Something happened to me this week, that's actually happened to me many, many times before. I normally keep my big mouth shut about these kind of things, not wanting to name names, call people out or embarrass anyone. But the outcome of this latest situation was so good, so positive that I've decided to share the story with you!
So here's the thing, when you do anything in the public eye, especially if you do it at a level that some folks might consider "successful" or original - your work, your website, your writing, your creative "stuff" is probably going to get noticed. Now, it's super cool when people see your stuff and it moves them, lights them up, and inspires them in turn to create their OWN original stuff!
But, you know what's not so soothing? When those same people like your work, your website, your offering, your idea - SO MUCH, that they go ahead and decide to steal it. Now, I know we're all linked as one conscious mind and we exist in some sort of primordial creative soup, so nothing is truly original, blah, blah, blah - I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about when someone checks out your website and verbatim steals your shit right off of it! They blatantly "borrow" snippets of your layout, your text, your language, your workshop. Sometimes they can be so bold as to copy the whole kit and kaboodle! (Which is what happened in this latest instance.)
I don't know why people do this. Maybe they're afraid they don't have any good ideas of their own. Maybe they're lazy and figure, well she's already being successful at it, why reinvent the wheel? Maybe they secretly hope nobody will notice. Maybe they think that I won't find out.
But, I know a lot of people so this stuff has a funny way of making it's way back to me. You'd be amazed at how many times over the years, I've been told or discovered that someone had lifted my stuff. Now, as a writer (and especially one who's also married to a professional musician/singer/songwriter) we take intellectual property, copyright and Trademark stuff very seriously. So when faced with this kind of blatant stealing, I am not at all impressed.
However, I do my best to respond to the situation from a place of love instead of fear.
THIS IS NOT ALWAYS EASY.
When this kind of thing happens, the Lawrence kid in me has no interest in being nice. So at first, I get pissed and think ALL kinds of unloving thoughts. Things that if I said them out loud they might actually revoke my "yogi" card. So I let that Lawrence kid part of me say what she needs to say, in private, for a few minutes and then I get down to the business of forgiveness. Once I let the wave of anger move through me - I try to get back to the greater question of how can I approach this situation with kindness, compassion and the greatest outcome for all in mind?
THE ANSWER VARIES.
Sometimes, I just let the trespass go. If they're a chronic offender, it's just not worth the time and energy to say something to someone when I know they're going to flat out deny it, because they aren't able or willing to see or admit that they do this kind of thing habitually. Also, if they need to be a follower all the time - if they don't trust their own Divine Inspiration then on some level, they're already suffering.
Sometimes, I reach out and try to be subtle and very gentle and approach it with kid gloves, because I don't think that their intention was to be malicious. They were perhaps just clumsy or ignorant of their own fear and made a bad subconscious choice.
Sometimes, like this latest incident, I take a more direct approach. I pick up the phone and very nicely but firmly say something like, "Hey, I know we've never met and I'm sorry our relationship is starting out this way but seriously, what the f*ck? I mean you totally stole all of this content off of my website!" Now granted - it's not the funnest phone call to make - but in this case, it REALLY needed to be done.
A lot of times, especially in the spiritual community, we get super sensitive about calling people out on their shit. I mean, someone will act like a total colossal asshole and then we'll all tip toe around it because we don't want to come across as being all "judgy" or "lacking compassion" or God forbid, not being "yogic".
This lack of not wanting to call a spade a spade, this fear of being confrontational and choosing to turn a blind eye instead is kind of like a version of Spiritual Bypassing.
The truth is, you can point out a pattern or habit and bring it to someone's attention in a firm but kind way. You can say, "I see you doing this and it's not OK, it's hurtful to yourself and others." You can say, "I'm not going to let you get away with this because I know you're capable of so much more."
SOMETIME'S THE MOST LOVING THING YOU CAN SAY TO SOMEONE IS, "NO"!
So that's what I did. I picked up the phone and laid it out for the person. And you know what? We ended up having a great conversation! They totally admitted what they'd done, sincerely apologized and promised to remove the page from their website immediately.
As we talked, as the person explained why they did it and what was going on with them, I said, "Look, all this stuff you're telling me about yourself - all this stuff that makes you YOU - this right here, is YOUR website copy!" We had a good laugh and I said, "God/Spirit did not make you so that you could be more like me - you're here to share your own unique gifts and talents. You're not supposed to be like me. You're not supposed to sound like me. You're supposed to be like you and shine your light in your own way. The world doesn't need another Karen Kenney. What they need is the best you!"
YOUR JOB IS JUST TO BE YOUR OWN AWESOME SELF!