Home Psychology Why Do I Hate People

Why Do I Hate People

by Lyndon Langley
Why Do I Hate People

Why Do I Hate People

Feelings of hatred or intense emotional dislike develop for many reasons. People might begin to hate another person or group when they:
Feel envy or want what the other person has.
Have contempt for another person or believe them to be inferior.
Want revenge on someone because they have harmed us in some way.
Believe that a certain type of person is out to get us and we should not trust them, or that everyone who’s mean or unfair is our enemy and must be opposed. (This attitude may reflect a strong sense of superiority.)
These are just some examples of why people can feel hatred toward others. The reasons behind this animosity vary from case to case. And often there are several factors involved. But whatever the reason, it does seem clear that feelings of hatred are very common. In fact, according to one study, about half of all Americans harbor such resentments at least once during their adult lives.
So how do these emotions take root? Why do we develop negative feelings about others? What happens if we don’t learn ways to cope with such feelings? And, most importantly, how can we overcome them so that we aren’t driven by hatred or resentment as much as we are today? Read on to find out more.
When Negative Emotions Take Root
Feeling hatred begins with an event that sets off the negative feelings within you. It could be something like being cheated by your partner in a romantic relationship, losing a job, having your child ridiculed by peers, getting a poor service experience or even witnessing a car accident involving death. Whatever the cause, it’s usually followed by thoughts and behaviors related to the incident. For example, you may think “I’m never going to forgive her!” You may say things like “That was really stupid,” or “What kind of idiot doesn’t know how to change a tire?” These comments tend to reinforce your sense of anger and frustration. They also make it difficult to see any alternatives. If you’re angry and frustrated, why bother trying anything else? Your view becomes fixed — it’s hard to give up on that point of view without giving up altogether. This leads to further negativity.
Once the first event occurs, it seems easy enough to keep hating the same person over time. We can become obsessed with thinking negatively about that person, seeing them as the source of everything wrong in our life. We start comparing ourselves to them, which only makes us feel worse. We look around for support in our hatred, finding little sympathy among those closest to us. Our friends and family members may try to help, but they won’t understand our plight, and we’ll probably end up blaming them too.
Another problem is that we may come to conclude that we can’t control our circumstances. After all, the problems seem to occur randomly, rather than following any sort of pattern. There’s no logical explanation for why bad things happen to good people, and that creates anxiety and fear. So we become fearful of taking risks and doing new things. We stop pursuing goals or dreams that would improve our quality of life. Instead, we sit back and wait until life gives us something positive to focus upon. We can become withdrawn into a protective shell, feeling safe but unhappy.
If we don’t learn to deal with these issues, we may progress from feeling hatred to becoming full-blown haters. Hatred can lead to violence, including physical harm. That’s where the term “hate crime” comes from. When we direct the energy and emotion of hatred toward others, we risk hurting or destroying ourselves as well as others.
But we needn’t let hatred consume us. As discussed next, there are many effective coping strategies.
Coping Skills to Help Overcome Hatred
Hating someone can be a self-destructive habit. Coping skills can help you break free. One way is to acknowledge that your feelings of hatred exist but then put them aside temporarily. Try focusing on something else instead, such as making plans with a friend. Or talk about it with your significant other or close relative. Another strategy is to write down your feelings while avoiding judgmental language. Write about what happened to trigger your hatred. Describe your thoughts and reactions, but be careful not to blame yourself or others. Make sure you don’t use words like “idiot” or “stupid.” Express your feelings calmly, as though discussing an unpleasant situation with a business associate. Then ask yourself, “How can I move forward?”
Next, consider whether you’re using hatred to avoid dealing with deeper issues. Is it possible that you’re projecting your own fears onto this person? Are you afraid of failure or rejection? Maybe you feel unworthy or inadequate. You may have experienced childhood neglect, abuse or bullying. Perhaps you’ve been hurt in love before. Such experiences can leave deep scars that we sometimes mistake for reality. It’s important to recognize these painful memories and work through them.
Finally, remember that hatred isn’t necessarily permanent. You can change your mind. Often, when we become aware of our hatred, we realize it’s irrational. We can look for alternative explanations for misfortune, and accept that we’re responsible for our actions. Learning to live with mistakes and imperfections is part of growing up. We can forgive others and ourselves. We can learn to accept that some things are beyond our control.

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