When someone does something bad to you or someone else, it’s normal to hate them. But how much hate is enough? And, more importantly, how do you stop hating someone?
In the ideal world, people deal with the consequences of their mistakes. Whoever hurt someone or did something wrong own up and apologize to whoever was offended, right? But in the era of “cancellation” things go a little further. Whoever makes a mistake becomes “cancelled”. And whoever makes a mistake becomes hated. But how much hate is enough? And, more importantly, how do you stop hating someone?
Think of someone who screwed up big on national television, for example, and brought all that bad feelings to themselves for having been a bad person. We have already reflected here (see the link above) on what this person should do when he discovers that he has acted wrongly or that he is “bad”. But what do we, who hate her, do?
Just like those who made a mistake, the people who threw the stones also need to go through a process of reparation. So let’s see how to do it in the best way for everyone.
Understanding hate and its consequences
Hate is an emotion. It lives inside your head somewhere between anger, fear and disgust. It can be caused by many variables, but most of the time it is fueled by processes of distorted understandings and generalizations. At worst, hatred can inspire violent acts.
Many people believe that ignoring hate (or other emotions) makes it go away. It doesn’t work like that. Unresolved emotions build up and intensify over time. The more intense an emotion, the more physically difficult it is to contain it. This is when we begin, without realizing it, to clench our jaw, grind our teeth, tense our muscles, or clench our fists.
Also, extreme emotions trigger the release of stress hormones in our brains. When we repress emotions like hate, the release of these hormones doesn’t stop and, over time, leads to an increase in inflammation throughout the body and can lead to bad health consequences.
How to start fighting hate
The simple answer is that it depends on the situation. If you feel hate for a person or group of people you don’t understand, for example, the solution is empathy (the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings) and compassion (engaging in an act of kindness). Don’t assume anything. Ask directly why a person is a way they are or why they do the things they do.
If you hate a person or a group of people who have done something bad to you, you will need self-compassion. It’s OK to be upset about what happened and to set boundaries to maintain your physical and emotional safety in the future. Even so, try to communicate about the impact this person’s behaviour (or people) has had on your life. With support (perhaps from therapy ) and if it is healthy and appropriate, consider what it might take to stop hating and forgive.
What to do to stop hating someone
First of all, stop and think. Reflect on whether what you are saying to yourself or others when you talk about why you hate is correct or exaggerated – or false. Is there evidence that supports everything you accuse? Can you even think of arguments against your hatred?
Second, whenever you find yourself thinking in a generalizing or love-or-hate way, try to get back into balance. Instead of saying, “This person is trash,” consider, “I don’t agree with what this person did.”
Lastly, try a free act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be for the person, but it can be with them in mind. Be nice to someone for free, or don’t get into a chain of name-calling or cancellation, for example.
How do I stop hating someone I don’t even know?
If you got into a giant cancellation and suddenly found yourself hating someone famous, for example, remember that “canceling” people is the least effective way to point out mistakes and correct bad attitudes.
If what the “cancelled” did was something serious and the proper authorities are already aware of these acts, there is nothing else you can do. If you want to charge for penalties, fine. But from the moment they are already happening, it is up to you to give space to those who made mistakes to reflect and, perhaps, to mature.