Kali Hawlk

Financial Writer & Digital Marketer

Why Negative People Love to Hate on Your Success

How many times have you read an online article written by an individual who shared an uncommon solution to a generic problem, explained a personal journey about how they conquered a challenge, or set out a future goal and the plan of action they would take to achieve it – only to scroll down to the comments to read some of the most hateful, misguided comments ever typed out by an angry Internet mob?

This is extremely common on any post published on a wider outlet that covers an aspect of personal finance. Now, I can understand that money and finance are touchy topics. Our society says it’s rude to talk about our money with others, and dishing details is downright taboo. But often, the personal finance articles written for major websites are meant to be inspiring, motivational, explanatory, educational – any number of good, positive things like this. Ultimately, almost all content on finance serves the same basic purpose: it tries to help other people.

People who like to leave comments, however, seem to think differently. It doesn’t seem to matter if the article is a story being related to us by the writer about something that happened to them or if it’s written specifically as a how-to guide for getting something done. If a personal finance blogger offers an unconventional way of doing things, this provokes an attack. If a personal finance blogger tries to help others find a silver lining in a tough situation, this provokes an attack. If a personal finance blogger suggests making a change that might be difficult at first, this often provokes a personal attack on the writer.

Why does this always seem to happen? The authors of these stories often speak from personal experience and are only sharing what they went through or discovered, and yet the hate around these articles that start out with a problem and end on a positive note or with a success is incredible.

The fact is some people simply want to be angry. They want to be upset with the world and they want to take it out on the world, too. It’s far easier this way. To look outward for the problem is much easier than the alternative: looking inward.

Negative People Don’t Want to Acknowledge They Have the Power to Make a Change

People who attack others who are hard-working and successful can’t see that they too have the potential to make incredible changes for the better in their own lives. From their perspective, they are the victim that needs to place blame or needs to strike back. Unfortunately, people who are hateful or rude to others who are attempting to show how they found success with a new budgeting technique, or a side hustle, or a way to save more money truly can’t see that it’s possible for themselves to have success, too.

It’s hard to see that you have the power to make a change when you’re in the trenches of a tough situation or have experienced a few hard knocks. It’s hard to understand what all you’re capable of when you’ve quit trying (or never tried, period). It’s hard to believe the people that are more successful weren’t somehow handed what they have on a silver platter; it’s much more satisfying to assume they were an overnight success and didn’t have to work in the same way everyone has to.

And it’s easy to assume people who have made a big change must have had help in some way. It’s easy to think, “oh, they were only able to do it because they had stuff – time, money, freedom – that I didn’t have because my life is harder,” even if this is completely false. It’s easier to sit and be mad, hateful, and negative about someone and their success than to get up, make a plan, take action, and create one’s own success.

Haters Gonna Hate

You’ll run into negative people offline, too. If you’re trying to find success with a financial goal or you’ve recently achieved a goal and are already successful, there is always going to be someone who is more than happy to hate on that achievement or your drive to work hard and make things happen.

This is because you’re going against the tide and doing your own thing – and honestly, that can make the folks who haven’t figured out they can do the same a little jealous. It’s not that you’re flaunting anything. Your happiness can be enough to set negative people off and encourage a wave of mean-spirited comments. Again, it’s easier to get mad about what someone else has accomplished than get crazy-motivated to do the same and find success on one’s own.

People might also hate on your plans, goals, and actions because you’re choosing a different path. That can be intimidating, even downright threatening, to people who are comfy with the traditional way of doing things. If you want to tackle early retirement, or a big savings goal, or get yourself out of debt once and for all, or strike out on your own as a solopreneur with an online business, you’re going to see a few haters along the way. You’re challenging their conventionally-held beliefs that say all these things are impossible, so it’s little wonder they don’t know how to be anything but negative when they see¬†you not only attempting these things, but really doing them, and succeeding to boot.

How to Handle Negativity

Understanding why people lash out and hate on success helps you understand how to deal with it when it happens. Knowing the internal feelings of someone else that might be causing their negativity makes it easier to avoid getting down or negative yourself.

