Dear Christina, How do I still love people who do things I hate? I have a brother-in-law who does things that I absolutely hate. He is always being negative and mean to my sister and he treats her poorly. And I just can’t help but hate him for it. I don’t want to hate him, but I do. Please help me.
Dear Conflicted One,
Thank you for writing in. :) You’re asking for help with a situation that so many other people also find themselves in.
Here’s something really important that I want you to consider: Perhaps you don’t hate him, as a human being. Perhaps you simply hate how what he does makes you and your sister feel.
For example, perhaps you hate the feelings of powerlessness you feel in not being able to help create a more peaceful world for your sister? Perhaps you hate feeling so helpless and so unable to protect her? Perhaps you hate knowing that she’s hurting so much and there’s nothing you can do to change it for her. Perhaps you hate that you can’t control or change this outcome for her.
You see, we don’t typically hate people (even though we think we do). But we can certainly hate how other people’s actions can make us feel. And feelings of powerlessness and pain are usually pretty big triggers for projecting feelings of “hate” onto another. The problem with this strategy is that it will keep you stuck and in a powerless place of hate and self-shame.
So, my first recommendation to you would be to see what’s really bothering you. Hate is almost always just a cover-up for emotional pain and/or fear; and the pain/fear usually lies just underneath the hate. Until you get in touch with the real pain/fear, you’ll be stuck in the hate-laced, blame game that will make you feel like crap (because I gather you’re not the kind of person who wants to run around hating other people; there are never positive feelings that come from that).
Once you get in touch with your true feelings and what’s really being triggered in you, I’d recommend you let yourself feel all that pain and all the fear that you’re ready to feel. For me, sometimes that means I cry, like a balling-my-eyes-out kind of cry that can last for hours; other times I punch pillows; sometimes I go for a ride in my car and scream at the top of my lungs; other times I put on my boxing gloves and kickbox with my bag for a while; sometimes I go for a fast run; and other times I can simply pray and meditate and feel everything I need to feel. Do whatever feels good and right to you, so long as it’s safe and doesn’t violate you or someone/something else.
And then after you’ve allowed yourself to feel what you need to feel, you can then channel all the energy you spent hating him into more productive actions, such as spending more time positively supporting yourself and your sister in ways that best honor her, her choices, and her journey.
I know it may seem impossible right now to honor her choices since they are choices you would not make for yourself (or for her), but one thing that has helped me to learn how to do this is the belief that every person has a journey to complete in their lifetime. And I believe we are each guided to the people and experiences that can help us complete our journeys, and sometimes these people and experiences can bring forth feelings of pain. But I’ve learned that our hardships prepare us for living our purpose and they can help us to develop the strength we need to thrive; in other words, there can be purpose in our pain. I find great truth and a deep personal peace from this belief.
I’ve also learned that if we want peace in our own lives, we must accept the choices other people make for themselves, even if we don’t like their choices, and it sounds like your sister has made a choice — for reasons you may never understand, and perhaps aren’t supposed to. Perhaps your only lesson in all of this is to learn how to love more fiercely. To love less conditionally. To #chooselove, even when it’s damn hard to. To have more compassion even when it feels like the last thing you can/should do. And why, you may ask? It would be so that you can keep your peace, your compassionate soul, your happiness, and so many of the things you love and value about you. And therefore, you can show others the way.
One trick I’ve learned to stay in a place of compassion, even when I’m being triggered, is to remember that people who mistreat other people are usually people in pain. And they likely feel stuck and afraid and just don’t know how to channel that pain into what they really crave: feeling safe, secure, and loved. And so they project their pain as a means of self-protection, however misguided it is.
I know what it’s like to carry deep pain. I’m sure you do too. Therefore, channel that remembrance, perhaps, when you’re thinking about your brother-in-law as my guess is that he’s just a man in pain and completely unaware of how to stop the pain, so he projects it onto other people, your sister included. Having compassion for him does not mean that you believe poor treatment is acceptable. It simply means that you are staying in your power as a loving being, which is a much more powerful position to be in. For that is the strength and power one needs to create healthy boundaries and leave dynamics that are not honoring.
Below is a post I wrote a few years back when I was going through a situation in my personal life and trying to figure out what needed to shift in ME so that I could love a person who was doing things that made him super easy to hate. I thought this post may be helpful to you as well.
Thank you for writing in to us and thank you for loving your sister enough to want the very best for her.
