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‘ Haters Gonna Hate’ – easier said than done, indeed.
How many highly sensitive, intense, and gifted people believe they have been ‘hated’ all their lives?
Are you being viciously attacked? Do you feel ‘hated’ by people? Do you hide who you are as a result of internalized shame?
As a highly sensitive, gifted and intense person, it can sometimes feel like the world is out to get you. Whether it’s criticism from peers or judgment from strangers, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of negativity that comes your way. One phrase that can help you stay grounded during these times of adversity is ‘Haters gonna hate.’
Many highly sensitive, intense, and gifted people feel they have lived their whole lives surrounded by nothing but enemies.
‘Haters gonna hate’- easier said than done.
People around them have oppressed, silenced, and persecuted them.
Even when they did their best, they were bullied and oppressed by people in authority.
Even those who are supposed to love and protect them are finally joining the chorus of those who find them “too much.”
Bullies have hurt them and have sadly come to believe in the gaslighting messages.
Hate is a strong word, but it vividly describes what many highly sensitive, intense, and gifted people have lived through on a daily basis. In this essay, “hate” will be used in a broad sense, covering a wide range of experiences from irritation to prejudice to outright hostility and everywhere in between.
Breaking free from the shackles of shame can be difficult. But by learning to say, in the most empowered way possible, ‘Haters gonna hate,’ we can accept that not everyone will like us and hold our heads high. Rather than allowing negative opinions to shape our self-worth and identity, we shine as we are.
Saying ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ by understanding the true face of hate
There are several reasons why someone rejects (what they see in ) you. It can be their own insecurities and doubts, or it can simply be an incompatibility. But if you are being met with not just a courteous ‘no,’ but attacks, vicious aggression, or passive aggression if it has reached a level where it can be felt as ‘hate,’ then there is more to it than it meets the eye.
Psychologists have long assumed that people’s hatred toward someone expresses their self-hatred. Behind unfounded hatred is projection, a primitive defense. Blaming someone else can protect the hater from the real source of pain, which probably is self-hatred, deep insecurity, fear, or paranoia that others hate them. Hate provides a false sense of power that allows them to create the illusion of control over events that are, in reality, out of their hands.
Someone cannot ‘hate’ you if they hardly know you. Most of the time, they really don’t. Their ‘hate’ has little to do with who you are but with their unprocessed shadows. Perhaps certain things about you, something you have said or done, no matter how benign, cause them to project negatively onto you. They are basing their hateful judgment on fleeting personal feelings, history, and trauma.
When someone “hates” you for no apparent reason, they struggle to process some of the parts they reject in themselves. For example, if someone makes you feel like you are “too much” (too much, talk too much, feel too much, etc., etc.), it is probably because they think that they do not deserve a place in the world and do not dare to express themselves. So when you shine, they attack you out of latent envy. On the other hand, when someone attacks you for your honesty, it is because they have not allowed themselves to live an authentic life with their true selves, and the lies they tell themselves drive them to act like no one else can tolerate or deserve the truth. In other words, they feel the need to bring you down because they feel exposed for their own lack of courage, psychological limitations, or shame that they had held themselves back so much.
As psychoanalyst and author Adam Philips puts it: “Finding hate objects may be every bit as essential as finding love-objects, but if one can tolerate some of one’s badness — meaning recognize it as yours — then one can take some fear out of the world.” ( On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life)
The hatred that seems to come from nowhere is also related to a complex psychological mechanism called projective identification. The idea is that people who hate and attack you are trying to eliminate feelings they cannot contain within themselves. They unload an ugly, dirty, painful part of themselves and dump it on you in the unconscious hope that you will process and ‘digest’ it for them. Unfortunately, projective identification is so vicious and unconscious that it will make you feel that the other person’s “badness’ is yours. For example, if you feel ashamed of “asking too much,” this could be exactly how their parents have made them feel. If you feel paranoid and bullied, you might pick up on the feeling they had under the oppression of an abusive sibling. In projective identification, it is almost inevitable that you will identify with another person’s trauma, whether or not you realize it. This can be especially striking if you are particularly empathic by nature and have highly active mirror neurons.
