Why it is Easier to be Authentic Than Popular. ~ Michelle Marchildon

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Aug 13, 2013
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I listen to everyone who gives advice when I am being personally attacked and I want to say: thank you. I know it’s coming from your hearts.

However, most of those (with the best intentions, I’m guessing) have never actually been attacked on the internet or threatened in their homes.

Their children haven’t been dragged into it, and their integrity hasn’t been called into question. They haven’t been called un-yogic, or told they should die. They haven’t been told that their work sucks, or that they are terrible mothers. They haven’t been accused of physically attacking people, or hating old people, young people, black people and Lululemon people.

This stuff just isn’t true about me.

I’ve even had a stalker call my work-place and threaten my family. I notified the police, who in turn confiscated her electronics. That was the good news.

The bad news is she’s bought another computer and is back on the internet. Her problem is that she thinks I am not funny, which is ridiculous. I am incredibly funny.

I can’t be sure, of course, but I’m guessing this hasn’t happened to most of you.

Is this really our yoga community? I, for one, love gentle yoga. I take a yin class regularly, and in my home studio I often lie on the floor and sob. I think that counts.

But the yoga I’m experiencing lately has been anything but gentle.

My words are taken out of context and used to further the egos and careers of other writers and yogis. I do know that nasty comments are more about that person than me, but it still hurts and causes harm. To date, I have lost teaching opportunities, a cover story on a magazine, a column in the world’s biggest yoga magazine and more due to the outrageous crap written about me.

For example, even though I am 52, teach an older person’s yoga class and mentor teachers of all ages on how to teach older students safely and with respect, I am now accused of being “an enemy of aging.”

Um, I wouldn’t be an enemy of aging—the alternative is dying.

The people who write these things and the publishers who support them say that these comments and writings are “opinions,” and therefore protected by law. But I want to point out that the line is thin between opinion and defamation.

The advice I get is to get a thicker skin and not to back because it is un-yogic.

Here is what I should ignore, taken verbatim from actual comments on my blogs:

  • You are a terrible mother and I feel sorry for your children.
  • You call yourself a yogi? You should die.
  • You don’t want to teach old people? What’s next? Black people?
  • How could you hurt that poor, defenseless ballerina (who doesn’t exist, by the way)?
  • You are a racist and hate all people of color.
  • I know where you live, and where you work, and I am coming to get you.
  • Why do you want to ruin yoga? The elephant journal and everyone else needs to fire you.

That last one was from one of the most vehemently hated columns called, “What to Wear to a Yoga Conference.” Apparently, yogis have very strong opinions about their yoga pants.

I ignore 98% of what is written. Sometimes I call the police because writers are people too. And sometimes I try to set the record straight, but the truth travels slowly compared to a lie.

So here is what I won’t do: I won’t write those “I Heart Everyone” blogs and “Yoga is Love” just to get the sympathetic vote. This is what I know for sure:

It is easier to be authentic, than popular, because I can look at myself in the morning and like what I see.

My rant is finished. I’m going to get a vodka martini, shaken not stirred, and read the comments.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Cat Beekmans


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.


26 Responses to “Why it is Easier to be Authentic Than Popular. ~ Michelle Marchildon”

  1. Mommodan says:

    Don't ever read the comments!

  2. kimberlylowriter says:

    Wow. Wow. I am sorry you've had this abuse hurtled at you. I doubt 99% of these people who ever say these things to your face. However, don't take chances with stalkers. They are scary!

  3. occultfan says:

    I hope things get better for you.
    There's a strong argument for transparency on the internet.
    In public if you call someone out on the street, there can be several things that happen,
    one of which, you can record that person, upload it on the internet. You can call that person's
    place of work. Etc, so on. Thinking about it, perhaps, since the world is filled with societal expectations,
    and that we should be living from a paradigm where we take responsibility for our actions,
    all that which you say, even what I write here now, should be linked back to the people who said it.

    Those comments are so easy to fart out of the mouth, we are desensitized and say the most vile shit,
    on a whim, and then forget about it, only to see it here, (maybe I should apologize to my future kids for swearing,
    but odds are their Father is an open enough person that, it won't be anything even worth noting); And then,
    without a thought, after just blurting something out on a screen, or at some random passerby on the street,
    where your energy, their energy, it's not tied up in any repeated connection, you know, it's easier to shout at someone you'll never see again, right?

    That's a damage in our world. People can be thoughtless. What I'm saying is, you have the option, and some might say right, duty even, to hold these people accountable. Bring it to the public. Bring it to light. Be a good person, you know? Don't talk shit, train yourself to raise others up, I speak to myself and all humans when I say this.

