Recently, in my new mastermind, there was a person who shared how they haven’t found a healthy way to cope with haters. They asked how did the rest of us in the room overcome dealing with people who intentionally put them down? I spoke up to share, “Many successful people have these unfortunate experiences, but I learned something over the last few years—that snakes cannot touch you unless you let them.”

For those who have a public presence, be it in business or stardom—or usually both—haters come in many forms. Comments from virtual strangers on various social media feeds are to be expected, yet even with that, the hatred can become palpable.

When it originates from within your circle, however, it can become the kind of test that ushers you to unforeseen places. A while ago, I experienced a very disheartening situation, when I became the target of hatred from a woman I had viewed as a social friend over the years. Now, I cannot say I am without responsibility, as I had seen the warning signs as her behaviour become more belligerently pernicious towards me over time. Although I usually uphold healthy boundaries, I had displayed a lapse in judgment within this social relationship for what was at that time unresolved, unidentified and unconscious reasons.

It culminated in her striking a pivoting blow, laying on me an agenda that was emboldened with jealousy and entitled demands that she be granted access to my life, for the sole purpose of solidifying evidence for gossipers that my family life was truly as sound as I portrayed. She continued her cause by stating, I needed to change who I was, so she could feel better about herself. Baffled by this retort, I found myself at a precipice. One, I could finally tell her the truth about why I kept this relationship distant, or I could listen to see what she unravelled with her very vitriol-reflective statements. 

Apparently, my life and relationship with my soulmate did not depict what she felt she saw in her life, amongst the people in her circle or in her upbringing. She revealed that over the years she had felt unfulfilled by her current marriage, and due to her socialization growing up, dysfunction was all she saw. Trauma had left an energetic imprint on her being and does so on that of many women socialized like herself, feeling downtrodden and settling for unfilled lives and relationships. Then, she confessed she had never seen a woman with a shared similar background who was genuinely emotionally healthy and confident behind the scenes of her life. She made a choice to lash out at me, as my life circumstances and personal presence presented a paradox.

Over the years, as I have achieved my own success, I have found myself experiencing unwarranted attacks for being the very thing many women culturally associated with me want to experience—a black woman who is loved, whole living and vivaciously joyful.  The lesson I learned over the years is when people attempt to pry into your life, it’s usually due to their lives being unhappily a mess.

In this case, as the situation unfolded, she began confessing her deep-rooted insecurity, jealousy, and disdain, ultimately revealing, in one of life’s quintessential paradoxes, her resentment that she didn’t have my life.

Through this experience I became grounded in a previous value I was taught in my teenage years—the power of alignment. In the face of such blatant toxicity, I immediately released this relationship.

Make no mistake: emotional turmoil followed. I was hurt by the wasted time I invested in someone who intentionally hurt me without regard. I was astounded by how some people are completely riddled with cognitive dissonance and have neither the common sense nor the emotional intelligence to see they are overstepping someone else’s boundaries.

Over the next few months, I began to heal. Business-wise, my life transformed  radically once I relinquished this relationship. Healing will always be an ongoing process. It’s an ongoing process that takes time. And the lesson that I expressed at the beginning of this story, that haters can only touch you if you let them, is one that is still shaping my reality. Here’s the thing:

Her attacks went unnoticed as she mirrored an unresolved, unhealthy relationship that existed in my life at that time. By allowing her onslaught to erode my boundaries, I stalled my own evolution. It was the culprit that allowed me to continue investing in a one-sided and unhealthy relationship. Once I assumed full responsibility for the role I subconsciously portrayed by removing myself from any outstanding relationships that even reeked of similar circumstances, was when I began to fully heal. And by doing so, I was able to hold her separate from me, finally seeing the truth of what she was, a person who craved change yet chose to be stinted in the mire.

 We all make choices.

This distinction gave me the space to lovingly forgive her. As the months rolled by, eventually one morning in prayerful meditation, I felt compelled to send her an email. I hoped for no reply, nor was I expecting one.  I felt nudged to release any remaining discourse and shut the door with finality. In the email I thanked her for being a part of my journey and told her I could see clearly why our relationship was severed.

A few months later, I listened to a sermon by Pastor Keion Henderson. He shared insight about how snakes cannot pass the “snake-line” on a mountain, which is where the altitude is too high for them to survive. The snakes are forced to retreat back down the mountain due to the air quality. He followed up by stating, “climb so high, where snakes cannot go.”

I realized is this not the nature of alignment? To truly succeed, on our terms and in the truth of what we are each here to do, we must make our way up the mountain. Arriving in those unforeseen places, when the air quality becomes something we are not accustomed to, we are called to recalibrate and adapt, by aligning to the new ways of being we have no practice in, to achieve the things that exist only there.

It reinforced a quoted I furnished now found on the Janét Aizenstros Foundation website. It was inspired by this experience: “When you can see better, you can conceive better. You can perceive better, knowing you can be better… by showing the world you can do better.” This experience taught me that people can only do better when they can be and see better. If you are viewing life through a fractured lens, you can’t perceive better because don’t know what better looks like. You can only correct your view by rewiring your mind to see beyond your current environment and circumstances. We must be empathetic that some people cannot do better, because their minds simply cannot conceive better. Hence, why they cannot perceive better to be and do better in life.  

Those of us who have chosen to climb to higher heights must learn to accept that some people are just not meant to take the journey with us. Your haters will never be able to see you because in their reality they can’t even conceive nor perceive you.

Humbly, I found my way to doing better too. Since then, I’ve thrived in a way I never have before. Three weeks after I severed ties, the beautiful gift of divine clarity presented a map to creating another successful company. Like those who have come before, I acclimated, passing the snake-line by leaving behind my survival to become one with the flow of my higher purpose.


  • Janét Aizenstros

    Leadership Mentor, Ph.D EMBA

    Dr. Janét Aizenstros is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, the Top 10 Inspiring Women in Canada, 2019 Conscious Company Media’s Top 22 Business Leaders, a 2013-2014 YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction of Business and Entrepreneurs, a recent nominee for the 2019 EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women and the 2019 RBC Woman of Distinction Awards. She is also a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) and a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation.