I avoid controversy the same way I avoid great white sharks: I don’t need it or want it swimming in my waters.
As a writer, it’s not always possible.
On more than one occasion I’ve written articles that generated angry emails.
A recent slideshow I wrote for MSN, for example, about reasons not to have children resulted in two readers hunting me down for the sole purpose of telling me I was the worst person on earth.
(For the record, I have nothing against children and was actually one myself many years ago.)
One reader clearly researched me thoroughly, judging by the insults she hurled at me.
The other got me on my website’s live chat (so I had no idea what was about to be said) just to call me the “scum of the earth” and tell me “you’ll never know what it’s like to love someone.”
It was not an op-ed piece but a story I was assigned (not that it should have made anyone angry enough to warrant such vitriol). Each quote in the story came from an expert and the whole slideshow was a bit tongue-in-cheek.
In other words: not my opinion. Just the facts, ma ‘am, which was why the personal attack took me so much by surprise.
Another time a reader sent me an irate email and then called my editor to tell her she should fire me. The topic that flipped her lid? A story about the pros and cons of using ice versus heat on an injury.
I only wish that was my biggest problem in life.
She disagreed with one of the PhD experts, and blamed me for the “misinformation,” which actually wasn’t at all.
Fortunately, my editor backed me up and even called me to tell me this “crazy person” contacted her.
So when last Thursday’s blog post resulted in some hate mail, at first I was baffled.
What did I say?
Ah… then I saw my faux pas: I made a political reference (which I’ve since changed). Not only do I avoid controversy but I don’t follow politics in the least bit. It was simply a barb I thought would add humor to the sentence.
Obviously, it backfired.
I figured if a couple people were angry enough to email me, others may feel the same.
So I fell on my sword (although there was hardly one to fall on), and sent out a mass apology to all of my nearly 7,000 subscribers.
Then a surprising thing happened… people (maybe you?) emailed to tell me they found the post very funny. And many added how much they enjoy my silly sense of humor and told me I should “never change.”
This warmed my heart in ways I can’t begin to describe.
In fact, it completely turned around the entire situation. One minute I was about to book a flight on the next Mars mission and the next minute I was welling up with tears of gratitude.
This made me think: We all have bad days. It’s part of the human experience, right?
Some days you argue with a friend, other days something catastrophic happens that won’t simply go away by taking a few deep breaths.
Nonetheless. I’ve found some of the following practices helpful whenever I’m trying to get out of a funk or otherwise looking for a way to improve my perspective.
Maybe some will help you, too.
And by the way, THANK YOU for reading this and for refraining from throwing flame throwers at me if you’ve ever disagreed with me in the past.
In my case, when I realized I angered some people I immediately sent out a letter of apology. I didn’t know if it would change anything for those who took offense, but I took responsibility and felt better knowing I tried to mend fences, come what may.
2. Get away from the situation
Take a walk outside. Go shopping. Take a break from whatever’s bothering you, especially if it’s a certain person. It doesn’t solve the problem, but often when you go back it doesn’t seem as bad and/or you may figure out a solution.
3. Ask for help
Call a supportive friend, preferably someone who makes you laugh and reminds you you’re smart, beautiful and that this, too, will pass. Talk it out. I usually start by saying, “Hey, am I crazy…?”
4. Make a list of all the good things in your life
Gratitude works wonders. When you think your whole world’s going to total sh*t, look around you. If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world. Start there.
There’s no one like you. We all have our quirks. Using myself as an example, some people think I’m too muscular, wear too much makeup and laugh too loud. Guess what? What others think of me – or you — is none of my business. People will always have their opinions.
The traits that make YOU you and ME me are unlike anyone else. Embrace it.
In fact, that apology letter? Won’t happen again. Any subscriber is always welcome to A. unsubscribe, B. stop reading, or C. yell at the computer until they feel better.
What do you do to pick yourself up when you have a bad day? Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
And please remember to share this with you ageless friends. They’ll be sure to invite you to their pool party this summer.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to respond.
Until next time…
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Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.