In the post Where are we going Today, I went deep into talking about how to turn your anxiety around and use it as a suit of armor instead of breaking down to the demon. But there is more to it than that if you want to grow and not just start bashing everyone with your new-found voice. You have to deal with the criticism that goes along with it.
Everything in this world is a give take situation. If you are going to give out your opinion, you also have to be ready to respect others that have a valid but differing opinion or new information that you did not have. Doing this is difficult and was one of my worst enemies while dealing with anxiety. Everything hurt. I could not be wrong, even if I were, admitting it was even harder.
My reaction to all criticism before now was first to be hurt, then angry, then angrier, then shut down. This situation is one place where Fuck It does not work. Of course, you can say it, you can think about it, but eventually, you have to learn how to take that criticism and use it to your advantage. If you are dealing with anxiety problems similar to mine, you know that adrenaline rush you get even seeing someone reply to something you said. Then the hesitancy of going to look at the reply, then another adrenaline shot when the reply tells you something you did not want to hear. It is very tiring. But we do not have to be this way.
The first step is to filter out the bullshit. There will always be flamers and trolls, this is part of society’s problem, but something we must deal with because it is what it is and will never go away. So my first filter now is more or less if you bring nothing new to the conversation and you just make some kind of asshole comment, you are out, don’t matter, filtered to the shit pile. If you are a troll bringing some new information, but only enough to start an argument, my question to you will be, “Is that all you have?” generally, after that point, they turn into a flamer.
But if you bring an opinion or information that is useful to further the discussion, you are very welcome, come right in, have a seat, and discuss it all day. But at the same time, as the initiator of the conversation, I have to be open to that new information and not just by using the agree to disagree excuse. This statement is an excuse of frustration and non-compromise, which never works in any situation. In truth, it is an excuse used when you do not have the facts to back up your statements.
I have a prime example of this whole chain just from a Twitter conversation that happened just yesterday. Now keep in mind just six months ago, I would have never sent this tweet. I would have sat on the information and stewed until I was in an anxiety attack and getting nothing done.
The tweet spawned from some things I had read on Twitter about a change in the Elasticsearch licensing scheme. I have many projects based on Elasticsearch, so I took what I heard without doing the research and sent a rough edged tweet complaining about it. You can follow the whole train in the image below.
As you can see, I was more or less wrong. But instead of getting depressive and anxious about it and shutting down, I handled the situation in a way that benefited everyone. I had jumped to a conclusion through a lack of research. They had information that I did not. I researched the information provided and found out that it did not impact my projects in any way. So I was relieved at that. But at the same time, you have to give credit where it is due, so instead of just leaving the thread hanging, I replied, explaining what triggered the tweet and giving the credit where it was due. And I got three likes out of it. And it could help others in the future. Before this new charge, I would have left it hanging and might have went back to work on the projects, might not, depression and anxiety evolve in funny ways.
It is not that hard. Everyone is not out to get you. Others just have different viewpoints and information. The chances that the other viewpoints or information will match yours 100% every time are pretty slim. But by working together and sharing information, we make a bigger, better, stronger worldwide team.
The end message is, do not hesitate to use your voice, but be open to other viewpoints and new information. It will help us all in the end and put a nice polish on that armor you have been building as long as you have been dealing with anxiety.
–Be yourself, no one else can be you–