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How to deal with trolls and bullies

Updated: Mar 13

I think for many of us, even though we’re incredibly driven and we really WANT to have this amazing business, the fear of being humiliated becomes a huge reason to NOT do the things we really need to do to get there. That fear of judgement and public embarrassment can be so huge and so damaging.

Need more confidence? Here are 5 ways you can overcome imposter syndrome now.

I wanted to talk about trolling and bullying this week because it feels pretty topical after the England football results and the vile abuse and racist attacks that occurred afterwards - if you’re listening in another part of the world that may mean absolutely nothing to you but I’m sure you’ve come across bullying at some point in your life and this is probably a familiar story to you in other ways. I don’t know if this resonates with you but I have noticed a real common thread with my clients and other entrepreneurs in general - I think MOST of us have at some point in our lives experienced bullying, or been victims of emotional abuse and so we’re really driven to do this to prove that we CAN do it and we ARE worthy of success - because we’ve been kept small for too long. But because of those old experiences, we often have massive fear around visibility and really struggle to put ourselves out there, let the walls down and be open, honest and vulnerable - which of course is SO important to do in our content, to help us build that rapport and trust with our audience which is SO essential to generating leads! I think for many of us, even though we’re incredibly driven and we really WANT to have this amazing business, the fear of being humiliated becomes a huge reason to NOT do the things we really need to do to get there. That fear of judgement and public embarrassment can be so huge and so damaging.

If you think about it, that fear and sabotage spills into lots of other areas of business as well - the people pleasing, wanting to give time or valuable products and services away for free so people like us more, fear of putting our prices up because of what people might think, fear of sales. And in the bigger picture, fear of taking our businesses to the next level because of what our friends and family might think, or of leaving our peer group and ruffling feathers.

I’ve known people spend literally thousands on memberships and on services they no longer wanted or weren’t actually finding that good, and get stuck in this trap of spending money on things that were actually really damaging their mental wellbeing and their business just because they were so afraid of the fallout if they decided to cancel.

Isn’t that massive?

When we think about the bare bones of it - we literally sabotage our own success and give away the things we’ve worked really hard for, for fear of nothing more than what someone else MIGHT think or say. Because 99% of the time, that’s the worst that could happen - a few horrible comments. Somebody having a go at us personally or questioning our professional skills. Yet in our minds we build it up to be this massive disaster that’s going to happen - we don’t often even have a really clear picture of what that might be, but maybe we imagine getting a bad reputation, clients leaving us, people being put off signing up with us or buying our thing.

And that just stops us in our tracks - because there is nothing that scares us more than fear of abandonment. So we keep playing small, hiding ourselves away instead and letting these imaginary bullies or those imaginary uncomfortable comments stop us from creating an amazing future for ourselves - just in case. Just in case it all goes wrong? Just in case a few people don’t like us. I’ll never do that thing I really want to do because it might upset a few people - who clearly don’t have my best interests at heart anyway. When we think about it like that, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that is in no way to knock anyone who’s in that position because I know exactly how big and how terrifying it feels to be afraid of speaking up. This is subconscious stuff, it’s not coming from our rational mind at all - which is why it’s SO powerful.

I lived for years with this absolute terror of voicing an opinion and being seen and heard - to the extent I wouldn’t ever disagree or put my foot down and would go to ridiculous lengths to people please.

Need more confidence? Here are 5 ways you can overcome imposter syndrome now.

It led me into controlling relationships, I almost ended up moving away from home and everything I loved… I was in a financially abusive relationship, and completely abdicated control over my future to other people who were more confident. I stopped doing the things I loved - until I realised that something was deeply, deeply wrong with that and things needed to change!

Thankfully now I have an equal & loving relationship, I’m free to pursue everything I want in life on MY terms and I love what I do!