With loving kindness,
Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to love someone you hate? I mean, why the hell would anyone want to do that?! Well, read on. There’s a really important reason why.
Loving someone you hate. It’s probably one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. And probably one that seems illogical. Why on earth would someone want to love a person they hate? And what does “loving them” mean?
Let’s deal with the first question first. Loving a person you hate means you desire peace over personal conflict. It means you desire freedom over self-imposed restraint. And it means that you desire to live and operate from a place of unconditional love — even toward those whom you believe may not be deserving of your unconditional love. Why? How can that be?
Well, my darling, it’s because hate takes from you rather than gives to you. Hate for someone eats at the core of your Spirit — not theirs. Hate condemns you to a tit-for-tat mentality and keeps you operating from a place of spite and fear. And hate keeps you connected to negativity rather than allowing you to rise above the negativity and choose peace — your peace. Personal peace. And, thus, personal freedom. The freedom to love without condition. The freedom to walk through life with your compass pointed toward your higher and best Self and your truth — your truth that is love.
Many years ago I was dealing with a horrifying situation that was challenging the very core of my being and my essence. I was dealing with a person who was very easy to hate. He made it easy. And that’s exactly why I knew I needed to dig very deep within myself and choose to love him, and to do so without condition. If I didn’t love him without condition, then I would have allowed him to control me and break me down. And, then I, too, would have begun to operate from fear rather than from love and a deep love for all involved. I would have given away that which I held dear to me and know to be true: I am love. I operate from love (even when it’s hard to), and no one can take that away from me. I will always choose the path of love — even when I’m afraid to — and perhaps, especially when I’m afraid to.
You see, we are all born to be loving, kind human beings. We are all born to attach to love as the source of survival, and as we grow, we all continue to need love to prosper. But for some, most of us actually, as we move through our lives, we learn that love — unconditional love –is illusive, scary, and hard. Most everyone, at some point in life, begins to have conditions placed on the love they receive, and in turn, they learn to place conditions on the love they give. Our switch to placing conditions happens without conscious thought, and there’s usually no malice intended. It happens because we and others are afraid, and when we operate from fear, the love we give becomes predicated on the love we receive (or the way it is given and received).
But back to the question, What does “loving people you hate” mean?
Loving someone, without condition, does not mean that you sacrifice yourself, accept or tolerate poor treatment.
You do not. I repeat, you do not. It is quite the opposite. Read on.
The gift of loving, without any conditions — especially for someone we hate — the gift is for us. Not for them.
When we love the people we hate without condition, we are able to let them go and let them be who they are. Their actions have less of an effect on us because we know how they move through the world; we can anticipate how they may respond and we stop expecting them to act or be something different — we stop placing conditions on them to be someone they are not. We accept them for who they are — even if we don’t like what they do.
When we choose to hate someone, the reason we hate is because they stir up feelings within us that aren’t comfortable. We generally hate a person’s behavior, not them as human beings. Their behavior challenges our very core and all things good in our world. We hate because we dislike or are afraid of how the person makes us feel — or because of the things we think they make us do.
Now here’s where the magic begins. The lesson. And the gift.
We hate because we don’t realize the lesson they are here to teach us. The gift they are here to provide. We hate because we don’t realize the blessing and the opportunity they are giving to us to grow, to expand our awareness of ourselves and others. As crazy as it sounds, these people, if you let them, will teach you how to love more freely, more deeply, and without condition.
I rarely quote the Bible in my posts, but it seems appropriate here: “forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (King James version). Even though you may think they know exactly “what they do”, they are likely operating from fear and/or personal ignorance; they are likely not as evolved, and they just don’t know it.
So the outcome, my dear, is forgiveness.
The day you choose to forgive them, to love them, is the day you choose to retain the power over yourself, your feelings, and your decisions. You determine how you choose to walk through the world and treat others. The day you choose to love them is the day you step even closer to living and operating from your best and highest Self.
I choose love. And I choose to love the people who do things that would otherwise make them easy to hate. I choose to love. By doing so, I honor myself. I honor the other parties. I honor my spirit. And I honor all that is good in the world and in humanity.
As you journey through life, please remember that there’s meaning in everything and everyone. Search for it. I promise you will find it. I promise. If what I’ve written here isn’t clear or if you need help finding the lesson, the meaning, and the healing in your current situation, write a comment below or submit a request; it would be my honor to support you and help you find the meaning and the healing you so deserve.
I’ll end with a quote that sums it all up.
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Until next time,