Understanding why people hate you is BRAVE.

People will hate you mostly for one of two reasons.

They feel you don’t see or hear them.

They wish they had your courage.

Whether they are the bully in school or the troll on the Internet. Whether they are the cold, aloof relative, or the staring stranger. Whether they are the best friend who turned on you, or the tribe who rejected you. They hate you because it matters to them that you notice them.

They hate you because you are different, and even though you may know this and wish you were not, and perhaps even feel powerless to change it, the fact that you are different can provoke a feeling of intimidation in a person who would never, ever risk being seen to be different, and has taken steps to ensure they are never seen as weak, different, vulnerable or less than.

Because here you are, being willing or simply resigned to be all those things they are most afraid people will find out about them, out in the open.

Your willingness to leave the house despite your imperfections, your overwhelming feeling of not-enoughness and less-than-ness, and your preparedness to keep functioning despite the deep suspicion you have you are never going to fit in, measure up or be accepted is the most threatening, challenging and confronting thing you will ever do where others are concerned.

When faced with these feelings, and everyone has them, most people would rather work to change themselves into someone they are not rather than ever risk being seen for what they suspect they actually are.

They heard, just like you, the voice that says “Just who the hell do you think you are? Who are you to be strong, different, peculiar, remarkable?” And they obeyed that voice, and became something they are not. They made changes. They compromised. And it takes a lot of energy to hide and be something you’re not. And here you come, being honest, vulnerable, who you are, which you think makes you look weak and stupid and dumb and unoriginal, but which actually makes you the most threatening thing in the whole world. You don’t use your energy working to keep up appearances. You don’t spend all your time defending your borders and maintaining your defences. How dare you? How DARE you?

This is why they hate you. Truth sees truth. You are about to namaste them right in the eyeballs and they are terrified. They do not want to see you, and they do not want to be seen. They want you to hide and to let them hide. But when your truth has surfaced and made you know you must walk with your open face to the world at all times, you won’t be able to go back to being the hider. And your light will make the dark scurry away before you, everywhere you go. And there won’t be a thing that you or anyone else can do about that.

Except criticise you. Except mock you, and question your authority (even if you never claimed to have any) and ask you who you think you are. They may subject you to physical or emotional attack. They may work to make sure you’re excluded from the tribe, even if you no longer belong there anyway. They will lie about you, gossip about you and twist your words. But often, they will also copy you, without even knowing. They will mimic your words and actions, because despite themselves, they are learning from you. Especially if you don’t bite back. Especially if you don’t resist or defend. They will copy and mirror your strength and your courage, as if trying it upon for size, testing it out. You see, bullies are not acting from a place of real strength. It’s feigned power. It’s all an act. Once they find what they think might be a better method of looking strong and being safe they’ll try it on to see if it works better than the one they’re using now.

Bullies have no weapons except the ones you bring into the battle. Their whole strategy is to get you to bring the fight, because they know in reality, they have nothing. The only force that will be used is the force they exert against your resistance to them. If you don’t bring a big gun, then in actual fact, they got nothing. This is why you need never fight back when your ideas, your art, your beliefs and your life-management are criticised. You don’t need to defend yourself. You’re not the one under threat. They are.

Bullies have only two motives. To challenge your courage, or to get you to see or hear them. True courage has nothing to prove. It’s this courage that will empower you to stand in the face of criticism, bullying or other forms of intimidation, whilst seeing the underlying fear driving it. Once you understand there’s a tender person behind that bravado trying not to be seen or heard and yet at the same time seen and heard, you realise who truly has the power.

And the wisdom to use it well.
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Radical kindness is BRAVE.

If I knew back then what I know now, here’s the number one thing I would do to change my life the most dramatically, the most quickly.

I have no regrets, but I do wish I’d not bothered with about ten really hard things i was struggling with which I thought would help me when my life was a real struggle for survival, and I’d just done this one thing instead.

Here it is.

Don’t care what others think about you. Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t plan your days around it. Don’t accommodate it, ruminate on it, or organise your thinking to consider it.

Thinking about what others may think about you is a bad habit. A BAD HABIT. You must give it up, instantly. I know you will need time to ease out if it, like all addictions. And you’ll need something to replace it with. I have just the thing.

