“When you hate, the only one that suffers is you because most of the people you hate don’t know it and the rest don’t care.” (The Ghosts of Mississippi)
Hatred. It’s such a powerful word. So often after we find ourselves hurt by another person we quickly jump to ‘hating’ them – I believe this is a survival tactic. See, if we hate them, then we don’t have to feel any sadness over ‘losing’ them or over the fact that they have disrespected us. It’s the easiest response. Or so we think…
Hatred is like poison and it eats you up inside. Along with unforgiveness (which I believe goes hand-in-hand with hatred) it is what turns a person into a monster. I’ve quoted Nietzsche before when he says: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” – And there is nothing harder than living as a monster.
I used to hate people. Very easily, actually. See, back in high school I was a pretty angry person (all those hormones and that ‘teen angst’ stuff…) and so when someone hurt me, I hardened up and got mad. Very mad.
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But the hatred got me nowhere. Sure, it soothed my ego for a bit – allowing me to pretend my hurt didn’t exist – but in the long-run it was exhausting. And eventually, my hatred of others evolved into hatred towards myself. And those who are regular readers of my blog know very well where that led me…
Eventually, I found a way to stop hating – mostly through learning to forgive others and myself.
However, just because I was able to stop hating, doesn’t mean that people stopped hurting me. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to prevent the anger that comes with getting mistreated and hurt.
Then a couple of days ago I was verbally attacked by someone whom I’d previously had an incredibly hurtful relationship with. As he stood there yelling at me, I realized something: I didn’t hate him. I actually cared about him deeply. But there was still a part of me that was mad – and then I realized something else:
there is a difference between hating someone, and hating how someone treated you.
See, there is nothing wrong with hating how someone treated you. It is actually healthy. You are valuable, and you deserve to be treated with respect, and when someone disrespects you, you shouldn’t be OK with it. It should make you mad – but it’s important that you differentiate between hating the person and hating the action.
Initial feelings of anger towards the person are normal; I see anger as being more of a ‘short-term’ thing. Hatred, on the other hand, is drawn-out. Anger is a feeling. Hatred is more a state of being. Hatred is to anger what joy is to happiness (but more on that in another blog…)
Hating the way someone treats you is a sign that you are respecting yourself, and that you are valuing yourself – and that is a good thing! You are standing up for yourself and saying “No! That is not OK. And I won’t accept that.”
Hating someone has nothing to do with self-respect; hating the way someone mistreated you has everything to do with self-respect.
When I was younger, I never hated the way anybody treated me – mostly because I had no concept of my own value. I didn’t hate being mistreated because I felt I deserved it. But I hated people and I hated myself.
Now I can say that I don’t hate anybody, not even this guy. But I won’t say I don’t hate the way he treated me – I respect myself too much for that.
I hope you can find a way to let your feelings of anger towards those who hurt you fade. And I hope you will find a way to hate being mistreated.
But most of all, I hope that you learn to forgive – because there is no joy in becoming a monster.
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