I’ve also worked with clients whose businesses have literally gone from 6 figures to a grinding halt because of online bullying and the powerful hold that has had over them - they’ve just completely cut themselves off from posting and putting themselves and their products and services out there. For me, it wasn’t until I had hypnotherapy that I really felt confident enough to start voicing my own feelings and there is NO way I could have got to where I am in my business now without dealing with that huge irrational fear that ruled my life - and that’s how I help my clients move past their struggles to! I think it really helps to recognise and acknowledge that growing a business is an incredibly vulnerable thing to do. I think the only thing I can think of that’s more vulnerable is being a celebrity - and we almost DO have to become celebrities in a way to get ourselves known and keep attracting people into our world! So like celebrities, I think we have to almost go in expecting that by being visible and standing for something we’re going to attract some negative attention along with the positive. Much as bullying and trolling is appalling behaviour, it is just part and parcel of human nature and it’s pretty inevitable that if we do anything that involves interacting with other humans, we’re going to end up coming across some pretty unpleasant outbursts at times. Even if we did nothing very exciting with our lives, it would still happen. Even if we tried our hardest to please everyone on the planet - it would still happen.

Even if we were working in a job we hated - the chances are we’d come across somebody having a bad day and taking it out on us at some point.

So I always like to remember that when I DO have those encounters - it’s NOT ABOUT ME. It’s always, always about what’s going on for that person in their lives - and the negative emotions and energy they’re putting out there to the world are just a reflection of all the bad stuff that’s going on inside them.

Maybe they’re really struggling in their business. Maybe they’ve had a really crappy day and you’ve just happened to push their buttons.

Maybe they’re so jealous and so wound up by the thought of competition that the only way forward they can see is to have a go, to attack the people who seem to be doing better than they are.

And I think by shifting your focus in that way you can really shield yourself from the impact.

Because it isn’t what happens to us so much as how we respond to it that makes us feel bad. And that’s another wonderful thing to remember - you have the power in any moment to choose how other people make you feel.

So if someone gives you grief, you can choose to take it and internalise it… or you can choose to just let it bounce off you, stand in your own power and your own integrity and know that you have done your best and you are a good person..

Put another way - you can allow this person to continue to take from you - take your happiness, your energy and hours of your time worrying about them - or you can take from them instead by not letting them affect you… and even using the fact they’ve tried to tear you down to make you determined to keep going in spite of their efforts to sabotage you and prove them wrong! Being in business is incredibly vulnerable.

If I think about it, I have had to constantly break new ground in order to grow my business since I started building my coaching business online, and I’m doing so much stuff now that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing a year ago. If I had listened to that little voice that says “don’t post that, someone out there might disagree” every time… I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. I definitely wouldn’t have a podcast!

Need more confidence? Here are 5 ways you can overcome imposter syndrome now.

I’d never have sold out my 1:1s. I’d never have established my membership or mastermind. I’d never have even gone live in my group. And I cannot imagine how much harder it would have been to get my business off the ground without feeling free to put my thoughts out into the world. And looking at things from the other side of the fence now, if you’re finding yourself holding back on posting and sharing your personality with the world because of that fear of judgement, I’d love you to know that it has been SO worth it. The good has FAR outweighed the bad! In over a year of posting and commenting most days I’ve had probably 2 or 3 slightly negative comments - the rest have been nothing but supportive.

I haven’t gone looking for any negative ones, mind you, and that’s probably another good part of the strategy - just focus on where you’re going, forget analysing where you’ve been or what’s been said! But honestly, I have met so many wonderful, inspirational people on that journey and I feel like I’ve built this really supportive online community of people I’ve got to know through various things I’ve done. I’ve left the memberships and coaches I’ve outgrown - and it’s been fine. I think if you’ve genuinely reached a point where moving on feels good, then that’s absolutely the right thing to do and if it does put people’s noses out of joint then it’s really their issue, not yours. All you can do is treat people as kindly and respectfully as you can and go out there with genuine good intentions - and I think if you do that then 99% of what you receive back is going to be positive and supportive.

So don’t let that 1% hold you back and definitely don’t let anyone else’s negative state of mind get in YOUR way. They don’t deserve your energy and attention - the rest of the world does and it’s waiting for you. Get out there and shine! Need more confidence? Here are 5 ways you can overcome imposter syndrome now.

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