This world is full of all kinds of people. Some of the worst kind anyone of us has to deal with are the snipers in the crowd – people who find a reason to shoot you down at every possible turn, especially when you are making strides in life.
They go by many names – naysayers, pessimists, saboteurs, haters, you name it. And the worst thing is, they are everywhere. There is just no avoiding them no matter what you do. That is the harsh reality of their existence.
Their distractions come in the form of ridicule, threats, blackmail, rumours, and never-ending discussions to slow you down.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what positive impact you want to make in the world, you will always come across snipers in the crowd – even Mother Theresa experienced hate and a barrage of negative criticism throughout her life.
The thing is, though, dealing with people who drag you down can be a hurtful and painful experience.
It can take an emotional toll on even those with the thickest of skins if you take what these naysayers say to heart. It affects your self-esteem, you feel a lack of support, you start to doubt yourself and it could even make you resentful.
Heck, Snipers come in many forms. They could be a boss or colleague who is looking to sabotage your efforts, family, so-called friends, Ex-colleagues or random people who try to undermine you through social media or even strangers you have to deal with every day who “think they know you” or plain and simple they do not want you to become successful because it “HURTS”!!
Usually, it’s bad enough when the person trying to bring you down is a complete stranger. But even worse is when that person turns out to be a family member or someone you thought was your close friend, who grew up with you, who knew you, who said they loved you or better still who took help from you (behind closed doors).
This can be very hard to take, but sadly, it’s the reality of life and every one of us will find ourselves dealing with this kind of person at some point in our lives.
Is it Human Nature?
Instead of fighting this reality, it is better to understand why people feel the need to act this way. This way, it becomes much easier to deal with.
A good reference can be derived from a study quoted in the book The Paradox of Choice which shows human nature at its worst.
The study involved providing the participants with hypothetical choices regarding social status and enquiring about their preferences.
For example, people were asked to make a choice between:
- Earning $50,000 a year with others earning $25,000 or
- Earning twice as much (that is $100,000 a year) but being around people earning double that amount ($200,000)
Personally, what would you go for?
You might be surprised (or not) to know more than half of the respondents opted for the choice that granted them the better relative position.
In other words, more than half of the people surveyed found it better to earn $50,000 than $100,000. Why? Because $50,000 meant they were earning more than others – which was not the case when they were earning $100,000 as this would have meant being down the social ladder.
Crazy, isn’t it?
Well, that’s just how some people are – it is their nature.
Sure, we humans are hardwired to compare ourselves to each other, but it is who we measure ourselves up against that can make or break our happiness. In an ideal world, though, we wouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone!
Now that you have a psychological understanding of which option many people would opt for and why they would make that choice, it is easier to understand why people would want to sabotage your efforts.
That’s human nature, and you can’t do anything to change it.
Understand it’s not about you
When we are attacked by a negative or bitter person, the first thing you need to remember is that you cannot please them irrespective of what you do.
That is because YOU are NOT the underlying reason that is making them act so negatively – it is something to do with their own experiences and perceptions about life. Obviously, when someone verbally attacks you, trying not to let the abuse get to you is easier said than done.
However, if you pause and try to analyse why this person or people are projecting the anger, frustration or bitterness on you, you can begin to understand what might be triggering them This makes it easier to wrap your mind around the incident, although it works best if the person trying to tear you down (however subtly) is someone you know – maybe a relative or friend?
By and large, though, most people try to sabotage others either because they are suffering from low self-esteem issues or perhaps they themselves are victims of a rough childhood and haven’t (yet) been able to make naything of their lives or have experienced other negative life experiences.
Other times, people who bring others down might be stuck in their own failures and are not happy to see others succeed. There are also those who could be victims of poor life choices and feel bitter when they look around and see how others seem to ‘have it together’.
Whatever the underlying reason, people who bring you down do not want to elevate themselves because they have their own insecurities. And knowing their put-downs are about them (and not you) can help you handle the criticism better.
Remember, people who are genuinely confident and happy do not behave in such a way. Rather than knock the joy out of other people, they are friendly, warm and always looking for the positive in others.
Some of us have been disabled by snipers in the crowd, and we may not even realise it. In a way, you may even have become addicted to seeking validation from other people.
But even the bible reminds us that:
‘The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.’ – (Proverbs 29:25)
When we give more weight to what people say about us in our quest to fulfill our goals, dreams, mission, or life purpose, we will get sidetracked when we need to stay in the game. We will lock ourselves up in an asylum of self-manufactured fear.
Everyone and their neighbor will always have an opinion, and if you listen to them, you will veer off God’s purpose for your life.
And we don’t want that happening, do we?
People who accomplish big things in life have no choice but to confront naysayers who try to tear them down.
When the Wright brothers tried to make their maiden flight, people told them it would never work because, well, humans can’t fly.
When JFK said the United States would send a man to the moon, not many people believed it could be done.
Or even staying with the bible still, when Moses was leading the Israelites across the desert, the masses told him he was leading them to their death and they would rather go back to Egypt.
More recently, when he was doing crusades in London and the journalists couldn’t let him be, Billy Graham quoted Neh. 6:3-4. He was too engrossed in saving people’s lives to spare time and go respond to the taunts from the journalists.
The takeaway here is that in life, it is difficult to fulfill your mission if you don’t break the chains of fear that naysayers try to bind you in.
When we understand what is going on around us, it becomes easier to call the naysayer’s bluff and move on.
Of course, we can’t deny the fact that it can be extremely hurtful when someone close to us tries to sabotage us – a co-worker, close friend, or even a family member.
However, if we understand human behavior and accept it – instead of resisting it – we can at least understand where these snipers in the crowd are coming from.
And maybe, just maybe, start looking at the negative criticism in a different way.
In Wayne Dyer’s words, if you change the way you look at the htings, the things you look at will change!!
Jillian Haslam Bio
Jillian is a Motivational Speaker and a coach with distinction, and has had a 20 year career in banking, including working with executives at board level. Bank of England. RBS, Nova Nordisk. McDonalds and The University of Cambridge are some of the names on her impressive list of clients.
Born and raised in abject poverty in Calcutta – Jillian is a truly inspirational and professional keynote speaker. She uses her experience and motivational stories to inspire others to face their fears using the power of resilience, something she calls “He Irrepressible Mind.”. With her motivational words and her warmth, she engages and empathises with her audience. She has received some of the most amazing testimonials from Corporates, universities & schools alike. To review some of these, please visit https://jillianhaslam.
Aside from being a successful businesswoman, philanthropist, and conference speaker, she is a published author “Indian.English”. An inspirational story about her life, of finding the road to success, and how she utilises her wisdom and vision is a story that will make anyone take action in their lives.