THIS is one post that I never dreamed that I’d be writing.
Nor is it one that I hope anyone needs to read. But I’m writing it, because sadly, this is something that has recently happened to me which means, in all probability, it could happen to any of us at any time.
I’ve experienced being truly gossiped and talked about twice in my life.
The first time, I was sixteen years old, targeted by a typical bunch of mean girls who spread rumours and lies about me and my best friend for the entirety of our final year of school.
Proper playground bully type of tactics which stung a bit but sure helped to make us popular.
But this time round, as an adult and woman in her mid thirties, it’s been a little more serious and incredibly disappointing and frustrating.
I do know who the person is and I’ve heard from many people about what this person has been up to but that’s not what I want to talk about today. For this isn’t a post about them or their behaviour.
But it is a post for anyone who may ever have to go through an unpleasant situation such as this. For those feeling alone or like no one is on their ‘side’.
Here’s how to survive a personal attack on your reputation, without losing your mind or dignity.
ACCEPT WHAT’S HAPPENING
I always think the worst thing you can do when you find yourself in a bit of a ‘shit storm’ is to keep your head in the sand. Why? Because you need to understand and acknowledge what is going on.
It hurts to think that someone is hell bent on trying to destroy you. It also beggars belief. After all what kind of person does such a thing?
But you need to accept it. Accept it, realise that there’s not a damn thing you can really do about, feel the anger, feel the disappointment and then move on as quickly as you can.
ASSESS THE DAMAGE
Look around and assess how much damage the person has caused. Have people changed towards you? Have things gone quiet on the work or social front? Have some things suddenly stopped?
I quickly realised that someone was working hard to destroy my personal reputation when I began to notice all of the above and it didn’t take a genius to figure out who was behind it.
So the damage was easy to see.
People whom I believed to be friends distanced themselves from me very quickly. I lost regular visitors to my blog. Some people ‘unfollowed’ me on social media or began to ignore my interactions. I also lost ‘back links’ to my blog and never heard from some ‘friends’ ever again.
The damage was obvious and easy to spot and as I knew who and where it was coming from, it made things much easier to cope with and helped me to feel in control.
LEARN FROM IT
When major challenges appear in our lives, such as a personal attack like this, life can feel pretty bleak, but I’m a firm believer that they can help us to learn and grow.
I wouldn’t wish what has happened to me over the past six months on anyone, however in a funny sort of way it’s been almost a blessing in many respects.
Because having my name dragged through the mud – albeit incredibly unpleasant – has been a life changer for me. So much good has come from it.
It’s taught me (again!) to trust my instincts about people. So for e.g, the first time I met the person who has tried to damage my reputation, I very quickly got ‘bad vibes’. But – and this is my fault – I chose to ignore them.
I’ve also learned that if someone goes out of their way to merrily tell you about personal grievances they have with others (often many others) or asks you to distance yourself from a person, to beware. Because there’s a high probability that one day you’ll also be on their hit list.
Some things have hurt. For example, losing some friends I genuinely cared for has been painful at times.
But the silver lining is that I’ve realised that true friends would never walk away so easily because of the words of another, so in some ways, they’ve done me a huge favour.
I think most of us would rather have a handful of loyal mates in their corner than a hundred or so friendly pals whom are quite happy to ‘leg it’ when someone fills their minds with hatred.
So on a positive note, situations like this really do show you who your friends are.
DON’T GO ON A REVENGE ATTACK
One of the hardest things as a human being is to not to go on the attack when someone is attacking you. Particularly when it’s been done unfairly and covertly.
But I urge you not to.
Sure, every fibre of your being may be after blood or ready to spill some, but in my opinion it’s best to let the anger go as quickly as possible and move on with your life.
As I mentioned at the beginning, you unfortunately cannot stop anyone saying dreadful things about you nor can you stop people believing or acting on what they are told.
But. You can keep your dignity. You can keep your cool. You can learn from all the nastiness thrown at you and take away some good.
So sit back, let it go, learn the lessons and wait for karma to do its worst.
And never forget – people always find the truth out in the end.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
As hurt or as angry or bewildered as you might be, don’t for one moment stop and let them affect your life. The motto ‘keep calm and carry on’ could never be more apt for this situation.
Use all that anger you feel and channel it into your work. Use that feeling of outrage to become a better person. Keep working, keep living and once you know how the land lies, stop paying the situation your attention.
They will probably hate you for it as these kind of people seem to feed off hurting and trying to ruin others. But you will feel a million times better so head up, shoulders back and on you go.
(AND FINALLY!) FEEL SORRY FOR THEM
If you can.
Sure they don’t deserve it but just ask yourself this…who would you rather be?
The type of person who enjoys trying to destroy others or the person who rises above such an attack with grace, moving on without as little as a backward glance.
Pity them, feel genuinely sorry for them and be proud of the fact that you’re a better person who would never, ever dream of stooping so low.