Here it is, 1:40am on a Friday night and I am writing a blog when I should be sleeping. However, I couldn't go to bed without pouring my heart out first.
When I started my business, I promised that I would always be transparent and open. Being transparent and open sometimes leaves us feeling vulnerable and naked but the healing process from it by just releasing what's there is so worth it. Which is what I'm doing tonight. I didn't think I would write about this. In fact, when it happened, I forgave and let go but the message was still stuck in my heart to share. I'm hoping that someone who reads this benefits from it because I feel strongly this is why I couldn't just go to sleep with it on my heart.
No matter if you're an entrepreneur, a direct sales person, working for a company, a student, a child, or just an every day person... you will receive feedback in your life from those around you. Whether it's requested feedback like I ask for from clients so I can keep my business ethics in check, or maybe it's a career review for a promotion, or it could be a school evaluation from your teacher. We all face it. No matter what we're doing in life, there's always what my mother calls "the peanut gallery" that offers their opinion of who you are, what you're doing and how you're doing it right or wrong.
For my business, I do this twice a year. I reach out to my amazing clients and followers / supporters and I request they fill out a survey. Within this survey, there are several questions that challenge and evaluate how I am as a business owner. Am I effectively helping my clients when they book and after? Am I helping them to feel comfortable during their session? Did I make them feel welcome? Does my website and online presence help to make them feel empowered as women since this is what I specialize in? There are plenty of questions on there, a rating system for them to rate my performance and even areas where they can offer their own feedback and comments.
Before I release these to the public for filling out, I pray and I ask that God reminds me to take each and every one with an open mind and open heart. I mentally prepare myself for the worst and pray for the best. Now, I'm going to be honest here.. there are some reviews that I receive that make me cringe because I do feel as though I let that client down or that I dropped the ball in some way. But you know what that means? It means I am 1. a human; not a machine and I do and will continue to make mistakes but, most importantly, 2. it means there's room for improvement and that's what I work towards. Improving my business for my clients and for myself. I am a firm believer that a business should never stop growing, should never stop learning and should never stop trying to find new ways to improve the overall experience for their clients. So I welcome the feedback; good or bad, with an open heart and open mind.
But every so often, there's someone who slips through the cracks and steps away from trying to be helpful towards your business and just wish to cause harm to you, directly. Sometimes, they use your request for feedback as a chance to speak or they attack you out of no where, without reason.
I mention this because... the truth is, not everyone wants to see you happy and not everyone wants to see you grow or succeed. There are people who go through things and their only release is to make others feel the way that they do. There are people who generally just complain. There are people who are very hard to please, no matter what is done for them. There are people who will lie for their benefit if it means they can be the victim in a situation. The list goes on and the "reasons" add up but does that make them right? Absolutely not.
This is where being true to yourself and knowing your purpose comes in. You see, God gave me a ministry through my photography business. It may not be a ministry like many would think, but He entrusted a gift in my spirit to help women who are dealing with low self confidence or just women in general who are in a place in their lives and need a pick me up. With that, comes great responsibility and often times, attacks. It's a double edged sword, truly. There are many, many clients I can reach and help and then there are some that I cannot because there's something greater they're dealing with than what I am capable of helping with. There are some followers who lash out when they see others happy and often times, they're a friend or family member of my client; which is sad to witness. There have been comments I've had to delete, messages I've had to ignore and people I've had to block - all in the calling for what I do. And I'm ok with carrying that through. Especially if it means my clients are happy!
But I'm not going to lie.. there are times when it hurts. Whether the attacks are towards me or a client messages me and tells me that a family member hurt them with comments. Those things aren't ok for anyone to have to deal with but we do. And I'm sure as you're reading this, you're probably able to think of someone in your life or that has crossed your path that has done this to you. So what do you do with that?
I'm no expert in the matter for sure and I definitely have my days where I just sit and get emotional over the hurtful things that are said with intentional harm meant.. but, then I clean myself up and move on. My advice to you?
1. You control what you take in and what you breathe out. It's that simple. No matter what is said to you, you CAN control what you'll take in for your benefit and greater cause and just the same, you can choose what to ignore. Negativity in the heart starts like a rash. The more you scratch at it, the further it spreads. So the best thing to do? Acknowledge that it hurt, add some healing to it with reminding yourself of who you are and then move on. Breathe it out.
2. Utilize the block feature. This includes family and close friends. Seriously. There have been many times I've had to simply forego responding to a message or criticism and just utilize the block feature. Now, clearly, this doesn't work in life (unfortunately lol) but you can choose to rid them from your presence by simply staying away. Toxic relationships can come from anywhere; strangers, parents, co-workers, bosses, interns, etc. and it's not fair to you or to them to keep that relationship open for communication. Shut it down; fast.
3. Cry it out. Really. There have been many nights (tonight being one of them for me) where you just have to allow yourself to be a human and FEEL emotion. So why hold it in? It's ok to be strong and tough, but remember that bottling up emotions can lead to so many bigger problems than you could ever imagine. They don't stay bottled up. They seep out into other areas and soon we find ourselves lashing out at others for what someone else has done to us. So go ahead! Cry it out if you have to but don't allow yourself to fall victim to it. There's a big difference. Get the emotions out and then let them go. Sometimes after a good cry, I remind myself of why I even started doing what I do. Soon, things come back into perspective and I'm back on my feet.
4. Journal the good. This one is so important. Whenever you receive a compliment or positive feedback, find somewhere to journal it. Even if it was a random woman in Target that looked at you and said "I love your style!" .. journal it. I have journals on top of journals to remind myself of the good things God has done in my life and of the amazing things I've encountered. Whenever I begin to doubt or I allow myself to fall victim to something, I open up the journals and I begin reading, line by line, the good things that have happened. Suddenly, this one bad comment, review, critique, what have you.. it doesn't seem quite so big any longer. In fact, it doesn't seem to matter much anymore at all.
So this is my prayer - I pray that you do not find yourself in this situation.. the one that I was in tonight, where someone intentionally caused harm with their words for no reason at all... but if you do, I pray that you'll remember this blog and you'll know what to do. I pray that you'll be reminded of all of the amazing things you have done and encountered. And mostly, I pray that you'll hear that still small voice reminding you of just why you were created. <3
Happy Saturday, friends.