You know who you are. You’re the kids who bullied that poor bus driver until she cried. You’re the ones who tortured and killed Matthew Shepard because he was gay. You’re the cliques in high school who band together to make fun of the girls who aren’t as pretty as you are.  You’re the society women committed to ruining the lives of those who refuse to follow your stupid, fear-driven rules.  You’re the guys at work who steal other people’s ideas and fail to give credit where credit is due.

You’re the assholes who stiff hard-working waitresses after you’ve made their lives miserable during your whole meal because you’re delusional enough to think you’re better than they are.  You’re the doctors who abuse your power and treat your medical students like they’re gum on your shoe.  You’re the unscrupulous people like Bernie Madoff, who run off with other people’s hard-earned money because of your own greed.  You’re Osama bin Laden and everyone else in Al Qaeda.

You’re the parents who abuse your kids. You’re the men who rape women. You’re the crooks and murderers and corporate thieves in white collars.

You know who you are, and I have a few things I want to say to you.

You Did Something Mean, But You’re Still Valuable

I know it’s a slippery slope, and when you’ve done your first mean thing, it’s easier and easier to keep being mean because you feel like a total loser as a result of what you’ve done. Because you have trouble forgiving yourself, you just keep hurting others.  Because you’re mean to others, you’re also mean to yourself.

I know you know that what you’re doing is out of alignment with the integrity of your highest self, that part of you that is a little slice of divinity, that Inner Pilot Light that never flickers out, even though it grows dim in the darkness of your mean self.

I know part of you wants to stop being mean, because we all have compassion and kindness within us. We sometimes just lose our way, and when we get so lost, it’s hard to find our way back home. But I want you to know that home is always within you, forgiveness is always possible, and it’s never too late to stop being mean and start being kind.

Even though you did something mean, I want you to know that you’re still valuable, that you’re worthy of love and tenderness and compassion. No matter how horrible your deed, you don’t have to flog yourself for the rest of your life. You only have to do what you can to right your wrongs, ask for forgiveness from those you’ve hurt, and most of all, forgive yourself.

Don’t Keep Pushing “Repeat”

You are a precious child of Divine Light, with that spark of divinity within dying to brighten its radiance. The world needs more light and love, and you can be part of the illumination of the world, if only you make the conscious choice to stop being mean and start spreading love in the world.

I know you screwed up. I’m not judging you for it. I’m forgiving you for it, because everyone deserves grace and a second chance. But can you receive it? Can you let anyone love you? Or are you so locked down because of what you’ve done that you can’t let light in?

Please, don’t keep pushing “Repeat.” Just because you were once mean doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. Trust me. Kindness feels so much better. I know the transition will be hard. Other mean people will try to keep you down. Some aren’t so willing to forgive. Grudges are held. Those you’ve tormented may want revenge.  You may even wind up in jail. But even in prison, kindness can blossom, and you can heal.

Forgive Those Who Were Mean To You

I don’t blame you for being so mean. I know others were probably mean to you. You may have had meanness modeled for you most of your life. You probably don’t feel as loved as you should. And everyone is deserving of love and affection, especially you.

You may hold grudges of your own, and in carrying your anger and resentment around like badges, you perpetuate the wounding done to you. You hurt others as you were hurt. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is another way. You can forgive those who hurt you and stop inflicting more wounds on an already wounded world. It’s up to you. All you have to do is let the light shine through you. It’s there. I promise, and it’s yours to shine forth.

One Act of Kindness

If you’re ready to stop being mean, start by practicing one simple act of kindness. Choose one thing you can do today. Pay someone’s toll. Buy someone’s lunch.  Give flowers to a stranger. Write a letter of forgiveness. Volunteer for a charity. Do something kind.

The next day, do one more kind thing. And then another. Pair that with doing one less mean thing. Cut back. Then forgive yourself again.  Treat yourself like the gifted child you are in your heart.  Forgive the hurting child in you, and you will free yourself, one baby step at a time.

Until then, know that you are lovable, valuable, and worthy. You are precious, special, and deserving. Joy can be yours. You can belong. Anything is possible.

I believe in you,

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  1. eyenie

    YES Lissa!!!!!!!!!!!! This really got me, and it got me GOOD! Here’s to stopping that yucky cycle of mean! Here’s to grabbing your “cojones” and easing your way into doing nice things… Kudos for this kick-ass post! THANK YOU!

  2. Eileen Smith

    Oh my gosh Lissa…I love you!!!!!!

