The gift of hate?

“I won’t give you the gift of hating you.”

These wise words of Antoine Leiris, made as a public statement to those who murdered his wife in Paris’s 2015 terrorist attack, stick in my mind.

Wise words, because hatred is more expensive for the hater than the hated.

Holding anger and hatred toward another is like giving them the keys to our inner kingdom.

Anger and hate are normal human emotions when they happen occasionally. But feed hatred, and it will grow and breed further negative emotions.

Anyone who has ever hated knows how consuming an emotion it can be. It takes over our thoughts, over-rides feelings of joy, and pollutes our personal relationships.

Hatred’s an intense emotion that’s like a magnet, causing us to be drawn back to the object of our distaste again and again. Its powerful energy brings with it a destructive power, whether it’s turned inward or outward.

Hatred of others has dangerous consequences, even if we don’t act on them, and self-hatred makes us sick and depressed.

Society suffers because of hate, and results are witnessed far too often.

Hatred toward a group is found to increase and spread more quickly than hatred toward individual people, according to research. This may explain the virulent virus of hatred that quickly spreads toward different political parties or ethnicities. We’ve dehumanized them.

Hatred and associated anger may feel powerful to the person who loathes another, but it’s expensive to their mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as relationships. They’re hard to be around.

Hatred is addictive. As feelings of hatred and rage build up in the mind, we are kept attached to the object of our hatred, and we get stuck in a negative loop. We don’t think clearly.

Two hate researchers, Semir Zeki and John Paul Romaya, discovered a hate circuit in the brain. When this circuit’s engaged, it decreases self-awareness, perception, and judgment. This is why so many horrendous acts are done as a result of hate.

An activated hate circuit keeps us prepared for attack, stuck in the stress response, and increases the development of obsessive-compulsive behaviours. We laugh less often and do irrational things.

Hatred make us sick. It causes elevated adrenaline and cortisol levels, depleting the adrenal glands, and harming the immune system.  The risk of stroke, heart attack, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and weight-gain increase. Compromised immunity lingers for 6 hours following a 5-minute experience of holding hatred.

Why would we give so much power to something we don’t like? Why would we harm ourselves in this way?

To break the addictive quality of hatred, we have to stop feeding it.

 To overcome hatred and anger, it’s important to:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t just push them down or pretend they’re not there.
  • Step back for a moment. Take some deep breaths or go for a walk to calm the mind.
  • Realize why you’re feeling this way.
  • Recognize fear, insecurity, or feeling unsafe are often the seeds of the more toxic emotions.
  • Consider whether it’s worth your mental and physical health to stay engaged with the person or issue.
  • Deal with the issue. Try to find a solution to the problem.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member to help gain clarity and alleviate the negative feelings. They may have good advice and help put things in perspective.
  • Let go of unhealthy thought patterns. This takes awareness and self-discipline.
  • It’s important to recognize the seeds of hate as they are being planted, and dislodge them before they take root and grow.
  • Seek professional assistance if necessary.

If we can’t change the person or situation, we can change how we think about them. Making a conscious decision to detach from troublesome situations, or people, can help us restore balance and harmony in our own lives.

Everyone experiences anger or hatred from time to time. Learning how to restore harmony, happiness, and health to our own lives puts us back in the driver’s seat.

The opposite of hate isn’t love, it’s detachment. We’ve got to make a conscious decision to not stay attached to the object of our dismay. In this radical act, we take our power back.

Why would we give something or someone we dislike so much of our precious mental and emotional coin? What we feed grows stronger, and our health and happiness bear the negative effects.

I agree with Martin Luther King Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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