But people who do not have dark and undigested psychic material inside them do not feel the need to attack or project onto others. Only hurt people hurt others. So as we learn to say ‘haters gonna hate’, we must constantly remind ourselves that people rarely judge us on our merits and demerits but mostly on their own projections.
Hatred is the mask of the inept.”
Not Saying ‘Haters Gonna Hate’- Are You Hiding?
Rationally, we know ‘haters gonna hate.’ We see that receiving unfounded criticism in life is almost a given. But how easy is it to internalize other people’s hateful projections? Internalization means that you adopt other people’s attitudes and opinions about you. When you internalize hate, you transfer what another person says or does onto yourself and believe you have something to be ashamed of. It becomes a part of your reality. Sadly, you are more prone to internalizing other people’s hatred if you were not adequately nurtured by a loving parent in your childhood but were treated with abuse and neglect. If you were traumatized, hate feels familiar; being dismissed and attacked gives you the same somatic feeling you got from your parents and siblings as a child.
As someone who is neuro-divergent, different, and has been told for most of your life that you are “too much,” you have learned to be ashamed of who you naturally are. Now, it just seems too risky to expose yourself. The lingering feeling is that any exposure may attract more humiliation and that it is utterly unsafe to be you.
Don’t forget, however, that there is a risk of not taking a risk. The price we pay for staying too safe is so high that the creativity, opportunities, and time you forgo may not come back.
You may have the hidden belief that if you never speak your mind or admit your truths, you keep yourself from the risk of attacks. However, this leads to a “half-life” with little vitality. You lose yourself when you become so conflict-averse that you never speak your mind, never define your preferences, and try to be a chameleon or please others in every situation.
You may have lost faith in your voice and come to believe you have nothing meaningful or unique to offer the world. You may be so busy pandering to others you are not standing up for what is important or true to you. But you lose touch with your ability to create and inspire.
When you hide, you also feel disconnected and isolated from the world because you cannot find people who love and celebrate you if you do not allow yourself to be seen.
Hiding, shrinking, not taking a stand, and not speaking your mind may temporarily protect you from criticism or condemnation. Still, in the long run, it has the opposite effect. Over-apologizing, being overly passive, people-pleasing, and limiting yourself only irritate and provoke those close to you who want to see you shine. It may also mean that eventually, you only surround yourself with oppressive, domineering people who don’t tend to respect others.
Ultimately, hiding in fear and muteness does not make us happier. On the contrary, self-silencing to the point you have an undefined personality can lead to inner emptiness, identity confusion, and a chronic sense of disorientation. When we hide and shrink our true, intense, vital selves deep down, we feel existentially guilty for betraying ourselves, leading to a lingering low-grade depression that we can’t shake off. No matter how hard those around us try to suppress our voices, there is a gnawing feeling inside us that says something is wrong on a deep level.
As a highly intense, sensitive, and gifted person with so much passion and love to give, burying your zest for life beneath layers of conformity is a tragedy.
“Don’t think that just because you made it to the next level that the haters and naysayers disappear. Remember, new levels bring new devils.”
Why you need to learn to say ‘Haters Gonna Hate’
Learning to truly learn, accept and thrive in the reality that ‘haters gonna hate’ is one of the most critical steps to thriving as a sensitive and gifted human being and finding and refining your voice as a creative soul.
You may not consider yourself someone with a “voice,” a creative leader, or someone who can truly change the world. But you are a leader if you have something to say, see the world uniquely, and love to give. There will be people who, like you, are unusual, sensitive, and intense, who will benefit from hearing your voice and knowing your experience and wisdom. You have a voice because of your unique life experiences; you tell your story and deliver your message in a way only you can do. Because there is only one of you, you must believe it is your calling to express your distinct voice.
Here is how (my hero) Seth Godin defines ‘art’: “Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything creative, passionate, and personal. “Elsewhere, he also said: “Art is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen we express our true voice and put something new into the world, there is no guarantee of success.” Indeed, it feels risky because it ‘may not work.’ And unlike structured environments like schools, there is no benchmark for our achievements, no ladder to climb to a set destination.
We must therefore define the term “success” for ourselves.
