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Not thick skin, a smart heart

Once in a while, I'll see an interview with a megastar athlete or actor and they will confess to being absolutely crushed by what are called "haters", those people who bomb social media or send direct messages with words and emoticons that would probably make a sailor blush.


I suppose that even "back in the day", fan mail included its share of negativity and destructive criticism. But with the ease of speedy posts and texts, the hurt can be hurled even before an actor has removed his wig or the athlete taken her shower. We all know that it's their choice to be on social media and to read them or not.


What I want to say is that the strong person realizes that being strong does not eliminate all emotion. It’s the regulation of emotion. For example, it's human to be scared or surprised, to be hurt or overjoyed.


What the strong person does, however, is work toward not being ruled by these emotions.


When you feel insulted or bitter, enraged or belittled, DO THE WORK! Find out the origin of these feelings and resist the urge to react. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg once explained,

My mother’s advice was, don’t lose time on useless emotions like anger, resentment, remorse, envy. Those, she said, will just sap time; they don’t get you where you want to be. One way I coped with times I was angry: I would sit down and practice the piano. I wasn’t very good at it, but it did distract me from whatever useless emotion I was feeling at the moment. Later, I did the same with the cello. I would be absorbed in the music, and the useless emotion faded away.

We are not automatons without emotion. When we are at our best, our knees don't even jerk! We are in control. Rather than thermometers that only report the temperature, we are thermostats that change the climate. We are more than merely a body at the whim of every feeling originating from the heart and brain.