I’d sneer at other people’s clothes. I hated happy, positive people. The phrase “have a nice day” just made me angry. This kind of attitude is addictive and it’s almost impossible to break out of.
To a negativity junkie, your changes will fuel their addiction; you’re giving them fresh fuel to hate on.
What can you do?
I’d love to say that I’ve had deep meaningful conversations with these black hole people (they suck out all the light). I’d love to say that I’ve won them over and convinced them to join me on the lighter side of life.
Alas, I have never had success getting a black hole person to view the world through anything but their own cynical lenses.
My new strategy
Fuck ‘em. Be your best and screw it if someone else doesn’t like it. Ignore their attempts to bring you down, don’t get sucked into their vortex. Instead, talk with the people who are interested in what you’re doing. They’re the ones that will be first to help when you need a hand. And you’ll find a lot of them are eager to try out the things you’ve succeeded in doing.
What experiences have you had with mindless negativity? How did you deal with it? Any tips for me on winning these people over?