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July 16, 2012

Working With The Negatives Can Make For Better Pictures

“Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” –James Bryant Conant

Blogging here on JillFit is a joy for me. It’s cathartic, it’s a good way to affirm the skills I am honing (both physical and mental), and to keep myself accountable. I started blogging on JillFit in late 2010 because I was passionate about having a place to share information, in my own “voice.” Miraculously, the following has grown and every day I am honored, humbled and appreciative for so many readers, friends, fellow fitness enthusiasts and those who can relate & want to share their story. I never thought that my experiences and struggles with fitness, nutrition and my physique were somewhat universal. It is great to have a place to relate to so many amazing women (and a few men!) :)

But, I have to give this disclaimer, which I have given often in my blogs: These are my own thoughts, based on my own personal experience (with myself and thousands of clients), my education (both formal and informal) and my expertise after spending the last 14 years entrenched in the fitness industry. Especially when it comes to mind-body posts or those about self-image and body struggles. I always speak from a place of experience. In addition to working in gyms doing everything under the sun since I was 16, I have competed in shows, landed magazine covers, worked as a booth girl, modeled all over the place, filmed DVD and OnDemand Workout videos, etc. And the bottom line for me after all that experience is this:

I still don’t know. And I don’t claim to have all the right answers. I only share what I’ve learned and experienced.

And this blog, like all internet spaces, has given me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and experienced on a larger scale. That’s the only difference between my blog and my telling my best friend about a new book I just read–it’s on the internet.

For those of you who have “stuck your neck out” and put your stuff out in a bigger way on a blog or website, you understand that when you do that, you open yourself up for criticism and negative feedback. I actually love negative feedback–not because I always agree with it or even take it to heart or change what I’m doing because of it (actually, that is rarely the case), but because it gives me an opportunity to grow as a person and to PRACTICE all of the introspection work that I do.

Enter blog comment from unknown person: “Jill, I find you judgmental and condescending. I don’t drink the kool-aid.”

Hmm, ok. I spend about 12 seconds getting defensive. And then I go much deeper with it. Here’s how I handle negative comments:

1) I don’t comment back.

I know that some people feel as though you have to “manage” your followers by always replying, but I don’t. First off, I don’t want to get caught up in having to justify how not judgmental or not condescending I am. She’s obviously already made up her mind. It’s a waste of my time. Second, I don’t dig negativity, period. Like Alwyn Cosgrove said, “If anyone has something negative to say on my Facebook page, I ban them immediately. I just don’t put negative shit in my head.”
Take-away: Keep calm & carry on. Being in reactive mode only fuels the fire.

2) It’s not my truth.

A comment like that a few years ago would have ruined me. I would’ve been so hurt, anxious and insecure. I am more practiced in “my shit” now and not nearly as insecure as I was. So I ask myself, honestly, “Am I judgmental? Am I condescending?” I don’t think that I am. In fact, I endeavor to be very NONjudgmental, especially with the people I work directly with like my clients and coaching members. So my truth is that I am not that way. Why would I let someone who read a single blog of mine define that for me? I won’t.
Take-away: Ask yourself, “What is my truth about myself?” Because that’s the only truth that matters. Just do you. There’s no one better. And if someone has a problem with that, they can make the decision to remove themselves from your presence. i.e. not read the blog :)

3) I take that back–I am judgmental.

We all are :) Not in a negative way, but in a very literal way. Humans are judging creatures, and we have been since we were born. I wake up in the morning and go outside. I say, “It’s hot out there!” <—This is a judgment about the weather. Not all judgments are negative. Byron Katie says, “Anything that someone else calls me, I can find an example in my past history of a time when I was that.” This is true. I can locate plenty of times in my past that I have judged people. So I guess she’s right! :)
Take-way: Surprise people by agreeing with them! Lol. I can practice putting my ego aside and find examples when I have been the exact thing I’ve been called.

4) I see this as a GIFT for me.

It’s an opportunity for me to learn and grow. I say this often on JillFit: I am grateful for my struggles and for the obstacles that come up and try me. These experiences always allow me to PRACTICE what I talk about so often on here. Resiliency is an important quality to me, and I want to sharpen my ability to be resilient. Opportunities are always there for us if we are looking for them.
Take-away: Cherish the struggles because they are opportunity for growth, learning and building resiliency. It’s not always “fun” but it is always worth the fight in the end: “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.”

5) I give the person the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t get mad. If anything, I am sorry that my being myself has upset her. But I don’t know what I can do about that, really. So I say, hey, we all have our stuff and I try to put myself in her shoes. We all have our “insecurity glasses” with which we view the world sometimes. It can cloud our perception and we end up seeing whatever it is we want to see. We are meaning-making machines. We seek out our own prejudices.
Take-away: Give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t get angry. People do what they do, let them. Don’t take it personally.

6) I don’t let it take away from the impact the blogs have for all those who enjoy reading it.

I am humbled and grateful every day for anyone who even reads these things, or emails me or leaves a comment. It brings me so much joy, to know that people can feel related to and inspired because of something I’ve shared. It frankly floors me. I am beyond appreciative. So, I will keep doing it for as long as I can because the positive impact is so much more important. It’s what really counts.
Take-away: “It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.” –Tim Ferriss

Hopefully you guys can find something useful in here for you, for when you come across challenges and obstacles. For me, every moment is a gift and opportunity to learn. And it’s awesome. And THANK YOU for being a part of it with me. oxox Jill

It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” –Byron Katie

Related: The Happiness Mindset: 6 Truths

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