Hate into Love

love and hate“You reclaim your power by loving what you were once taught to hate.” ― Bryant McGill

Honestly, I don’t even know who Bryant McGill is. But when my friend, Joi, posted his quote recently, it captured my imagination.

I once dated a guy who was always complaining about what he hated: the bad drivers and politicians he didn’t agree with, the millionaire, no-talent rock stars and the cheesy sports announcers. After a while, it was a total energy drain to be around him. Even if he had good reason for his hatred, it wore me down.

What if we could transform that energy of hate? Imagine the power we’d free up.

Think about a group of people you’ve been taught to hate (or if “hate” is too strong, “dislike” or “have aversion toward”): maybe people of a different race or religion, or people who behave in a certain way or participate in a behavior. (It’s okay. One way or another, almost all of us have been taught to hate someone.) Imagine yourself like a non-violent activist who makes a real difference in the world not by fighting back or getting revenge but by peacefully saying, “No more.”

Showing compassion for the “enemy” brings us back to the reality of our interconnection; brings us back into integration. Hatred makes some people different than us and therefore not deserving of the rights we have or the treatment that everyone deserves. “Othering” groups of people creates an illusion of separateness that allows us to think and behave badly. If we teach ourselves to love what we were once taught to hate, we have power to transform even gaping cultural differences.

Now consider a particular person who you learned to hate: perhaps someone who did something to hurt you either directly or indirectly, or someone who you vehemently disagree with. It could be someone you know personally (maybe in your family), or a public figure. Now imagine a Buddha or a saint or some kind and enlightened being sitting beside you. She gently puts her hand on yours, and acknowledges your pain and suffering. She then points out that while indeed this individual did some hurtful or unwise things, that they were absolutely doing they best they could given their thoughts, experiences, and their own hurt.

Anger and hatred toward someone is like throwing hot coals at them with your bare hands: you both get hurt. Finding love for that individual doesn’t mean you condone their behavior or that you let it continue, but that you approach them with an open heart rather than a condemning one. This is easier on you and it’s more likely you’ll find peace with them. If we teach ourselves to love what we have learned to hate, we have the power to transform our relationships even with difficult people.

And what about you? Think of something in yourself – a part of your body or a behavior or any part of you – that you either have been taught or have learned to hate. What if you looked at that part of you with tenderness and care, as part of you that needs your love and attention and needs to be integrated into the whole of you? Could you let go of the aversion and welcome in even the trickiest part of you? Teach ourselves to love what we have been taught to hate and we have the power to find health and well-being by integrating all parts of us.

Hatred and anger are extensions of fear. Anything I say that I “hate,” I am actually afraid of in some way. Whether it is a group of people, an individual, or some part of ourselves, if we say we hate it, right below that is a fear. In the Nia Brown Belt, we delve into the notion that every single choice is motivated by one of two things: Love or Fear. Simple as it sounds, look at any decision you’ve made and see if you can’t find the truth in it.

This week, make a courageous and transformational move to reclaim your power by loving what you were once taught to hate. You’ll be amazed at the power it unleashes!

  1. joy said:

    As I was reading your post, I was reminded (once again) how easy it has become for me to choose compassion for others who “do me wrong,” yet I still can be so unforgiving of myself. Hmmmm. If I can’t turn my tide of “discontent” about my body, behaviors or thoughts – am I really doing it for others? Quite a quandary and absolutely worth pondering. Thank so much for the post. big hugs and deep love

    • Turning the love inward is often the biggest challenge for me. Loving my neighbor or an opposing politician? No problem. Loving my soft belly? Not so much. And as you point out, my stinginess with my own self love calls into question the authenticity of the love I shine elsewhere. Where else am I withholding. Thanks for being part of the conversation, Joy! xo

  2. Elisabeth Sloan said:

    A very timely subject. Yesterday, I had two “hating” moments. I was a carpool driver for a group of teenage girls. When my daughter and I arrived at the meeting place no one was there. Then, we waited and waited. No one came. Then my daughter realized that the car parked there was one of the other girl’s, so we realized that they all must of gone in one car and not told us. We had an hour and fifteen minute drive ahead of us. I was so angry. I hated that other parent. Then when I got to where we were going, I continued to hate that parent, who was parked nearby. Susan’s comments helped me to realize that I was really afraid that I had done something wrong, and my emotions were triggered by fear. I let my hate and anger spill out all around me and into the rest of my afternoon. So, who gets hurt by this? Me. My bad mood followed me around into a conversation with a friend where I went on to share negative talk about an old acquaintance. Again, no doubt fear and insecurity raising its ugly head! Had this old friend stopped being friendly to me, because I was not “cool” enough?

    I love Susan’s image of the Budda, or a Saint, sitting down with me. Already, just with this image my reaction changes. I am free to leave condemnation and my fear, and turn towards these fellow human beings with compassion. It feels so much better. Thanks Susan!!

    • Oh, Elisabeth, you are welcome. For me, too, I can feel the wave of anger or emotion and it can take some real energy to pause and consider another perspective. Mostly, as you point out, I am afraid of either making a mistake and hurting someone or being excluded/left out or unloved. And the more I can remember the “throwing the coals” image and invite my Buddha to come remind me that I am loved and all is well, the more I can let it go and frankly, be happier and feel better. Thank you so much for being in it with me!

  3. Pam said:

    Always enjoy your blog – especially today – can take your words and thoughts to work towards more awareness and compassion along with thoughtfulness (of myself as well as others). Also great routine this morning – loved the imagery. Left class feeling energized and refreshed. My favorite part was having the confetti rain down on me at the end…..

  4. Ahhh! Glad you enjoyed it. I love me some imaginary confetti (the real stuff has to get cleaned up!).

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