    How is that even helpful? Logical? A measured response? 'Die'? Feh. It's easy to identify a cowardly act, but even that person who shoots off at the mouth needs forgiving. Perhaps first they have to march over a pit of coals of other people's scorn, first. Perhaps not. Do no harm? Is that one internet eye for another eye shuts the servers of the world down?

    Someone might tell me to die for such a terribly mixed metaphor. But, maybe there's a triumph in adversity. There are different ways to look at it. The long and short of it is, I hope you feel better. You seem, just from this one post, to be a good enough person. So, hang in there.

  4. kimberlylowriter says:

    Most 'Net bullies would never say what they say in public.

    It's sad that some people can only feel "big" when they are hiding behind their computer screen.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Yes. Stalkerism is serious, even if you are funny. It's scary stuff.

  6. occultfan says:

    We agree.
    What is to be done?
    Where there is a problem,
    there is a solution.

    One thing to do?
    Spend less time on the internets.
    Taking it less seriously, knowing this interpersonal dynamic issue, of which you write.
    Perhaps as we move forward, it is a good idea to interact with or take seriously only those people
    who will identify themselves in a manner which can be held to a social standard.

    If anyone wants to use this idea, it might help –

    Use a service which is voluntary to sign up for, which allows,
    like intensedebate, you to post on sites of your choice.
    Choose to only interact with registered users.
    More and more who register build momentum,
    and we see a rise in civility,
    and less drunk commenting,
    on le webs. 🙂

  7. Isabella says:

    My life over the last 11 years has been about authenticity. I applaud yours. I no longer care if I am liked or hated. Sometimes knowing that I am hated, most especially by members of my own family for my own life decisions that actually have very little to do with them, hurts but then I am reminded that other peoples' opinions of me are none of my business anyway.

    Let the haters hate!!

  8. Michelle Marchildon says:

    When someone crosses the line, I call the police and they are arrested or their stuff is confiscated. After that, I love everyone. Really I do.

  9. Michelle Marchidon says:

    I also want to say that Elephant Journal is now doing the responsible thing by monitoring comments and kicking people off the site who are crazy. So if you want to leave me more nasty comments and threats, be warned Elephant has woken up.

  10. Amy Cushing says:

    Continue to keep it real, Michelle. Many yogis, me included, appreciate your humor and welcomed honesty about the yoga world. The haters can't see past their own miserable outlook…it's such a horrible shame they take it out on you. Your honesty deserves much more respect. Whatever happened to up front, civil discussions?

  11. Marge Liebler says:

    Michelle…. I will always show up in your class and that makes me lucky.

  12. B. G. says:

    If you could exchange the word 'art' for 'yoga'- I had every bit of this. to such the extent, that thee FBI was called in, due to an angry artist, who resented my 'happy' art's popularity, who threatened to murder my clients & employees, in front of me, before polishing me off.. It goes ON & ON & ON… It crushed me & broke my heart, for years, on end & I STILL try to shake the stigma of being the most beloved- then, hated artist, Key West has ever seen. Yes. It is true. The VAST majority of it, was plain & simple jealousy, over what other people thought I had, that I didn't- mostly, money & a bit of notariety- There were lots of magazines & TV shows, etc.. I think, the best advice I could try to help you with is, after contacting the police on that fruitloop, again (because people who threaten ARE the one's who DO!), is do what FEELS good. As basic as it sounds, if you're feeling like this, something's got to change & you can't change them. So, your only option, is YOU- whatever that means to you. Maybe it's time to take a break or go to another venue, or stop reading what people say, or stop growing further notariety- That's what I've found to bring me the most peace. Ultimately, I was STILL striving & I now, know, the less I do that, the happier I'll be. I hope that helps you, too. Peace.

  13. joce2230 says:

    Michelle, this stranger to you thinks you're great!
    I love your voice, its real and it's yoga for the 21st Century because that is where most of us yogis live. We don't have the luxury of being up a mountain top to get enlightenment, we do it on the ground in our own particular war zone. The true yogis succeed here on the ground not up in the ether. Spiritual beings in a physical body.
    All I can say is that hurt people hurt people. Some hurt people learn not to.
    Kudos to you Michelle, God , Universe, Kali love you.

  14. yogaspace1 says:

    Wow…i am overwhelmed by the negative forces. Nevertheless, keep up the good work (of being your authentic self). Sending LOVE. =)

  15. Jeneen says:

    I think you are very funny. I think, sometimes, that people who spew ill-informed venom on the internet are funny, too (especially when they use poor grammar and spelling – that really gets me!). I don't think anyone who uses bully techniques, especially threats against one's life, are funny at all, and should be taken seriously, for sure. Everyone "out there" needs to lighten the heck up and enjoy life a little more. They also need to let the rest of us enjoy our lives a little more. If you don't like someone's blog or news article, DON'T READ IT!!!