    Thank you so much for this. Few people will step up and tell it like it is. Take the hard line. You do. I admire that.

    I always admire the courage of true champions of conscious living, and not the fluff and airy fairy people who won’t speak up for our world so they don’t offend the they can make that sale.

    I think we are at a place and time where we cannot afford anything less than that. If people are going to be true teachers and healers, and talk about working in the light, you must take a stand for the light. All of us evolving, the planet, all of creation. Anything less is just smoke and mirrors then, IMHO.

    Your awesomesauce. Totally reblogging and sharing this.

  3. Jean-Pierre Ruiz

    Bravo! I would just add that, if they look deep inside, they will know that the Universe does not judge and that Spirit, Love, Consciousness, God, Buddha, by whatever name you call upon it, loves them unconditionally. When they return to Source they will not be judge. They will examine their lives for the lessons learned without judgment of good or bad, without regrets or sorrows. They are loved and need not be forgiven by Source. We thank them for teaching us to forgive and love without judgment and allow us to make a different choice.

  4. theresa

    Lissa, thank you. I started reading and thought ‘Yes all you mean people out there!’ by the end I realized I was judging them, I was not forgiving them, I was not being nice. Thank you for reminding me (all of us?) to forgive (not approve of) the meaness and to keep looking for my inner pilot light so I can respond to these situations with love in my heart, not judgement. My mantra is ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ I need to keep working on that, my inner pilot light burns a little brighter each day as I read your Daily Flame and when I read blogs like this one. Thank you- shining a little brighter with your help and inspiration 🙂

  5. Jan

    Thank you Lisa! I am going to share this post with my children, 8, 10 & 12, who seem to do nothing but make each other’s lives miserable. I have been trying to get them to be KIND to each other but nothing seems to work. The 8 yr old is the only girl and is very spoiled and doesn’t seem to get disciplined as much as the boys, who do take notice. Their attitude towards her is, on one level, understandibly crappy! I am trying to teach them the more they meet her attitude with their attitude the more nothing will change and our family will suffer. I have asked my 12 yr old to step up to the plate and be the one that changes how they view things. Anyway, I think your post will help them see and understand that doing good deeds and being kind will always make us feel better in the long run. Keeping the attitude that “we” always get in trouble and “she” doesn’t and spilling that attitude over to the negative pile will only make the negative grow larger. Every one of us needs to be forgiving and kind.

  6. Karen Palmer

    Dear Lissa,
    I so get this blog it is very true and I talk about the light that can never be extinguished in my book life is about reaching out to each other not putting each other down. As we build people up we feel better too. I know it can be hard not to repeat patterns but when you break the cycle and really remember WHO you are. There will be no desire to hurt others because we will know we are all One. Thank you for this great reminder. Bless you. I hope you will help me share my message of hope by checking out the book I published. I will be donating proceeds to animal rescue organizations and environmental education. Bless you and Thank you for helping to make the world a little better and a little brighter.

  7. Luxurious Laurie

    I only hope that this blog will somehow reach the mean people…since I’m sure they aren’t the ones who subscribe.

  8. Marie

    I am a victim of domestic violence. I needed to read something like this. I’ve forgiven but still hold onto everything I went through, so I guess I haven’t totally forgiven but the person that did me wrong clearly suffered being bulled when they were young and carried that anger with them. Thanks for having the courage to write about it and help us see beyond the hatred they have and help us to see that they are human also. All I can say is people who bully and hurt others, hurt not only the victim, but the victim’s family. They must acknowledge their mistakes, ask for forgiveness and truly show in some way or another that they are a changed person. They not only need to forgive themselves but they must love themselves as well and that they have been regenerated – they’ve renewed their minds, hearts, feelings, and self control in a positive way as the article states.

  9. Allison Carr

    Lissa! I was on your wave-length today! I just published this article today about how we unknowingly attract bullies into our lives, and my own journey standing up for myself.
    So glad you brought the perspective of holding the bully in loving compassion. Its the only way this world is going to change.
    Thanks for being who you are and putting it out there!

  10. Debbie


    I love this post! As someone who has always struggled with confronting bullies and setting proper boundaries with these types of people for fear of not being liked or accepted (how silly), these words have helped give me a new perspective.

    We often forget that, “hurting people hurt others” and want to lash out or hold onto anger and resentment. If those of us that have been the victims of bullying realize where these behaviors are coming from, it may help us heal and understand what we can do to avoid perpetuating pain and move towards compassion.