Kindness.

So, here’s what you do.

Replace all the instances when you perceive a person is judging you, assessing you, accumulating an assumed knowledge about you in their head, plotting to overthrow you, or about to throw a fake smile (or something worse) at you, and thwart that exprctation on your part with a kind act instead. Smile. Put your hand out to shake theirs. Ask them how they are doing. Sit by them. Stand by them. Give them an attentive presence. Exchange your bristling, defensive hostility for physical acts of kindness, acceptance and peace.

Do this as an experiment and see what happens. Give it a week.

Later, at home, you can jump to all the conclusions you like about them. You can write a mean essay or scream into your pillow about them. But you won’t, because in being kind to them, you’ve neutralized fear. Your fear.

And fear is what makes us care what others think about us. Fear of being judged, disliked, rejected. The cure for this is to actively refuse to judge, dislike or reject others.

This isn’t about helping what you feel. This is about not acting on what you feel. This is about directing your feelings gently into making you behave in a way which is less likely to get you what you’ve been assuming you’ll get anyway – judged, disliked, rejected. Gossiped about. Punched in the face.

Now, if you feel or are unsafe, get yourself out of there. This is not about accepting abuse, or allowing yourself to be hurt.

But if we are just talking about a room full of people, real or virtual, and your rancid, overwhelming fear of those people’s thoughts about you, then here’s the sauce. They are not thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves. They are thinking about how you are judging them, making assumptions about them, seeing through their facade and hating them already. Because that’s what we all do. And it’s not helping, not helping.

Someone has to stop the rot.

The antidote is kindness. You be kind to someone first, and watch how the atmosphere changes. Kindness becomes a culture in the space you’re in, in fact, if you’ll create safe spaces where kindness is the culture, you’ll go from being a frightened follower, to a shining star, and people will be drawn to you, and you won’t believe the nice things they will assume about you. It’ll be shocking and amazing. And addictive.

Forget about creating a persona to defend yourself from behind. Forget about your image, your public face, those walls you’ve stayed safe behind. Be kind, not perfect. Be gentle, not brittle. Be the culture-setter in the space. It’s like magic. It will change your world.

If I’d known I could change my universe from a hostile, angry, defensive, judgement filled shit-fight to a community of safe, vibrant spaces where people are not afraid to be authentic and where I have friends everywhere I go, simply by giving up my addiction to caring what others think of me, and using that energy caring about them instead, I’d have done this years ago.

Try it. It’s like magic.

Love you lots,
Jo xxx
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Like Jo Hilder Writer on Facebook and jo_hilder_writer on Instagram for more spiritual sunshine, and visit johilder.com to find out more about programs, groups and courses for the brave and beautiful.

What you deserve.

Deserve.

It’s such a divisive word. When we talk about what we or someone else deserves, we’re talking about the worthiness of a person. Not their true worth, but a perceived worth, and a perceived lot according to that worth. It’s us passing judgement on ourselves, which is just a mad thing to do. Because when we pass judgement on others, we are judging ourselves at the same time. Deserve better. Didn’t get what they deserved. You don’t deserve that. I deserve this. Your value and someone else’s value, held up against each other, as if there were a big old cosmic scale of worthiness up there somewhere, with only so much blessing, mercy and joy to go around.

But there isn’t.

The economy of “deserve” is like an artwork consisting of just one word splashed across a canvas, a word describing it’s opinion of itself. “I am shit” it says. A mad thing. It’s not the arts job to decide on its own worth, value or meaning. It’s its job to simply be.

The art isn’t shit just because it says it. It’s art, is intrinsically beautiful, and has worth as a wonderful created thing.

You aren’t shit just because you think you are. You’re an amazing, complex and valuable person, are intrinsically beautiful, have worth, and are a wonderful, created being.

What if, just like a piece of art, it were your job just to simply be? What if there were not even a job, just the being?

What if everything you desire and everything you’ve experienced, everything you dream of and accept and settle for, everything you are bound by the everything you bind yourself to was not connected to what you think you deserve?

How different would your life be, if you decided you were of great worth, instead of either worthy or unworthy, deserving or undeserving?

Deserve. It’s a mad, mad thing.

Love, Jo xxx

God’s favourite.

