My sister sent me this funny image yesterday of a young boy riding a bike that looked like a unicorn with the title "haters gonna hate" on it. I cracked up! In youth maybe this child was ridiculous, but as an adult we recognize his unique beauty and enthusiasm for something he loves! Unicorns! And it gives us joy!

Or do we? Once I thought about it more, I realized that even as adults we are not so far removed from this situation. In fact, this STILL happens to me--I innocently ride my crazy unicorn bike, rocking my truth, letting my freak flag fly, when BAM!, like getting pelted with a rock, I am hit with the pettiness and smallness of a hater.  I see it frequently, in big and small forms. (one hour on facebook will reveal a variety).

I don’t hate many things, but I hate haters. Okay even that feels too strong if I’m honest. The thing is, I understand where the hating comes from. We have all done it to some degree. And here’s a hint…it’s not that the kid on the unicorn is offending you. 

You know all those negative feelings like jealousy, anger, bitterness? The kind of things that make you think mean thoughts, say nasty things, cut people down? If you trace the line of those feelings back to their source, I bet you’ll find it’s YOU. Maybe the roots are so deep you aren’t even aware of it. Maybe it’s just a bad habit, something you learned from your parents. It could be based on an idea you don’t even think is true anymore! Most likely it stems from unheard needs and desires that lie within you—pushed down by (untrue) ideas about your own worth and value. Or, for that matter, diminished by (untrue) ideas that elevate you, backed by religion, politics, background, etc.

When it comes down to it—we all want to be relevant. We want to be acknowledged, seen, loved and understood. Guess what my lovely peeps? That starts with YOU. It’s called Self-Awareness and I strongly encourage you to take a big dose of it (even if you’re not outwardly a hater, are you inwardly a hater? Do you criticize yourself? Question yourself? Insult yourself?)! We aren’t children on the playground anymore! As adults, knowing what’s at the root of your behavior should rank (at least) as high on your priority list as what foods make you gassy or what shampoo makes you frizzy! If you can’t stop for a moment and look into that deep, dark insecure part of yourself and bravely say BOO! to all your fears and questions, then you will always be looking to outside sources to feel ok. Those sources may include unhealthy relationships, self-doubt, self-flagellation, gossiping, diminishing other peoples appearances, choices, and opinions, social climbing, exaggerating, etc. In other words, being a hater.

I don’t care if it’s Beyonce, Obama, or yo’ mama—hating is LAZY and toxic. I’m reaching my limit as to how much I can tolerate quietly. I’ll go so far as to say the world is reaching its limit. You have to feel love to give love. And all we need is love people—that remains a truth.

SO…here is my suggestion for you. Take a day (week, month, year) and make everything about you. It seems weird, we are trained to do the opposite. Pretend you’re doing an experiment and honestly examine yourself. Anytime you notice feelings of negativity creep up, the desire to jokingly take a cheap shot, or to scream at a driver who cut you off: Ask yourself “how is this about me?” Start there. You may realize that the annoyance you have for someone else may stem from feelings of insecurity, exhaustion, anxiety. Then ask yourself “where is this coming from? what am I lacking? What do I need?” You might come to find that you don’t really want what you thought (popularity, a new car, thinner thighs, more money, a new government). what you need could be as simple as to hear some kind words “You are beautiful.” “I like you just the way you are.” “you have done enough today.” It might be more complicated too—either way, it is what it is. Then, ask yourself “How can I fulfill this need for myself?” (WHOA! This will be hard—you’ll want to think of all the ways other people could deliver it to you.) Don’t get lazy and trepidations now! This is the part that takes a little effort because once you know something, you can’t un-know it. So if you realize you have to forgive the person who hurt you or stop believing a lie you’ve been fed your entire life…well, that could feel uncomfortable. And letting go, forgiving, acknowledging these new truths takes time and deliberate action on your part. But think of how much time you’ll have now that you’re not posting “People at Walmart” photos. (See, I can admit that was me being a hater of haters, stemming from my deep belief that people should be kind. What can I do about it? Write this article!)

In summary: Don’t be a hater. To thine own self be true. Take the time and energy required to work on YOU; foster good feelings about yourself as much as you would your dearest friend or child. Patiently listen, then honor and respect your needs. (Then go ahead and honor and respect others, will ya?)