I Hate It When...

I Hate It When... by Marie T. Russell

I find myself thinking on occasion, "I hate it when...." We use the word hate easily... We hate a certain kind of ice cream, we hate tofu, we hate hurting ourselves, we hate being late, we hate...

This is where I realized that anything that we profess to "hate" is simply a preference on our part. I prefer to not eat Brussels sprouts, which does not mean there is anything wrong with them -- other people love them. As for traffic jams, they are simply a "fact of life" if you live in the city -- now, while I don't know of anyone who loves traffic jams, many people have learned to make the best of them. These people listen to self-help or motivational tapes in the car. Others simply enjoy listening to their favorite music, or catch up on phone calls, or simply enjoy the peace and quiet inside the car.

Hatred Is A Choice

Anything we profess to hate is simply stating that we like something else more, but we choose to say that we "hate" that other thing. Hatred is a choice. It is turning what may be a personal preference or bias into an absolute. If I say I hate something, I do not allow myself to have any experience of joy associated with it. Hating something closes the door to it.

And worse, hating something (or someone) attracts hatred and anger in our lives. Whether the anger comes from our own self as we sit fuming in a traffic jam, or whether it comes from someone else as they also experience the rage of their attitudes, it still is a choice of how to react to any particular circumstance.

Choices Born of Ignorance & Family Attitudes

As for the hatred between races, that too is a choice -- sometimes it's a choice born of ignorance, sometimes a choice bred from family attitudes, and at other times it's a choice made from generalized expectations. But, regardless of that, it's a choice we all face at some point.

It is so easy to fall into generalizations about race... even the jokes encourage it... after all we've all heard jokes about "Polacks", Jews, "Frenchies", etc. etc. There may not be a race that is immune to prejudice of some sort from others that see themselves as different (i.e. better or worse) than them.

While, many of us may not have extreme prejudices or hatreds in our attitudes, if we look deeply we will find them there... even about such inconsequential things as Brussels sprouts. I grew up in Northern Canada... As a child, I did not know any Native American Indians personally, but I had prejudices about them because of things I had heard from others about their alcohol addictions, lack of "work ethics", etc. Thus my attitudes towards all Native American Indians were biased. I learned "hatred" (prejudice) from the people around me.

Preferences: Based on Opinions or Facts?

I Hate It When... by Marie T. Russell

Yet, the important thing to look at is our attitude... an attitude of "better than", an attitude of rejection, an attitude of not wanting certain things or persons in our life. While we all, of course, are entitled to preferences, (I shouldn't have to eat Brussels sprouts if I don't want to), sometimes our preferences are not based on facts. An example of this is someone who says they don't like a particular food, yet they've never actually tasted it... They just have a predisposed attitude about it.

Or, in the same way, my attitude about Native American Indians was not based on my personal experience, but simply on hearsay... And judgments and hatred get propagated that way... From generation to generation, based not on personal experience, but simply on hearsay... on maybe a single experience that someone had that has been generalized to include a whole race, or a whole food group, or a whole country, or whatever.

From "I Hate This" to "I Prefer That"

While it may difficult for me and you personally to eradicate all hatred from the planet, we can certainly start with the one person in our control -- me, myself, and I. Let's reframe all our "hatreds", big and small, to preferences. Let's first realize that all these things we "hate" and that "drive us crazy", are simply preferences on our part. Do you really hate it when your child or spouse or co-worker or neighbor does _____________ (fill in the blanks here), or would you simply prefer if they behaved differently?

Once we recognize that our hatreds are simply based on a personal preference, then we can experiment with making a different choice. Here's an example: Suppose you hate it when your child or spouse leaves their stuff laying around (a small hatred, but an insidious one in that it can contribute to your day being miserable, if you let it). The first thing to realize is that is simply a preference on your part -- you'd prefer if they picked up their stuff. OK. Then, this is where you have a choice. You can get angry at their action (or inaction), or you can simply see it as "what is" and either pick it up yourself if you choose to, or simply let it be. Your action is less relevant than your attitude.

The key is to not choose anger or hatred (for the person or the dirty socks or yourself for being upset at it) -- the key is acceptance of what is. Which doesn't mean we don't work towards changing things in our life, it simply means we don't take on an attitude which includes anger, rage, hatred, etc.

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About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

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