Alright everyone. This one is a personal one. The honest truth is that in my life, I’d never really hated anyone. I’d definitely disliked people. I’d really disliked people. But I never hated anyone.
But then I did.
I hated someone.
I hated them with every fiber of my being.
I hated them so much that I spent time each day wishing that bad things would happen to them. Sometimes I didn’t even realize that I was doing it, until I checked my phone and realized that I’d been roasting this person in an imaginary hellfire for the greater part of the afternoon.
I hated that I hated this particular person. I felt like a bad person for hoarding this hate inside me, inside my chest.
And I didn’t know what to do with it, or how to let it go.
I felt like it needed to stop. Like I was poisoning myself with this hatred, letting it burn up inside of me.
But how could I get rid of it? How did I stop? After all, the thing that happened that caused all of this hate, it was still a bad thing. A traumatic thing. And that event, that catalyst, that would still be there no matter what I did with my anger.
It took time. But I managed to do what previously seemed impossible. I pushed past my anger.
In this article, I’m going to talk through how I managed to get through this. How I extinguished the fire that I swore up and down would burn forever. So I could move on and finally feel happier, healthier, and less burdened by all that negativity I had been carrying for months….no wait….years.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.Buddha
What’s the first step to getting past hatred like mine?
A lot of people will tell you that you’ll have to forgive the person you hate to get over that hatred.
After all, that THING, whatever that THING was that caused all of this hatred….that thing doesn’t get erased with forgiveness. It doesn’t get swallowed by a hole.
It. Is. Still. There.
There was no way I could forgive him. Wasn’t going to happen.
So, for the first step in overcoming massive terrible hatred, for me, was to actually confront exactly WHY I was so hateful.
The truth was that I had spent many months wrapped up in my feelings. To the point that I couldn’t see them clearly anymore. I couldn’t see myself clearly, not even a little bit.
To put myself on the path to overcoming my hatred, I had to unravel exactly WHY I felt so strongly.
And when I pushed on this a little bit, I found that the root of my hurt, and my anger, had less to do with his actual actions, and more about my own.
Not that I did something wrong, per se, but it had to do with the fact that I trusted him. That I gave him the power over me. That I gave him the tools that he then used against me.
I trusted him. And he betrayed that trust that I gave to him.
When I started pushing on this aching, oozing wound, I discovered that I was just as angry with myself, as I was with him.
Perhaps more so.
Facing this truth wasn’t something I was able to come to in a day, or even a week. I spent a lot of time unpacking this, and it wasn’t always something that I was able to do by myself. I had to talk to other people openly about what it was about me, deep down inside, that was clinging to these feelings.
But I had to get to this truth. That my hatred was more about me than it was about him.
It won’t be the same for everyone. Sometimes the THING, whatever the THING is, isn’t about you, and is entirely 100% about them. But I would suggest that if you feel it was 100% the fault of the other person, you are probably not being as honest with yourself as you could be.
In general, it takes two people to be angry. And the sooner you can admit to whatever your role was in the birth of the negativity, the sooner you’ll be able to start moving past it.
For every minute that you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind.Ralph Waldo Emerson
Next, once you’ve uncovered the roots of your dark feelings, it’s time for forgiveness….but not the kind you think.
Once I was able to finally put a finger on my hatred, it was time for forgiveness.
But not for him.
You see, I wasn’t ready to forgive him. I wasn’t ready to say to the world or even to myself that I was ready to forget what happened, or excuse what he did in any way.
I wasn’t ready truly to release my feelings of resentment towards him.
I just wasn’t. He hurt me. And he hurt other people.
So forgiveness for him was (and still is) out.
But there was another person who was desperately ready to be forgiven.
That was myself.
You see, I felt deep down that the choices I had made, the mistakes I had made, all of those things had done, had led me to the place where I ultimately got hurt.
I felt like it was my fault.
This is what I realized when I started looking closer at how I felt.
I felt like it was my fault.
And I was mad at myself for letting it happen. I hated myself for making the choices that I made that led to the big hurt.
I found that I could be kind to just about every wretched person in the world (except for the man who hurt me), and of course, myself.
In talking with a good friend of mine as I was working through this, it really hit me how hard we are on ourselves, especially women. We are kind to our children. We raise them up when they fall. Shrug off broken dishes, and boneheaded mistakes. Without a thought. We respond with “I love you.”
But when it comes to ourselves, there isn’t a shred of it remaining or available, nor would we think to use it on ourselves.
And once I realized how I felt about myself….I also realized that it was time to forgive myself.
Acknowledge that I played a part in my hurt, and also that I could put it in the past and move on from it.
To realize finally that the choices I made didn’t define me. The hurt wasn’t who I was. That what had happened in the past didn’t have to dictate what happened in my future.
That I could move on, move forward, and leave this baggage all behind.
And once I was able to forgive myself for the role I played in the THING, I found I was able to breath again, without that miasma of bad feeling all around me. I let go of those negative feelings I was clutching close to me, and they rushed away from me like I had let go the strings of a bunch of balloons.
I felt free.
As we know, forgiveness of oneself is the hardest of all the forgiveness.Joan Baez
After forgiveness, it is time to move on…
Once I was able to actually forgive myself, I realized that it was time to move on. And not just past my hatred. But also in my life. I realized that all the time I had spent wrapped up in my emotions had really stymied my life and progress in so many ways.
I had passed on projects due to my lack of energy or lost self-confidence. I had lost momentum on some passion projects that I loved. That the loss of my zeal for life had actually cost me some very important relationships with friends and family. They had all moved on! While I had just stagnated.
I also realized that the path out of the pit of hatred is a bit of a slippery slope. You have to keep walking, to keep moving, to keep your feet secure and stable. Because if you don’t, if you aren’t disciplined in my mind and heart, you can slip backwards down the slope and find yourself back where you were before in a blink.
To fully overcome your hatred of someone, you have to take active steps to move on, move past that time in your life when those feelings were their strongest, when they consumed you.
So I pushed myself to return to healthy activities, to resume my relationships, to try new things, to focus on my health and physical fitness.
And I felt better.
Forgive yourself for your faults and your mistakes and move on.Les Brown
So what about all that hatred? Do you still hate him?
I never had an specific moment when I “released” my hate officially. I didn’t find it in my heart to ever officially “forgive” him. But what I did find is that the pain and emotion against him dulled over time, the less I focused on him and the more I focused on myself.
I no longer lose hours a week immersed in hate. I no longer feel burdened by what happened.
I no longer feel like my negativity is dragging me down.
I feel happier.
And maybe one day, I’ll get there. I’ll forgive him. I’ll release whatever feelings remain and be done with it.
But I’m not going to expect it to happen in a day, a week, a month, or in a year.
And neither should you.
Big feelings can take a lot of time to process. Take your time. Don’t let anyone push you faster than you a ready to go.
In time, you’ll get there.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.