Yesterday I was listening to a top radio commentator. He has 20 million listeners. A woman called into the show and told him she had noticed he was an overcomer. Over the decades many people had attacked him, made up lies, and belittled him because they didn’t agree with his viewpoints or were jealous of his success.

 

She shared how people attacked her for her own views, and she wanted to know how the radio guru handled criticism.

 

His answer:

Never respond to it. If you do, it gives them reason to continue their attacks.

 

Another strategy the talkshow host used is he relied on his 20 million followers to know his character. He knew they would come to his defense so he didn’t have to.

 

The third way the host dealt with his critics is he settled into his own view of who he was. That reminds me of a quote I just saw:

The world can’t tell you who you are. You’ve just got to figure out who you are and be there, for better or worse.

 

Many years ago a mentor taught me the idea of not swallowing hooks. He said, “People will go fishing but it doesn’t mean you have to swallow the bait. Stop taking their hooks.”

 

It’s not easy but that advice has served me well. The world is full of nasty fisherman. (Yes, it’s full of good people too but this post is about the nasty ones.)

 

Have you ever shared a neutral comment on a Facebook thread only to have someone pounce on you with cruel words? In your gut, you want to hit back. But don’t. Remember, it almost never convinces the person to back down.

 

I remember one gal who attacked me was a Christian author that had written a book about listening to each other’s stories. She said this would help us understand each others’ points of view. Yet here she was, name calling and being mean. I responded gently and said, “Hey, aren’t you the author whose book I bought? The one who wrote about listening to people’s views and stories?” She still didn’t back down. I shouldn’t have responded.

 

You need strategies ahead of time for dealing with the nasty fishermen.

 

Rather than getting hurt and upset I often employ a strategy a wise person taught me: I ask the question,

What is this person telling me about herself?

 

In the scenario I just mentioned I knew this was a woman who wrote a book about being open-minded, non-judgemental, compassionate, and a good listener. She was none of the above. It doesn’t make me angry or make me hate her. I just know her talk doesn’t match her walk so I won’t buy future books written by her. She had told me a lot about herself.

 

As I was writing this piece, a blogpost I subscribe to showed up in my Feedly. The blogger spoke about an email that contained a nasty attack. Here’s how she handled it. 

 

Lots of people don’t have the courage to make their views known. So they stay quiet and they stay safe. But if you put yourself out there, you’re going to get attacked.

 

That’s okay, you can handle it, as long as you have strategies.

 

The infamous Brene Brown often talks about the cost of sharing your views. The way she defends herself from the critics is to lean on Theodore Roosevelt’s quote the Man in the Arena.

 

I hope some of these ideas have been helpful. When the nasty fishermen come along don’t respond, let your fans defend you, strengthen your view of self, ask yourself what this person is telling you about herself, and remember the Man in the Arena is the one who is making a difference.

The person on the sidelines really doesn’t have a say in the matter.

 

For more more ideas keep reading: How to Build Your Emotional Muscles 

 

How do you defend yourself against the nasty fishermen? 

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Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.

She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."