  16. Sara H.S. says:

    It's interesting to me how with the option of remaining anonymous, people say things that they would never dream of saying to someone were the person in question being held accountable for their utterances. Wishing death on someone because they disagree with something that was said? Really? Who even does this? And don't get me started about the hypocrisy of the "Om shanti we're all in this together" crowd- yeah, we're all in this together, until someone says something that you view as personally offensive. For what it's worth, I find your writing to be a breath of fresh air in a world where there is a whole lot of pretense and false posturing (no pun intended). People that get sand in their private parts over what you've written need to check themselves and look at the real problem- which is not something you've written, but rather that something you've written has shined a light on a part of that person's being that they would rather ignore. I hope people relax and quite being jerks to you. Namaste, sister.

  17. imonlylurking says:

    Wow. Sounds like people are hearing what they want to hear, not what you are saying. That stalker woman sounds really scary-I bet she blames you for her visit from the police, too.

  18. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Ah. Thank you. I wrote my first book in the back of my car at soccer practice. I thought a lot about the other writers at Feathered Pipe in Montana.

  19. kimberlylowriter says:

    One thing I have noticed since I have been blogging is that people often project things or read things that aren't even there. I saw that in some recent pieces I have wrote.

    It's very interesting.

    I like to think I have a tough skin, but it is annoying to be accused of writing or saying things I never did.

  20. Cat says:

    Most people are LOUSY communicators! No matter what you say or write, they willfully misunderstand what you were trying to communicate.

    I understand this and have been the victim of attacks although not so publicly or quite so vehemently.

    Being Wiccan, I just do a protection spell. Always works. Really. My first one involved a woman I had to work with. She was the head of the department that I, as a quality systems analyst, had to deal with the most. She was jealous because, in spite of my efforts to train her on the system, she didn't get it. She bad mouthed me to my superiors and during a major upgrade project, she attempted to make my life miserable (I should mention that no one ELSE liked her, either, because she was difficult). I created a protection spell (without specifically naming her but stating the situation) and she was let go within two months. Recently, a woman I knew pretty well and sang in a group with, got some kind of bug up her ass when I and a couple of friends decided to do a concert (we are singers: opera, musical theater, etc.). She bad mouthed me to all my friends, made snarky comments about the concert, about my singing, etc. She also attempted to get another alto singer hired (I was the paid soprano section leader) at much more money. Going to the person in charge of the singing group did not work. Once again, I used a protection spell. Although she got the singer hired, it got the rest of us a raise AND the new singer ending up quitting within a month because she got a better offer. Fortunately, I haven't had to do this very often but it inevitably works!

    And before I forget, I love your articles! Just keep being . . well . . . YOU!

  21. Michelle Cassidy says:

    Michelle, I just read your list of comments you have gotten on your blogs. I don't know who wrote those but I know they are foolish people who obviously don't know you at all. It's too bad they have to threaten you and your family. Karma is a real bitch.
    I happen to think you are wonderful. Although I was not in your class this past Monday, I come every Monday because your class is a great way to start the week, and I appreciate the humor. I actually look forward to Monday's! And I'm not crazy!
    Keep being you and do what your heart tells you.

  22. amphibi1yogini says:

    I'm living proof of that. Even though I may have made comments about some flashy yogini who later redeemed herself on so many levels. I doubt I had anything to do with her epiphany, but who the hell knows?

    Intensedebate is a powerful tool for the maintenance of "a clean well-lit 24 hr access place", as is my nearly Gestapo-moderated blogsite … lol

  23. SophieB says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I've read many of your articles and I've enjoyed them all!

  24. Okay, I have to admit that I just finally read this already hugely popular piece—and it's fantastic.
    I'll also admit that I've been disappointed to discover (in my own experience with blogging; stressing my own experience) that my yoga-related blogs are nearly always the ones that can be expected to get these sorts of comments. So sad.
    Thanks for writing this! (And keep on being you.)

  25. Michelle Marchildon says:

    That makes me feel much better! Thank you.

  26. From Inner Sleeping to Inner Awakening says:

    Unfortunately characters that like to hurt others are just little kids in grown up bodies. They feel so low about themselves and inferior their get short term pleasure bullying others but little do they know they are only hurting them self in the process. It's like you drinking poison expecting the other to die. The ones who are posting these negative comments are cowards for one because they don't have the guts to do something that expresses talent in their life and two they feel empowered and brave to insult others hiding behind a computer screen. It takes courage to be who you are in spite of collective negativity. So keep on shining Sista! Eventually the light has to prevail!