There are many ways to define success, but an authentic definition of success usually does not mean everyone likes you. Quite the opposite is true. Envy and hostility are commonly directed at people who have made it to the top and dare to shine as they are. But beyond high school, thriving does not mean winning the popularity contest. It means living your truest, best, and most generous version.
Being a creative leader is like being a river. A river gives freely because it trusts that it will always be cared for. A river refreshes itself by flowing freely and organically. A river is rejuvenated when it gives and flows, becoming a dead swamp when it stops giving.
Even imperfect, success means not wallowing in your mistakes and keeping going. To borrow a famous analogy from Alan Watts, Just like when we are playing an instrument, we must keep going even if we know we have hit a wrong note, as that is the only way the music can continue. So likewise, do not let a shame attack stop your music from manifesting as a gift to the world.
In other words, success means being able to prevail and say ‘haters gonna hate’ even when you are ignored, shamed, and attacked.
It means extending your reach and making so much difference in the world that unwarranted criticism and hostile attacks are droplets in a vast ocean.
It’s about being authentic and engaged, even when you feel exposed, threatened, and scared.
It means moving forward even when you want to recoil in shame.
Ultimately, success is not just about achieving our goals. Instead, it is embracing the journey, learning from our experiences, and continuing to grow and evolve as individuals.
By doing so, we can create a meaningful, fulfilling, and truly our own life.
“(To the haters) You are not extinguishing the bright lights of mankind, you’re simply burying yourself in an unmarked grave.”
One person’s medicine is another person’s poison
What if we are not talking about hateful strangers but someone we have engaged meaningfully with? It is disheartening when a relationship fails or when a date, a friend, or an acquaintance rejects us. It hurts because we had expectations. Apart from the bad feelings of being hated, we have to cope with the grief of losing a potential relationship. We could not comprehend how our lovers have suddenly become our ‘haters,’ let alone shrugging our shoulders and say ‘haters gonna hate.’
There is a lot of advice in the self-help literature about learning our ‘lesson’ from a failed relationship or a communication lapse. This may sound right, but we must not take it too literally.
When relationships break down, especially if you analyze everything and drown in extreme self-scrutiny, your default position might be to assume that you did something wrong (which leads to guilt) or that something is wrong with you as a person (which leads to shame). So you might think the ‘lesson’ you ought to learn is to correct your flaws and change who you are. But is it possible that your ‘lesson’ is not ‘what have I done wrong,’ but that some people are not your people and will not give you the acceptance you seek?
No one can be loved by the entire human race. Even Gandhi and Mother Teresa had their critics. And the more defined a personality you have (not just being so conflict-avoidant that you try to agree with everything everyone says), the more you can solidify a set of values and opinions (which is a very good thing, as long as they do not become too rigid), the more likely you will have haters. But simultaneously, when you take a stance and tell the world what you are about, you are much more likely to be loved, admired, and respected. As the saying goes, “If everyone likes you, you are doing it wrong.”
The truth is that your personality, intensity, and gifts are indeed not for everyone.
To A, you are frighteningly confrontational, but to B, you are refreshingly direct and thank God you do not beat around the bush.
To A, you are cynical and gloomy; to B, you are intelligent and have exceptional critical thinking skills.
You are too fast and overzealous for A, but for B, you are just right, and they are overjoyed to have found someone who operates at their pace.
To A, you are scattered, but to B, you are spontaneous and fun.
To A, you are judgmental, but to B, you are intelligent.
You are too much for A but just right for B.
You get the idea.
Simply put, one person’s medicine is another person’s poison.
You’re not flawed, but you took hatred to heart because you tried to please people who will never be your friend or fan because of your intensity, intelligence, directness, and keen instinct.
Of course, this does not preclude you from learning and improving. However, there is only so much you can do to change your natural temperament. You can modify your behavior by being more diplomatic and paying more attention to context, but attempting to accommodate everyone’s preferences and expectations can quickly become a slippery slope. Learning to adapt is a sign of maturity, but expecting a personality transplant every time you enter a new situation is simply unrealistic.
You don’t have to get nasty or fight back, but you can learn to shrug your shoulders with certain relationships and say,’ Too bad, I am not for you, and you are not for me. But I will be myself and attract people who love and celebrate me for who I am.’
