Why Do We Hate?

After a conversation I saw recently on Twitter by the lovely Miss_Chicken, I thought I would talk a bit today about hate and hatred.

Every day you hear the word hate bandied around a lot. People hate foods, they hate music or books or movies, they hate famous people, they hate some douchebag that cut them off in traffic, they hate the green paint in their office, they hate the smell of petrol, they hate decaf coffee, they hate Mondays.
I’m not quite sure that most people quite know what hatred is, or what it does to them. I still catch myself doing it from time to time, though I’ve cured myself of doing it in reference to people. I caught myself saying earlier today that I hate bureaucracy, and I’ve had to give myself a little shake.
You see hatred is poisonous. It makes the person with the hatred the most ill. Hatred is also a waste of your energy. As the old saying goes, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.
A few years ago, when I was at my lowest point, I talked about hate a lot. I hated myself, I hated my family, I hated how people treated me, I hated my body, I was just full of hate. My psychologist challenged me to change my thinking and let go of all the hate, which in most cases, was anger I wasn’t brave enough to express. She asked me to take notice of every time I used the word hate, and see if I could find another word that expressed my feelings better than hate. I found that the more that I thought about it, what I was feeling was not hate. It was anger, fear, irritation, frustration, sadness. Those are all a lot more scary to deal with than hate. Hate is so definite, it’s easy to latch onto.
I don’t hate peas. I just don’t like the taste of them. I don’t hate Angelina Jolie, she just irritates the shit out of me. I don’t hate spiders, I’m afraid of them. I don’t hate homophobes, I am just very angry at them.
The question was asked on Twitter recently if hatred was borne out of jealousy. I think some hatred is definitely borne of envy, that’s for sure. People who choose to literally hate other people are sometimes envious of those they hate. Particularly those that can’t just leave that person alone. I’ve never quite understood the concept of “enemies”. Why would you want to focus any more attention on a person that you don’t like?
The thing is, one chooses to hate. It’s not involuntary, and I believe it’s something we learn. I am choosing not to hate. Like everything, it’s a work in progress, but it’s a decision I’ve made. I seem to have conquered the hating people thing, I don’t even hate my family any more, though I’m still angry at most of them. But I still hate stuff sometimes. Because it’s easy to hate stuff. I mean, it’s just stuff, and it’s annoying, or scary (like spiders, I still hate them a bit).
Every time I hear the word “hate” come out of my mouth, or my typing fingers, or cross my mind, I’m going to challenge it. Ask myself what I really feel about the think I’m stating hatred for.
Because I’m pretty sure it’s not worthy of hatred, whatever it is.

September 25, 2009. anger, choice, frustration, hatred, learning.

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