Most people know I was bullied online a few years ago when I got off of a raw vegan diet because of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. I received all sorts of malicious comments, threats, and abuse via email, YouTube, my website, and other social media sites. It’s one thing to disagree and voice one’s opinion, but it’s another thing to attack someone online, send them harassing and threatening emails, and post abusive comments to intimidate them. It was definitely a rough time in my life, not only was I dealing with a severe Vitamin B12 deficiency, but I was also transitioning off a plant-based diet I was on most of my life, and I had just moved to Bali with no friends or family here for support. When I was a kid dealing with bullies, I never imagined I would be bullied as an adult. You think people grow out that stuff (or at least hope so).
The internet is full of all sorts of characters, and unfortunately some people can be pretty awful. I’ve met so many intelligent, creative, and talented people that have so much to share, and want to start blogs and websites, but are too scared to because of the cyberbullying they see online. They’re afraid they too might be targeted. It’s a pity that the internet, which is such a creative space full of limitless potential, has such a dark side.
So, how to deal with online bullying or cyberbullying? What did I do when I was bullied?
If you are being bullied, it’s really important to get support, have someone to talk to. Never suffer alone. Even if it’s just one person you can talk to, don’t carry that load on your own. When I was being cyberbullied, I reached out to my parents and brother, I let them know what was going on, and kept in close contact. Since I just moved to Bali when this was going on, I didn’t have any friends or family physically here, so I hired a counsellor/coach to talk to. I knew the more I talked about what was going on, the better perspective I had. If I didn’t talk about it, the problem felt enormous and heavy, but when I did talk about it, I was able to see it for what it was, and felt more empowered to tackle it.
I also found by talking about it, I was able to separate myself from the situation, and gain more of an outside perspective, this too helped a lot. I was able to move away from feeling victimized or targeted, and saw that there was no point in taking any of it personally. These people bullying me didn’t even know me (nor did I know them!!!).
Be like water. Never fight fire with fire.
Has someone ever screamed at you, and you reacted by screaming back even louder, only for that person to get even more fired up, and scream even louder back at you?
One thing I have learned over the years is never to fight fire with fire, it only makes a bigger fire. I always ask myself if it’s really worth it to fight back, is it worth my time, my energy, and what will it really do? With my type of character and personality, I’m definitely not into fighting, that’s just not me. I’m always striving to find a middle ground, I don’t need to prove myself, I don’t need to always be right, and I certainly don’t need everyone to agree with me. I’d rather be like water, eventually the other person’s fire will burn out, either on it’s own, or from me no reacting or feeding into it.
It’s their story, not mine.
Ever wonder who that person is who’s bullying you? I do. There were all sorts of people cyberbullying me and in different ways. The ones that were unrelenting, the ones that just wouldn’t go away, and became more and more aggressive and cruel, I always wondered about. It’s clear that people who bully, intimidate, and humiliate others have far deeper issues. It’s really not even about me, and why they’re bullying me, there’s something else going on inside of them, and hopefully one day they’ll be able to sort that out.
Promise yourself you’ll never be like them.
The one thing that I have taken away from being bullied, is I have clear examples as to how I never want to be or behave. If there’s anything I want to take away from that experience is to become a more open, compassionate, and accepting person. I might not agree with everyone, but I certainly don’t want to ever humiliate or belittle another person. There’s certainly other ways and options to live in this world more peacefully and harmoniously without everyone agreeing or having to be the same.
Vote with your click.
There’s an expression, “Vote with your money!” I like to apply that to my internet use, by voting with my computer clicks! After I dealt with all the online bullying, I re-evualated what websites I was visiting, what social media I was spending time on, and what I was reading and exposing myself to. I have to say, I became extremely sensitive to any online bullying, not only what was directed at me, but at other people as well.
Today, I choose to only visit websites and platforms that inspire me, that are creative, that I learn something from, and that fill me with positivity, hope, and inspiration. I believe in supporting those creative people doing wonderful, enlightening, educational, and cool things. That’s really where I want to be spending my time.
Aside from all the negativity, there was a lot of positivity as well.
Looking back at that time, as cruel as some people were, I was quite amazed by the outpouring of support I did receive. This far outweighed the online bullying, and when I focused on the kindness and support I was receiving, it empowered me to continue on my path, and not be swayed or give up.
I have to say I was quite taken by how people took the extra time to email me or leave comments supporting me and what I was doing, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with my decision or do things similarly. Even though there were some people within the raw food community that strongly opposed and voiced their disapproval of my decision to stop being on a raw vegan diet, there were many raw food teachers and leaders whom I looked up to, that reached out to offer me support, many of whom didn’t know me personally, but saw how I was being bullied online.
From that experience I definitely developed a thicker skin. I have to say I’ve also learned that no one’s opinion of me matters more than my opinion of myself. I’ve learned I can live more, be more, experience more, when I don’t seek the validation and approval from others, but instead honour myself, and live true to myself.
I’ve also learned that there is a delete button on my computer’s keyboard, and it’s there for a reason!!
Want to do a Juice Fast? Join the next 10 Day Juice Fasting Program starting Tuesday, March 3, 2015!!! The program includes menu planners to transition on and off the fast, fasting outline, daily videos specifically made to guide you through the fast (20-40 minutes long each) and an online forum to connect with everyone from around the world doing the juice fast with you! Natasha is on the private Juice Fasting Forum daily answering questions and offering additional support! CLICK HERE to sign-up!