The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine about difficult friendships and how to handle them.
My friend mentioned his personal regrets over a recent dustup with a mutual friend.
At that point I shocked him – and myself – by announcing there are people in this world I actually hate. As in Hate. As in HATE.
What an awful thing to say – to feel – to admit!
Since that day as I’ve unpacked this more (complete with accurate head count and a comprehensive review of contributing circumstances) I’ve steadily bookmarked the reliable presence of either fear or anger, and often both, accompanying my feelings of longstanding hatred towards certain folks.
In fact, I am slowly beginning to learn that what I have been calling “hate” is actually fear in disguise.
It would seem that, the moment I become afraid of someone, either because I perceive them as unfair, unpredictable, mean-spirited, vengeful, dangerous, or some other combination thereof, often the first sign I get of the presence of my fear is actually anger.
I am angry at them for this or that, for something they said or did, or for something they didn’t say or didn’t do.
Or perhaps I am angry at them for threatening me, or for threatening something I perceive I need, or for threatening to bring into my life something I don’t need and don’t want.
Or maybe it is for some other reason.
But whatever the original cause, with continued rumination and exposure I can quickly grow fearful/angry enough to begin venting to others, to run to my mentor for advice, to try to pray for them, even to attempt with all my strength to see their good points and change my own mind about them.
Not surprisingly, this last strategy rarely works.
This is because I am apparently still at a stage in my personal human evolution where fear can trump love with relative ease, especially if love isn’t paying close enough attention.
As well, it appears that leaving those folks behind in my past doesn’t necessarily cure my ongoing feelings of anger, fear, or resulting hate.
I have noticed that while that person – those people – may be ever farther back in my past, the moment my mind recalls them, it is like they are right here with me again, spreading whatever negative, erratic, or rageful vibes that triggered my fear and anger in the first place.
This awful trifecta of “fear, anger, hate” is not an easy one to navigate. I am still working on it, to be honest. But I feel like, in striving to better understand the progression of events leading up to a declaration of “hatred” against another human being, I am also getting a better sense that there is something I can do about it.
I like to know what action I can take to correct something I don’t like in myself or my life. Whether it is rolling about on a foam bolster to cure my aching back or moving to a new apartment to escape a scary downstairs neighbor, the moment I begin to take action, the need for a powerful negative emotion like “hatred” recedes a bit.
And don’t get me wrong – if any of the people on my list crossed my path today or in the future, I would still give them a nice, wide berth.
But in the meantime, contemplation is showing me how to focus not on the hatred, not on the anger even, but on my fear, which is also where I have the power to take action to replace that fear with feelings of safety, security, and (hopefully in time) love.
Today’s Takeaway: If you are lucky, maybe you don’t hate anyone or anything. But if you do, how do you unpack feelings of hatred in your life? What has the presence of feelings of hate taught you about yourself? What works to help yourself move away from hatred and towards tolerance, forgiveness, even compassion and perhaps love? I would love to hear any thoughts and ideas you have!
Furious woman image available from Shutterstock.