There was once a man who constantly hurled insults at the Buddha. Every day he'd taunt and tease the Buddha. But the Buddha never seemed fazed.
Someone asked the Buddha why the man's insults never caused him offense. The Buddha replied:
"When someone offers you a gift, and you refuse to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?"
When I started writing articles online, I had no idea how much criticism I'd be opening myself up to.
I had no idea how vicious and cruel people can be when they're cloaked under the guise of Internet anonymity.
I had no idea that honesty and openness would be rewarded with attacks and insults.
I had no idea that I would spend hours pouring myself into an article intended to help others, only to hear them respond by telling me to "go to hell" or worse.
Beware the Trolls
Writing articles for the web seems like such a straightforward task. And it is – until the comments come in.
Some comments are positive and affirming. Some comments are curious and filled with eager, intelligent questions. And some are posted by people who troll the Internet, waiting for a chance to attack.
I announce a new investing project, and the trolls tell me they can't wait to read about my impending failure. I propose an idea that seems original or creative, and the trolls tell me I'm an idiot.
It's not just me. This happens to everyone who posts online, especially as his or her audience grows. Just read any comment thread under a highly-watched YouTube video or a popular blog.
Who knew that sharing your life, your thoughts and your experiences on the Web could open you up to such vulnerability?
Reject the Gift
Of course, there's a ying to every yang, a silver lining to every cloud. Sharing your life with anonymous strangers makes you more vulnerable than expected, but it also teaches you an important lesson:
Vulnerability creates strength.
We're taught to view vulnerability as a sign of weakness. It's equated with fragility, with being soft and meek.
But once we put ourselves in a position in which we're vulnerable, we learn to morph that into power and confidence.
We learn that we can't be shaken. We learn to tune out the nay-sayers. We learn to pay deeper attention to the people who really matter: our family, friends and authentic fans.
We learn to reject negative ideas that others try to bring into our lives. We learn to prove them wrong. We learn to view ourselves as strong.
We learn to "reject the gift," as the Buddha did. We learn to stay true to ourselves.
by Paula Pant