It’s never fun, no matter what, when someone is negative about something that makes you happy, proud, or excited. But along with death and taxes, it’s a given in our society. Here are some more ideas on how to handle the haters:

  • Don’t engage. This is the simplest, most straightforward, and easy way to subtly say “no thanks,” to negative people. They can be all pouty, mopey, angry, etc etc all they want, but you are having no part of it. Offer a smile, shrug, and move on to better things.
  • Remember that personal attacks aren’t always so personal. Again, negative people can lash out, be critical, or downright mean because it’s simply the path of least resistance for those emotions. It’s much easier to be mad at the world than to look inward, find the problems there, then take appropriate action to reach a solution.
  • Be in charge of your own positivity. The easiest way to let negative people get to you is by putting too much value into their opinions and not enough into your own. You don’t need outside validation for everything you create, every goal you make, or every success you enjoy. If you need feedback, it’s best to get it from someone you know is honest – and happy with themselves, as well. This way, you can get any constructive criticism you may need, but without the bite of hatefulness that will come from someone only too eager to point out the weaknesses of others.

And if you find you’re the negative person? It’s okay. Honestly. But it’s time to understand that you are powerful, capable, and strong. Here’s how to focus on the positive and leave your negativity, hate, and anger behind:

  • Take action. You are in charge here. You can make the change you want to see in your own life. Yes, it may be hard – it may be really hard – and you might fail before you succeed. But keep at it! If Plan A didn’t work, think of a new approach and try Plan B. Believe in yourself and start putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Positivity is contagious! Catch a little for yourself by seeking out positive, driven, motivated, and inspired individuals. Be happy for them when they find success – and enjoy how good it feels when others are happy for you when you are successful.
  • Be grateful. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s wrong or bad in life. But you’re missing out on all the good that’s happening around you – it’s like you’ve got blinders on and you can only see the negatives. So take a moment every day to be grateful for what you do have, where you have been successful, and for what’s going right.

Have you found success – only to find haters, too? Where have negative people cropped up in your life, and how have your handled them? If you find that you’re the negative person, how are you working to change your mindset for the better?

53 Comments

  1. I think when people who don’t handle their money well come across those that do, they see where they are lacking and instead of seeing where they can improve from the example in front of them, they choose to turn their emotions to anger and resentment.

  2. Great post, Kali. I especially love your suggestions at the end, as I have the problem of sometimes falling into a glass-half-empty mentality. I have taken steps to try to phrase things more positively both out loud and in my mind, and one of the things that I did was to put an item on my daily to-do list called “Gratitudes.” Every day I take a moment to be grateful for at least three things, and I would agree that it has made a big difference in my mindset.

  3. I’m not a negative person per se but I do have a pessimist streak to me. With that being said, I also am a strong believer that we each have a choice each day to better our situation or to complain and keep the status quo. If you consistently choose to work towards a goal and better your life (and others) you can both reach your goals and be a happier person. As far as haters they are going to come out of the woodwork no matter what. I don’t allow ‘offensive’ comments on my site and I don’t engage negative comments that often.

    • True, DC – the haters are everywhere! I think declining to engage in negative comments too much is a smart move. If I have something positive or productive to say, I’ll go ahead and address it and close with something like, “thanks for sharing your opinion.”

  4. Like DC, I can sometimes come across with a little bit of a “glass half empty” mentality. I try to snap myself out of it. I try to focus on the positive as much as possible and ignore a lot of the bramble that comes in the form of outside comments.

    I am proud of my (life) accomplishments – without being cocky, I think – and I’m not going to think less of myself because someone else wants to try to take me down a peg. Easier said than done, and sometimes it gets to me… but if it does, I try to brush it off as quickly as I can.

    • I think there are always times where another person’s negativity will get to you – you can’t be impervious all the time. Just keep on being proud of yourself and happy with who and where you are!

  5. It’s amazing how self-defeating people can be. On some level I can understand. I will sometimes see the success that other people have with something that’s difficult to me and feel jealously that it appears to come so easy to them. Of course what I’ve learned is that there’s almost nothing that comes easy to anyone. You make the life you want through a vision and plain old hard work to make it happen. No hard work, no success. Simple as that. So if you choose to spend your time complaining about all the reasons you can’t find success, then you won’t find it. But if you decide instead to just start making small steps forward, you really can do just about anything.

    • Excellent comment Matt; thanks for sharing today. I could not have summed up my feelings on this any better. I agree with you – sometimes I see someone successful and I do feel a little jealous. But then I remember that just because that person makes it look easy and effortless, they undoubtedly had to work just as hard (if not harder) that I am, too. Choosing to be positive, productive, and forward thinking will always get you more places than complaints and negativity.

  6. I am now avoiding the comments section of the major media outlets :)

    If you can’t express a differing opinion in a respectful and compelling way, then you’re just making noise.

  7. I feel sorry for negative minded people because their poor attitudes are self-fulfilling prophecies and they refuse to see that they are in control of their happiness and success. I make a conscious effort to keep negative energy out of my space. Life is too short to be concerned about it when it is so much more rewarding to be around positivity.

  8. Man I’ve seen those ugly comments on the more widely known sites like Get Rich Slowly. I must admit I wold be intimidated to write for any of those sites, and I think it’s brave when people do. It’s one thing to constructively write a varying opinion different than the author’s, or another commenter, but you’re right in that people are downright ugly, and you can feel that it stems for a dislike of themselves really. In a sort of related note, I was watching the doc that was produced about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding and it being 20 years. If you ask me, BOTH played victims, and in some way still kind of are, although Tonya is much more bitter sounding. I know people like her in real life, and they never get where their anger and bitterness stems from…the continue to blame other people for their unhappiness.

    • I agree that comments that simply disagree are totally okay. As long as you can coherently express your thoughts without attacking the writer, I don’t see a problem with dissenting comments. There’s nothing wrong with having a different opinion, but many people could be a little more mindful about how they express it.

      I watched that documentary too and thought the same thing! They are both extremely defensive in their own way and both are happy to fall into the role of victim and play that role hard.

  9. Ooo, I can’t even read comments on these types of articles, they make me so mad! It is such a victim mentality — why do people assume everyone writing these articles was given every advantage in life? Maybe they just seized opportunities and worked really hard! I truly wish these people would get out of their own way and be happy enough to not tear others down.

    • Hit the nail on the head, Erin. I think the reason people might assume that is because some folks make things look easy – even when they’ve worked so hard to get where they are, to the outside world it looked like an effortless rise to success. And the outside world often doesn’t like that, since we tend to like our success stories to include a whole lot of obstacle-overcoming.

  10. I’ve seen the comment on GRS and Yahoo Finance and they are just awful and mean spirited. I’d be intimidated to write for them, too. I was talking to someone recently who said something brilliant: “I make my haters, my motivators” !!!

    • HuffPo is the same way. The first time I wrote an article and it was published there, I was more confused than upset at all the angry comments. Thankfully some of them are so outrageous – I can just see these people spitting with rage like a hissing cat! – that the writers can just laugh it off. It’s so sad, because it’s such a waste of energy to be that negative and mean to someone you don’t even know. Imagine how much those people could accomplish if they channeled all that energy in a different, more productive way.

  11. Although I am somewhat of a pessimist /negative thinker, I don’t go around hating people and their successes. Yes, I am a bit jealous (but that’s just human nature), but I am also inspired by them and it makes me want to work harder/be more disciplined.

    It’s weird how some people enjoy hating on others. They do it for sheer pleasure.

    • Sure, I think it’s only natural to feel a tinge of jealousy. But the key is to turn that jealousy into motivation; to see someone successful and say, “that’s where I want to be and where I CAN be if I keep working at it!” And I agree – I think some people just enjoy being vicious for some reason. It’s sad.

    • I get jealous a bit too! It’s just being human. But I don’t hate. No point in hating. I’m inspired by their stories and want to do awesome too.

  12. Love this post. Sometimes I read articles purely for the comments because of all of the trolling that is done. People are ridiculous and they will make any excuse for why the solution cannot be applied to their situation.

  13. I remember a quote from several years ago that I heard and remembered – “Hurt people hurt people.” If someone is scarred from past events, going through something rough in their lives, etc they are more likely to lash out. It’s sad, but true.

    • Great quote to keep in mind, and I agree – sad but true. People lash out when they feel victimized, pushed into a corner, or suffering from some other kind of internal struggle or pain. It’s important to keep that in mind when dealing with someone hateful and negative. It’s likely not you that’s causing the reaction.