  11. Lissa Rankin, MD

    I’m so glad this post resonated with you all. And yes, it’s so easy, when people are being mean to us, to instantly jump to defensiveness and anger. When I’m honest with myself, my genuine response when someone is being mean is to feel hurt- sad, not angry. But in order to actually feel the sad, to skip the knee jerk response straight to anger, leaves me vulnerable and feeling “weak.” I think it is this fear of being vulnerable to more meanness that leads us to engage in the “mean” behavior, feeling tempted to be mean back, just as a defense.

    What if, instead of allowing ourselves to get mean as a way to protect our vulnerable sadness and hurt, we just learn how to protect our sweet spirits in these settings by setting appropriate boundaries around mean people? The goal is not to shut down, get angry, or become mean ourselves. It’s to allow ourselves to experience the hurt we feel, while making it clear to the mean people that such behavior is not okay with us. It’s really about loving and accepting yourself enough to stand up and say STOP, I deserve better than this…Unless there’s a gun involved, of course (I say, speaking from experience). Then you do whatever the hell it takes to keep from getting shot so you can heal from the trauma afterwards…

  12. Marsha

    I love this, it gives hope to the most hopeless of our society… the ones who hate.

  13. Tree

    You have, once again, expressed one of the deepest truths and convictions of my heart. Perfect!
    We are all so worthy NO MATTER WHAT WE HAVE DONE OR THOUGHT.
    no exceptions.

  14. Briar Bentley

    Very powerful Lisa, I am working on a program right now about bullying and youth suicide.The concentration is on moving on from the “blame-game” and towards “celebrating life”, both from the oppressor and the opressed points of view.

    Self-worth encompasses the whole concept.

  15. Kay


    This post really spoke to me. I have been the recipient of some extremely mean behavior in the past, which has made me a bit gun-shy in certain settings. However, I’ve always been a fan of understanding the psychology behind a situation or person’s actions and I have realized that more often than not, there is deep pain, confusion or desperation behind the mean actions of others. When I fully grasped that and understood that they were just acting out the cumulative impact of their life experiences, I could detach myself emotionally from the experiences, and they had much less of an ability to hurt. Now, if anything I feel sorry for the individual and can look past the behavior to the pain that they are projecting. I definitely agree that if given the space and love, most people can conquer their mean tendencies. Thanks for broaching this much needed (and often avoided) subject.

  16. Eileen

    Thank you for this timely reminder. When I see ‘mean’ people I try to remember that it is really a call for LOVE and that others are either extending Love or giving a call for Love. I know in my heart that ‘mean’ people are actually hurting themselves as their ‘prickles’ keeps Love away and we need Love and acceptance. To go deeply metaphysical ‘mean’ people are actually a part of myself that is calling for Love! Why would I not offer loving forgiveness to myself? Love does not condemn therefore Love does not need to forgive because it does not even judge. My brother/sister is my savior and offers me a way home to my own heart – we are all ONE heart .

  17. Michelle Medina

    The only people you forgot were serial killers Lissa. . .
    I’m not saying that as a snide comment. Honestly, the very fact you wrote this letter is a credit to you for as much as I love people, I don’t love rapists, murderers or child molesters *another group you didn’t mention*. I truly believe some things are in fact to horriffic and aren’t worth forgiving. Then there are the psychopaths who don’t feel anything anyway corrporate america anyone? and so they’ll accept love with one hand while stabbing you in the back with the other.
    No matter though, I think this letter is an impressive piece for all of us to learn from.
    Thank you!

  18. Deb

    I had a hard time getting past the wording, “You are the assholes…”
    I was so shocked to read this that I almost unsubscribed.
    This kind of language reflects the harsh judgment we are wanting to end!

    We are the energy we put out…
    sure, feels good to call mean people names,
    but if we were to truly do that to anyone who is “mean”…we are indeed also being “mean” and would only provoke a retaliatory response. Violent language brings violent results.
    Leave this out and it was a great message.

  19. Trish rankin

    You constantly amaze me with the wisdom you have acquired at such a young age. Some say we are not recognized as great in whatever we do in our own families but I am here to prove that is not true in your case. I stand amazed at you my sweet!

  20. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Ah shucks. Thank you Mom. You know how much I credit you for any goodness I’ve created in the world… I am amazed by you too!

    Love you to pieces,

  21. ElizOF

    Touching post Lissa… I wish all mean people will read this but I bet they’re too busy being evil. Oh well, thank God for Karma. 😉


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