It’s especially difficult when those who criticize or gaslight you are people you feel are supposed to love you and be on your side. i.e., family members or friends from your childhood. Even when it becomes clear that these relationships no longer support you, blood ties and shared memories may make it extremely difficult for you to walk away or let these relationships go.
If you want to remain engaged, you can modify your expectations and mental positioning when you spend time with them. You can be courteous, but instead of expecting to be seen, heard, and appreciated, consider these engagements to be a kind of ‘service,’ where your focus is on giving rather than taking. Suppose you are highly gifted and tend to operate with passion, speed, and intensity. In that case, you may even wish to consciously and intentionally dilute some of your energy and insights to not threaten them with your sharp intuition and speed. Remember, you do not need to share your insights with them; try to enlighten or change them in any way, especially if that means you will be judged or disappointed.
Drowning in endless loops of self-criticism, believing that everything about you is wrong, and constantly trying to adapt to the changing weather of whoever wants whatever from you isn’t getting you anywhere.’ nor is it helping humanity.
Learning to be on your side is not narcissistic or self-delusory. Instead, by balancing self-love with discernment, you can have a clear and factual understanding of your true place in the world.
Concentrate solely on being the best version of yourself, making your light shine brighter, and discovering the light side of your shadows. These are the tasks at hand. Wasting even one minute on pleasing those not for you to please is simply delaying your path to abundance and meaning.
Remember, haters gonna hate.
“Friends ask you questions; enemies question you.”
A note on passive-aggressive hate
It would be one thing if someone could express explicitly what they dislike about us. That way, at the very least, we can move on to grieve and accept that we will never be able to please everyone. Some people, however, engage in passive-aggressive hatred. Rather than express themselves honorably, they attack and leave you traumatized without closure.
It is often the most painful when someone ends a relationship or engagement without explanation. They ‘ghost you,’ to use a colloquial term. They may suddenly stop contacting you or vanish. They may abruptly cease responding to your texts or phone calls. Passive aggressive hate sends a clear message: I’m rejecting you before you can reject me. Unfortunately, when a relationship ends this way, it can bring up the most painful self-doubt and self-criticism in intense people.
Regarding passive aggressiveness, it is important to recognize that the fault in communication lies with the other person, not you.
It would be “on you” if they tried to disagree with you and you stubbornly insisted on imposing your point of view. However, it’s quite a different story when they don’t express their discomfort and expect you to read their minds and care for their feelings.
Maybe it’s not their fault. Indeed, many of us have been traumatized by emotionally immature parents or been conditioned by schools and churches not to express our dissatisfaction openly, to hide our discomfort, and to avoid confrontation at all costs. Many people have taken it so far that they are muted when disagreeing with anything and must bottle things up until they explode. However, just because they can’t help but act this way does not make it right. It is their responsibility as adults to improve their psychological health and learn to respect others. They are accountable for growing out of passive-aggressive maneuvers.
Do you tolerate being treated with passive-aggressiveness without feeling anger? If this is the case, you might want to reconsider how much you are honoring yourself and those who love you by doing so.
When confronted with passive-aggressive hostility, you ought to defend and heal yourself by reclaiming your right to healthy anger. Anger has a poor reputation, but it is a highly valuable emotion. It is not good or bad but a messenger from your psyche and the collective unconscious.
This may not make sense on the surface, but when we deny ourselves the right to be angry, we begin to feel paranoid. Denial causes us to project our internal pain onto external sources, which reinforces the belief that everyone despises us and brings up the fear of persecution from an unknown source. Anger becomes paranoia because we twist our anger around, turn the arrow inward rather than point it outward, and start to suspect that ‘everyone’ is ‘angry’ with us. Shame and paranoia are both symptoms of anger repression rather than resolution and can derail your mental health.
When you deny your anger, you may think you are being mature and reasonable by not escalating a situation. However, this often only serves to enable toxic behaviors. Your hate will likely continue with their destructive tendencies since they haven’t been held accountable for their actions. Sure, allowing anger does not mean you must confront someone. You can choose just to let them go. But you must at least notice and admit to yourself that you are angry and give it some room to be felt.
