I’ve gone through a long process healing my relationship with comments, and I want to describe it because I’m guessing it’s something others go through.
Fear and anticipation, approval and validation
When I first started blogging four years ago, I didn’t have online buddies, I didn’t have Twitter, and consequently I didn’t have any commenters for a long time.
Having a small number of comments made each one take on a bigger proportional meaning and value. I both desired and feared comments – and when I did get a comment, I would often dislike what the person said. Sometimes I felt like they just didn’t “get it”. I felt awkward absorbing praise from strangers. I didn’t quite believe I had any writing ability, so it was hard to hear praise and I felt hollow–like they didn’t really see me.
I struggled and felt deeply ambivalent about comments. I wrote a long preamble above my comment form, something like “I love comments but…please don’t diagnose me, try to fix my feelings, offer solutions as if I can’t think of them on my own….” and it went on. There were many forms of feedback I didn’t want or didn’t know what to do with or that would trigger me in various ways. I was writing about very vulnerable stuff and I wanted people to respect that; but in some ways what I was needing was more like a support group than a blog (more on that below under “unconscious reasons for blogging”).
I gradually realized that I was discouraging commenting at all. It took about two years for me to gradually trim that paragraph and then finally delete it. I don’t regret having it – it helped me at the time, even though I didn’t keep it–it created a zone of safety for me by discouraging comments that I couldn’t handle. It was a boundary, and boundaries are important.
When I started, I had a lot of unconscious expectations of readers. I wanted love, connection, and approval. I wanted my thought processes to be validated. I wanted blogging to cure all my confusion around my purpose and my value.
And like any relationship, unconscious expectations cause suffering in one way or another.
What are your unconscious reasons for blogging?
My journey around comments has also been a journey about my reasons for blogging and the needs I’m trying to meet.
As my unnamed expectations continued to be dashed, it gradually dawned on me that maybe I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Or rather, I was looking for consistent supportive creative feedback and connection in a medium that doesn’t necessarily provide that. Writing on a blog is a one-to-many relationship – and the many can be silent. It can be a bit like shouting in the desert.
By naming my needs and accepting that blogging wasn’t going to meet them, I was empowered to find strategies that would. I looked around and found creative outlets that did provide me reliable and consistent supportive feedback in a very safe space.
That clarity shifted the focus of blogging for me. Now, I don’t blog primarily to get connection or creative feedback. I do sometimes make connections, and I do often feel a creative connection with my readers, but these have become side effects.
Now I blog primarily to be in the creative flow of the ideas that want to be expressed and shared through me. That changes the focus and makes my experience much more consistent. I always have a good day writing, or if I don’t it’s because of something going on with me, not my readers. My feeling of “success” no longer depends on getting comments, or the right kind of comments. I’m here to be a channel for whatever creative impulses and collective wisdom comes down the chute in my brain, and that is enjoyable by itself. It’s no longer about meeting my unconscious needs, so I write with far fewer expectations.
And, because of how the Universe seems to work, I now seem to get a lot more readers who “get it”, and more comments in general. I think we attract (or project) people who push our comment buttons until we learn whatever we need to learn from them.
Now I see comments as appreciation – whether they “get it” the way I wanted them to or not, they still got something from reading and took the time to comment – and I appreciate that.
And yes, if nobody comments on a post sometimes I feel a little sad or disappointed or sometimes embarrassed. But it’s a minor feeling, it’s not this jackalfest of “Why bother writing?” or “Nobody loves me”. It just means that for whatever reason, what I wrote didn’t land for anyone in a way that had them wanting to comment. But eh, there will be more posts and more comments, and I’m just along for the ride. And many people read but don’t comment, and they could be getting stuff out of it that I have no idea about.
Thinking of creativity as something that you “channel” takes a lot of pressure off. It’s not me – it’s just what comes through me. All I have to do is be of service to that muse, and leave the rest up to it – and trust that if I had that impulse to write, someone somewhere is getting something from receiving it, even if they don’t speak up and say so.
Your relationship to comments is a reflection of your relationship to your creativity
When I was unsure of my creative worth, I was unsure of comments. Like all relationships, comments act as a mirror. There is a saying (I think from the Course in Miracles), “Love brings up anything unlike love”. Comments are, in essence, love – they are someone receiving your energy and giving back some of theirs. So consequently, they will bring up whatever is unhealed in you around creativity and connection.
I want to emphasize that this is a journey. There is no “right” way to be with comments – there are more and less “healed” ways to be perhaps, but you can only be wherever you are at with healing.