  14. We get so comfy here in the PF world, where mostly everyone is really supportive, that it’s quite a shock when we venture to the major media outlets and find disagreement and contention. We all understand each other here – the motivation to get out of debt and live our lives freely – but there are so many others that can’t see past the traditional ways of doing it, and they choose to be stubborn and live their lives out miserably. It’s unfortunate, as there are so many articles out there on how the common person can achieve the same success. There’s no secret formula. When given the chance, I think many people are more likely to choose the “easy” path rather than the one less traveled, and they are ignorant to the efforts it takes to achieve success.

    • Great point, E.M. – thanks for such a thoughtful comment. You’re exactly right, there’s no secret formula. Just a willingness to work hard and dedicate yourself to making something happen, to making a change.

  15. Those nasty comments are so uncalled for really. I like your solution of not engaging both online and in person. I believe a lot of those negative people are looking for attention and they just want a reaction from you.

    • I think you’re spot-on, in that negative folks want attention and/or a reaction. If only they would channel that kind of energy into something more productive and useful! They’d get so much farther than wasting time bashing other people in hopes of getting a rise out of them.

  16. All the negative-minded folks leave these kinds of comments to see a reaction from you. They love to see a negative reaction.

    Don’t give it to them. Answer them firmly and still contain your point of view in your reaction. Your reaction needs to be calm and positive at the same time.

    If they continue to spew negative crap to you, then they’re not worth your precious time and should leave them alone forever.

    Thanks for the post!

    – Samuel

  17. I can tend to take things too personally so writing for these larger outlets seems a little scary. Negative comments are really uncalled for. There’s a difference between being constructive and just being rude. Some people are just so set in their ways and can’t handle different perspectives.

    • I totally understand. I think not taking things personally is like just about anything else – it’s really a matter of practice. The more you write and produce, the more exposure you’ll get and inevitably that means more snarky, nasty comments. If you continue writing, you’ll find that half those negative comments seemed to totally miss the point of the article or lacked some reading comprehension, and most of the other half are simply being willfully mean and hateful. Once you can see that, it’s a little easier to shrug off because it’s so obvious that it’s something that personal is struggling with internally, but dealing with externally.

  18. I’ve had lots of negative people in my life and I usually just try to turn it into inspiration to work harder and be better. It’s hard to not let it affect you/take it personally sometimes but I figure if someone is constantly saying terrible things to or about you it’s usually one of two things 1) they have way to much time on their hands or 2) they want to see you fail. Neither of which are okay so it’s best to just ignore!

  19. As always, thank you for such a thoughtful post Kali. I know if I were to write this kind of post I wouldn’t be so nice. :P Unfortunately, the only time I really encounter negative people is through blogging but people are bound to be judgmental about a Girl who used to be a former shopaholic and how she spends her money right? :P Hateful comments use to really hurt but now I think, hate all you want but you are still reading me so I must be doing something right, right? ;)

    • Thanks girl! The internet is definitely a breeding ground for negativity, unfortunately. But I think all the awesome people that the blogosphere fosters helps to make up for it! And I like your way of looking at it – you’re totally right! You can waste your time leaving hateful comments if you want, but I must be on the right track if you took the time and effort to read something I wrote and respond to it :D

  20. I have always loved the Albert Einstein quote
    “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

    I don’t consider myself to be a great spirit but I have always taken solace from this quote when people attack me for choosing a path that may not be the norm.

    In terms of personal finance some need to attack because if they don’t then they have to admit they are responsible for their own situation.

    • Love the quote, Scott – thanks for sharing! And I think you’re right, in that so many folks lash out because it’s better than the alternative, which is to admit that they do have some degree of responsibility and control over their situations.

  21. I’m glad you wrote on this subject, Kali. I think emotions get the better of people when they hear of something really out of the norm financially: the ultra rich doing, well, anything, the student who pays off six figures of student loan debt in her twenties, the mom who supports her family with the blog. I mean, we’re all emotional beings: we all are subject to feel jealousy and envy, which I think drive the reactions you’re talking about.

    I really enjoyed your insight about people not wanting to admit they have the power to make a change. Successful people who come from similar circumstances provide that reminder, and it’s uncomfortable: it’s a real life example of how, hey, I could have done that, too. And that can be uncomfortable.

