“Hate” is the bad word that’s taken over all of our hearts at one time or another. It’s the energetic pattern that has wrought so much pain and suffering to our Earth, but so much introspection, insight, and understanding, as well.
Why does this happen to us? What causes us to hate? We know we hate when we want to be in the right. We know we hate when we don’t understand something. We know we hate when someone does something we deem to be “bad” or embarrassing.
The common theme among all these, though, is that we hate because it makes us feel safe. Feeling safe is paramount to us, as people. Hate can distance us from the subjects that make us feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and uncertain.
It’s for this reason that hatred, anger, judgment, and all associated emotions can become an ally in inner exploration and healing. By noticing when we’re feeling that way, we can interrogate ourselves about why that’s happening and open our hearts to the bigger part of us, the one that’s not governed by negative emotions.
Judgment, in particular, is a lesser form of hatred, but it’s one that permeates our daily lives like no other hate-based emotion. It often shows up in passive assumptions or in-jokes about groups or individuals where they’re the punchline. It’s incongruous with an open heart and prevents us from developing real, mature spiritual values.
When is hate valuable?
It’s valuable to us when we’re in danger. For example, children in abusive households will hate their abusive parents, and it often winds up being the only thing keeping the child safe and alive. It serves to distance them from the perpetrator of the abuse. It helps them know that what their parents are doing to them is inappropriate, violent, and unacceptable.
As an adult in a safer situation, they may end up relinquishing their former feelings of hatred by working through the trauma caused by their abuse. That doesn’t mean they have to forgive their parents, or that the parents were justified in acting that way, but the experiences have been moved on from. The adult may proceed with their life not unaffected but feeling better for having moved on.
Releasing hate isn’t just a simple process of knowing that it’s there and knowing that it’s not in your best interest. If it were that easy, the adult in that hypothetical abuse scenario wouldn’t have to go through years of therapy to undo what their parents inflicted upon them. Many people out there know that their thoughts and feelings aren’t useful – getting rid of them is another step.
But let’s look at some of the judgment you might feel on a regular basis. Do you find yourself annoyed or resentful when someone does something you think is embarrassing or unnecessary? Do you see people who are dressed a certain way and think, “God, why would they do that?” And, most importantly, is whatever you see harmful, or do you just not like it?
It’s not that it’s not okay to not like something, because everyone has their tastes, and sometimes those aren’t worth pounding out of our heads – it’s not hurting anybody if I don’t like loud parties, for instance. I can decide not to go to one!
But the way you act about it makes a significant difference. Would you “tsk” someone for going to a lot of parties? Do you make up justification in your head about how everyone who enjoys partying or socializing is missing out on reading or isn’t intellectual enough, even if you don’t know what the rest of their lives are like?
This attitude is prevalent in the spiritual community, too, believe it or not. Because we can be sensitive people, we often turn our sensitivities into judgment to keep us feeling safe.
If someone enjoys something we’re sensitive about, believes something we don’t believe in, or any number of other things, we can turn that into judgmental attitudes and generalize everyone who fits that description.
Worse is that as social animals, our generalizations are often fed and confirmed by popular culture, which means that we may have prejudices formed on some of the worse parts of our country’s history, whether we realize they’re there or not.
So how do we work through that hate?
Being aware of it is a start. But the real work comes with adjusting your thoughts to be appropriate to the situation, which means countering your judgments with rational responses. Some simple examples of judgmental thoughts and counterarguments are:
“That woman is dressed like a slob” can become “it’s not hurting anyone. Maybe she’s having a bad day” which can eventually become “I don’t know why she’s dressed like that, but all it’s doing is making her more comfortable, so that’s a plus for her.”
“They’re an extrovert, so they must not be intellectual” can become “they enjoy socializing, and I don’t, but that doesn’t mean anything” which can eventually become “being extroverted just means they have an extra skill they can use, and that’s great.”
“Gaining weight isn’t a health issue for me, but I don’t want to get fat” can become “getting fat is normal even if I don’t think it’s cute” which can eventually become “if I were fat, I would be just as cute as I am now, because there are many attractive fat people in the world.”
All of these are straightforward issues, but may still take a long time to untangle, especially if our self-worth or fears are caught up in them.
Of course, there’s more to life than simple, harmless issues. Much of the time our judgments come from being hurt by something, and sometimes the idea that we could be hurt again.
A 180-degree turnaround isn’t a requirement for all issues of judgment. Sometimes judgments are fair; if that weren’t the case, no criticism would ever be legitimate. But we can undo our generalizations and make judgments only on the bad, leave it at that, and then shift our focus to the good.
Changing your perspective on hate is hard, but it’s possible, and this is how you start it.
How would you feel if you could finally let go of the hate caused by others? How would letting go of hate change how you felt about yourself?
It’s always good to be open to the possibilities, and whatever way you go about it, you’ll end up a better person in the long run. Hate is exhausting for everyone involved in it; imagine letting that weight roll off your back and feeling better about yourself because you can see what’s underneath all of that.
Keep an open mind!
Let me know what you think in the comments, and how you feel about some of the hate in your life.