This past week, I have never seen such harshness, anger, nastiness or vitriol in my entire life. It was not just with the major issues, but with seemingly insignificant, neutral comments. It is unreal.

Anyone can hide behind a computer screen and berate another with no repercussions whatsoever. Social media has become the vehicle of unintended cruelty. Ironically, those who espouse tolerance are often the biggest offenders.

How can we deal with this, in this time of viciousness? How can people who are gentle, kind-hearted interact in a time of harshness?

Here are some steps to deal with the issue:

1. Do not participate. Though so much of business is online these days, and it is nearly impossible to avoid it, do not participate in anything outside of your main business. If you have a blog, delete the harsh comments. If you have a facebook page, be careful who you “friend.” Same with Twitter etc. Keep your comments on track. Stay focused and your mission and do not engage in any unnecessary chatter.

2. Recognize the benefits of criticism and harshness. Initially hidden as they may be, there a number of benefits that can come from having to deal with harshness. At the top of the list, you get to practice disengaging from negativity. If you never try to grasp the boomerang, it will rocket back to the source. We can also practice tolerance, patience and forgiveness. These certainly come in handy when dealing with ourselves, as well as others.

3. Stop the inner dialogue. There is a famous story of a monk who took a vow of celibacy. During a walk with one of his students one day, he came across a woman who needed help crossing a stream. He picked up the woman and carried her across, setting her down gently once across.

The monk’s student was very upset, as this was a violation of the celibacy vow. After walking in silence for 2 miles, the student finally voiced his displeasure. The monk replied, “I carried her for 25 feet. You have been carrying her for 2 miles.” The Bach Remedy “White Chestnut” is useful in stopping this incessant, internal dialogue.

These are unlikely to resolve all of the problems of the world by any means. They may not even resolve the problems you are experiencing. They will however, stop the issues from burrowing deeper into your psyche and exacerbating the situation.