I, like thousands of others, have recently watched the latest Brene Brown documentary on Netflix. And while doing so, this particular quote jumped out and hit me in the face!
“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”
I think she is referring to negative feedback – but I could be wrong. She may be referring to all types of feedback. Regardless, I could relate to it. I could feel the examples she gave of hurtful people throwing punches from outside of the arena where they are safe from ever truly wrestling with life themselves. I could relate to the feeling of confusion when someone can’t see that I am already fighting in the arena and I could be fighting for them, not against them – if they would let me. But, not everyone wants to be helped – remember that.
When I’m not interested in hearing negative feedback, I simply block the person. In fact, I was chatting with a friend today, and I shared with her that ‘blocking’ people on social media is sometimes necessary and the right thing to do. It’s not mean; it’s an element of personal survival sometimes. And to be fair, I’m certain that people have blocked me too. BUT, I believe the difference between my block and theirs is that I block hate, and they block the possibility of seeing themselves in my own PTSD. I know this to be true because people have told me this.
Being in the arena can take a lot out of you. I used to be in the paramedic arena, and now I’m in the political arena (not sure which is harder…lol) and I get metaphorical punches to the face from time to time. I actually mentally prepared myself for this if I were to win the election – which I did. Preparation came from knocking on all of the 5600 doors in my ward and speaking with my neighbours. Overall, people were wonderful! But I did have a few tell me that they hated my tattoos, (more so who told me they like them), and that they weren’t happy with one thing or the other to do with the City. I had to let these comments bounce off of me; so I did. And no matter what, I never stepped out of the arena even when the punches were coming at me non-stop. Furthermore, I have learned that I actually thrive in the arena, and I absolutely love being there.
I read every email I receive, and when they are riddled with anger, I can totally see that the individual needs their concerns validated and they ultimately need my help – so I give it. BUT, some people are not just angry, they are relentlessly mean. They punch from outside of the arena, but would never in a million years enter into it themselves. That’s where Brene’s quote comes in for me. If you throw suggestions and concerns into the arena; I will catch them and address them – that’s my job. But if you are spitting and lying and punching me with hate outside of the arena, I won’t continue to respond. I will use my energy to help those who require it and will fight for their needs.
I teach the necessity of ‘blocking’ to my kids, so why wouldn’t I practice what I preach? BUT, equally as important, I also teach them to send out love to the person they blocked; so that they don’t build a resentment towards them. That’s easier said than done when the people they/we block is/are a bully. “How am I supposed to send out love to a bully mom?” They have asked. “Slowly”. I reply.
You see, blocking someone on social media is a powerful demonstration of the boundaries you are absolutely allowed to set. And when I block toxic people, I am simply making room for amazing new people. I believe we teach people how to treat us. So, if I block you because you are relentlessly mean, I am teaching you that I will not stand for that and that I deserve happiness and positivity.
Don’t feel bad for setting boundaries. And remember to look around the arena from time to time to see that others are fighting too. Acknowledge them and thank them for being in the arena with you. The more fighters the better! That’s how positive change happens! And if you see a new person enter the arena because they have changed their perspective and want to be a fighter too, welcome them with open arms – even if they were one of the people on the outside throwing punches at one point – I have known this to have happened too.
To the people I have blocked: I have zero resentments towards you and I truly wish you happiness and wellness…from afar.