    • As always, thanks for the thoughtful comment – love the point you made that we’re so driven by emotion, which is part of the reason why successful people from all walks are subject to some hate from somewhere. It’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling when you’re confronted with someone who did successfully make the kind of change you feel you need to make, and I think people tend to get defensive before they start thinking about how they can make their own success, too.

  22. Very thoughtful post Kali! I always have to laugh when I read the comments on the bigger national sites. Some people, for some odd reason, seem to just get off by being as hateful and jacked as they can imagine. I think a valid disagreement is one thing, but hate is something else. As someone who is more of a realist (or pessimist if you ask my wife ;) ) it can be a challenge at times for me not to say something negative – I’ve just defaulted to if it isn’t going to be a productive part of the discussion then I look for something positive to say. That said, there are enough things going on to get upset about someone offering advice on how they were able to solve a PF issue. :)

    • Thanks, John! I agree, a valid difference of opinion is totally fine and always welcome – it adds a good dynamic to the conversation. Being challenged is not a bad thing! But the hate is totally unnecessary. Love what you said at the end there, it’s so true! There is so much else to get worked up about than someone else’s well-intentioned advice!

  23. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there are many forces out there encouraging the hatred/envy of success. That and overweight people are the last two areas where people can hate, discriminate etc. without being condemned themselves. The whole wealth redistribution talk certainly buys into the idea that the successful have somehow stolen something from the less successful.

    • I think you have a good point, Kathy. I think many people believe it’s okay to hate on successful people because of their success – somehow, it seems like the thinking goes, “well they obviously have everything they want and everything worked out for them, so they’re fair game,” and people take out that negativity on successful people because they feel it’s more acceptable than taking it out on someone who’s down on their luck.

  24. Love your strategies with how to handle negative people – I tend to also cut it off right away, or steer clear of negativity. Sometimes it’s more challenging with real life situations, but I do my best to help them see the positive side of things. It doesn’t always work, but I think some people are just gonna be how they’re going to be, and I have to just accept that… and move on! There’s too many positive and cheerful people to surround myself with, and that energy is way better and motivating.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself! I like that you do try and help people see the positive or the good – but you’re right, some people just don’t want to see that at all and won’t respond to positivity.

  25. I love your be in charge of your own positivity point! It can be enraging in the moment, but certainly don’t engage (like you said) and just realize that some people are mean, spiteful human beings who simply aren’t worth your second thought. I stopped reading comments on my DailyFinance articles because not only are they usually people trolling, but they’re often completely off topic and have nothing to do with the point I’m making in the article!

    • I’ve noticed the same thing! Half the negative or hateful comments on articles on major media outlets like AOL are totally out of left field or not even relevant. Those are the people I feel like just want to be angry about something so badly that even when there’s nothing to be angry about, they’ll just make something up or willfully twist what was said in the article to get mad about it. I don’t get it myself, but then again, I never saw the fun in trolling either!

  26. Hi Kali….I just popped over to your site from the Financially Blonde site and had to comment. You are so right that many negative people can’t seem to help themselves no matter how brilliant an article comes across. The first time it happened to me I wasn’t smart enough to know that it’s best NOT to engage so I attempted to “reason with them!” Ha! That was definitely not the thing to do. Like you say it really wasn’t personal to me at all—and that’s when I took my own power back. Since then I’ve started seeing such attacks as a measure of success. After all, if everyone agrees with you then you aren’t reaching as many people. AND if you don’t sometimes write things that ruffle a few feathers you are not out on the cutting edge. Thank you for your great reminders. ~Kathy

    • Hi Kathy! Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a thoughtful comment. You’re absolutely right, trying to “reason” with negative folks is an approach that will only end in frustration, no matter how good your intentions were! I like that you pointed out that if everyone is in agreement with you, your audience isn’t as wide as one that’s gathering both positive and negative attention – and that one good thing about those ruffled feathers is that it’s a sign you’re talking about something that matters or is a different way of looking at the world!

  27. First of all – love that picture of the girls with the stank face on! Haha so perfect for this article.

    You’re right – haterz gon’ hate! No matter what, there will be people judging and clowning on your every move. Practicing gratitude is a great and effective way to not let them haterz get to you.

    Not sure who originally said this, but every time this subject comes up, I can’t help but think of this quote: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

    • Haha, thanks – the picture made me laugh when I found it! And that is a wonderful quote, partly because it’s so very true. It’s from Dr. Seuss!

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