Many highly sensitive people have become so disconnected from their anger that they are unable to recognize it when it arises. However, your body does not lie. To reclaim your right to anger, you can start by tuning in to what’s happening inside you and detect subtle signals that you have been attacked. Is it a tense muscle? Is your heart rate increasing? Do you have the sensation that something is getting stuck in your throat? An urge to move and fidget around? The desire to leave the room for no discernible reason? Everyone is different, but you can relearn listening to your anger by slowing yourself down, discerning, and practicing mindful awareness.
Haters gonna hate.
“Others have the right to criticize you unfairly. And you have the right to ignore them.”
Love, service, honor: Embodying ‘Haters Gonna Hate’ as a creative
One strategy for standing up to haters is to rise above. We all have a human self that is our everyday personality and a spiritual self that is connected to the collective unconscious.
See if you can raise your intention and expand your level of consciousness to the point where it isn’t about your ego.
When you do this, your creative work is solely for the benefit of the people you serve, who need to hear your message, rather than for your reputation or material gain.
When you are afraid of being judged or have doubts, remember your highest value and the most divine intention you can have.
What are your core values? What is it that you truly believe in? For whom do you do what you do?
When you are afraid and have doubts, I suggest you turn to the mantra of ‘love, service, and honor’ (Or find your own words for it!)
Find a mantra to help you remove your ego-self from the equation. This way, you are no longer dependent on how others perceive your message.
You are not here to win; you are here to serve.
Your creative work becomes entirely selfless when you put your audience’s needs before your own, whether they approve or not.
You become a catalyst, a conduit, a change agent, a channel, or a spirit endowed with a mission.
The ‘safest’ is not hiding; if you hide, you risk letting life slip by.
If you can’t let haters go, let their hate light a fire under your belly, and use them as leverage to grow bigger, stronger, and to a higher level of consciousness.
Remember, there is nothing you can do or change to please them. Haters gonna hate, and they will always find something to poke holes in and project onto. It is just their self-hatred in action. Since you cannot cure them, you cannot stop them from projecting onto you.
Therefore, do not try to edit yourself or water down your message only to have the illusion of safety. There are thousands and millions of people who are eagerly awaiting your words and contributions to the world.
And don’t let the naysayers stop you from creating.
Consider Galileo, Van Gogh, and Picasso. When you introduce something new and different into the world, it is natural for people to be dismissive at first. But if all these great artists allowed themselves to be silenced at that time, we may still think the world is flat.
Because there is only one you in the universe, if you do not bring what you have to the world, it will be lost for all time.
And whatever you say, speak, or create, someone will resonate.
Even if only one person finds your work and benefits from it, is that not worthwhile?
Whatever happens, when you show up fully, you will know in your old age that you did the right thing, at least for yourself.
If your ego is not at stake, there is no reason to be afraid of haters.
You may be temporarily bruised, but you can watch the pain pass without letting it stop you from contributing to the world.
If someone attacks you, do not waste energy acting defensively.
Never explain yourself or make excuses.
Show up every day and demonstrate your dedication through action and integrity.
We can not explain away a criticism. But we can be the bigger person.
Those who require it will receive it. The rest is irrelevant.
If some love you, others must hate you. There is no yang without yin, no light without darkness.
As long as you approach all situations with love, service, and honor and bring your best commitment and passion, people will see through it.
The next time you have doubts, ask yourself: What would love ask of me?
Ask yourself: What is my highest goal in love?
If I back out now out of fear, how would I feel about my decision a year from now?
Perhaps maturing as artists and spirits means we stop seeing ourselves as children needing love and approval.
Instead, we truly grow up and blossom into being a leader for others.
We must learn to love even when nothing is guaranteed in return.
We will speak up even if no one hears us.
We declare that we are not here to win. We’re here to help.
Always return to the beginner’s mind your original intentions – love, service, honor.
Written by Imi Lo
Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive and international experience in mental health and psychotherapy. Her books Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity and The Gift of Intensity are available worldwide and in multiple languages. Imi has two Master’s degrees; one in Mental Health and one in Buddhist Studies. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism and Stoicism.