When the Hate Hits the Fan

If it hasn’t yet, it’s bound to happen to you, too.

You’ll open your eyes one morning and it’ll be there. From your shoulders, down to your thighs to your shins and your toes. The testimony to your last conditioning or sparring session. The physical token of your obsession. That sweet Muay Thai pain.

More likely than not, you’ll think nothing of it. Stretch it out, shake it off, go about your day and train once more as soon as you can get your ass to the gym. But more likely than not, you’re also bound to hear someone, somewhere tell you that maybe you could take it easy this time. That you look a little tired from all that training, that maybe you should skip the gym for a couple of days.

While some of these people might be genuinely concerned with your well-being, very often these seemingly caring remarks are uttered by a specific breed of a person. Ladies and gents, meet the hater.

The hater takes on different forms. It’s that “friend” who calls you a pussy for not drinking at happy hour, it’s your girlfriend who scarfs down chili cheese fries in your face while you’re on a weight cut, it’s that colleague who scoffs at you because you turned down his Friday morning donuts.

And ladies, take note, if you’re a woman, you better brace yourself, ’cause these fuckers will be coming left and right, as men and women will start telling you you’re getting too muscular, that fighting or combat sports is not for girls, that it’ll mess up your pretty little face and God knows what other kind of cliched bullshit only the stupidest people can come up with.

You can try to justify yourself to the haters until your tongue bleeds. But it simply is a useless feat. You see, the minute you’ll start giving a fuck about something, someone is going to give you flack for it. It’s like the saying goes, “People will want to see you do good, but never better than them,” because for some reason unbeknownst to me, people generally don’t like seeing their fellow human shine.

But you have to say the hell with them. You have to just simply rise above. Turn around and eat your shit sandwich.

The shit sandwich

If you decided to train hard, chances are you know all too well by now that it comes with a slew of sacrifices, or what Mark Manson (author and personal development consultant) likes to call the shit sandwich. The shit sandwich basically is what you voluntarily choose to give up or struggle with in order to attain your goals. It’s the shit you figuratively choose to eat to better your craft.

And love her or hate her, no one describes the shit sandwich better than Miss Rousey in her book My fight your fight when she says, “People love the idea of winning a gold medal or a world title … but people focus on the wrong thing … it’s the process … it’s the sacrifices that must fulfill you.” Otherwise, why are you showing up at all?

So take a step back and look long and hard at the hater and ask yourself, who the fuck died and made them CEO of all things you? What did they accomplish, aside from instilling self-doubt in someone they supposedly love or oftentimes don’t even know? (I’m looking at you, internet trolls.) What have they achieved that confers them the authority to decide anything that remotely pertains to your goals?

They’re not the ones clocking in that sixth or seventh workout when they’re down and out or sick? They don’t know about the pride that comes with building a better self. They haven’t got a clue about the mental toughness it takes to head out for some roadwork when everybody’s asleep. They’re not the ones eating your shit sandwich, so why should they have a say in what kind of flavor it should have?

Every time, every time you come across a spiteful remark, a nasty look, a not so hidden smirk, think of that shit as goal fuel. Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Instead, do better. Much better. Become so engulfed in your own success and working hard that you forget it ever happened.

And forget, you must. Because everything we are, everything we do is the result of our thoughts or, scientifically put, the neuro-circuits we run in our brain. And these neuro-circuits strengthen themselves the more we run them—through what are called synaptic connections—that is basically why practice makes perfect. So be mindful of what you’re mindful of.

‘Cause if the circuits you’re constantly running are related to the hate you’ve been receiving—how the haters could be right, how you should’ve responded to them, what you should’ve done when they despised or belittled you, guess what you’ll become an expert on? Sure as hell won’t be your roundhouse kick.

Now that is not to say you should never practice self-doubt and act like your shit don’t stink. There’s almost always a lesson to take away from criticism. I’m just saying there are other fights you’ll have to show up to when you decide to live your life with purpose and live your passion. And “determining how much [you’ll] allow others to [meddle with] issues such as what [you] do”1 is one of them. And even if that one doesn’t leave your toes, your shins, your thighs or your shoulders aching from some sort of exquisite pain, it’ll still be, nonetheless, one hell of a battle.

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