God’s favour was once explained to me as a kind of serendipitous blessing He gives when He is particularly pleased with a Christian person, and wants to make life a little easier for them and let them know they are loved. Favour, to my understanding, meant nailing that business deal, dodging the cancer bullet, even finding that very last parking spot close to the door of the hospital or shopping centre.

Then, a few things happened to me which nobody would’ve considered to be God’s favour, even though I did everything they said to do (pray, believe you deserve favour, be a Christian in the first place). And I came to see a few things.

Very often, the same circumstances I considered to be “favour” were actually a disaster (or at the very least, an inconvenience) for someone else. When I got an opportunity ahead of someone else, that someone else missed out, and I didn’t really care about that. When my test results came back clear, I never spared a thought for all those whose hadn’t. When I got that convenient parking spot, it never occurred to me the person I beat to it may have needed it more than I did.

And I also noticed the great things which happened to me also frequently happened to others who didn’t know God and weren’t Christians. They sealed great business deals too, and received terrific breaks and opportunities. I noticed in most cases these came because of hard work, creativity, courage, persistence, talent, integrity, relationship and building on past successes.

Or maybe God just loves everyone, and gives His favour to just anyone He’s pleased with, not just Christians?

In any case, I began to wonder why I’d want to bypass hard work, creativity, courage, persistence, talent, integrity, relationship and building on past successes to get something because of something called “favour”, and whether I really appreciated the great thing I had if I got it without using those things first anyway.

The biggest change happened once I realised fully what it’s like when things don’t miraculously go your way, even when you pray and ask God very nicely could things please, please be okay or I don’t know how on earth I’m going to cope. I now knew how it felt to have a failed business and a cancer diagnosis, and it didn’t feel very nice. And when I understood what it really feels like when you don’t seem to be God’s favourite, I stopped asking God to favour me with ease and success, and I began to search out in my everyday life the kinds of people who didn’t seem to be God’s favourite either, to see if I could help them out.

And I discovered when I did help others out, even in some small way, that person felt God smiling on them.

And it was then I began to understand what God’s favour really is.

Thy Kingdom Come, Let’s Have It Your Way

Relationships can be tough. This week I have been blogging on marriage and partnership, and sharing some insights I’ve gained over the 25 years I’ve spent with my husband. It hasn’t always been easy for us. We separated for a year, and for six months of our separation my husband was in rehab for treatment for his alcoholism. Yes, we’re Christians, and have both been for a very long time, just in case you’re wondering. I tried to help my husband change, I even tried to force him to change. I threatened to leave him if he wouldn’t, and asked him to leave if he refused to try. I read his inability to change for me as a lack of regard, a deficit of love. But, in fact, my refusal to accept that he needed a revelation to activate any change, and my inability to extend grace toward him, reflected my own deficits as much as his behaviour reflected any of his.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been blogging is the propensity humans have to demand change of one another, not just in marriage, but in most relationships. We often bargain for the changes we wish to see in another with the currency of devotion, affection or promises to change pieces of ourselves. We’re so used to doing this, we even try it on with God. Getting God to give us what we want by offering something in return is often called prayer. Sometimes it’s called service. Hello God? I was just wondering, if I commit to do this thing, would you mind doing this for me? It’s like we’ve assumed He wouldn’t think of doing anything nice unless we had dared bargain for it. Think about this. If we set out to attract God’s good favor toward us by promising to do certain things in exchange, what was it we thought His intentions were toward us in the first place?

Praying “Your kingdom come, Lord” is not just about acknowledging God’s sovereignty, although it is certainly that. It is also an expression of trust. It shows we believe God when He says He is wholly love, and He is wholly good. It also reveals our belief, if it is indeed present, that we understand we need not curry God’s favors toward us, nor petition Him to change His mind about us. It comes from a presumption of His goodwill. Inviting God to visit His kingdom upon us reveals that we are welcoming of not just the prosperity He shares with His subjects, but also appreciative of the gracious rule that comes with that. More so than any other way to pray, “Your kingdom come” says to our heavenly Father, “I believe that you love me. I trust you. I’ll do what I need to do from this end. Please, let’s have it your way.”

 

(This post originally appeared on the Darkwood Brew blog – Sunday 19 June 2011)