Things are heavy right now. Author Caroline Myss explained in a recent interview that we often insist we need a reason to feel positive. Lately, it’s sometimes hard to find a reason. Many of my friends are admitting to feeling more negative than usual. I get that.
I had an odd and disturbing realization about my own negativity. I recognized I was using the word “hate” excessively. So, I decided, for the sake of this blog, to record how many times in one day I uttered that word. I gave up after announcing it three times in just one hour. Wow!
I’ve been declaring my hatred of the big things that dominate our lives. “I hate this virus,” I might say. “I hate the racial injustices in our society and the animosity playing out on social media.” Well, of course. Those could go without saying. But I’ve also been declaring my hatred of the little things, too: “I hate this stupid landline. I hate these dull knives. I hate cans that are impossible to open.”
I’ve been heaping hate on myself and others. I’ve been known lately to hate the weather, the road construction, the loud motorcycles that cut off my conversations and ruin my sleep. I’m quick to hate glitches in technology and the constant string of spam calls hitting my cell phone.
I probably hated many of those things before the stress of the past six months, but I feel like I hate some of them more now. That’s not healthy. And it’s not productive or creative or inspired. And it’s not me. At least I hope it’s not.
So, I’ve been catching myself. I may start to say I hate it when the broccoli is overcooked, and then I remind myself that mushy or not, it’s a healthy choice for my body. I may start to say I hate the smoke from the local wildfire, and then I remind myself how lucky I am not to be in its path, and I send love out to those who’ve lost homes and businesses to the flames. I’m trying to squash my future hates before they even arrive. No more saying, “I’m going to hate it when the cold weather drives us all back inside.” And I’m ridding myself of my past hates. No more mulling over how much I hated that annoying webinar last week.
“It’s not nice to hate,” our mothers told us, and they were right, of course, but it’s human to have the feeling. That’s why they needed to tell us in the first place. But I believe all our feelings are meant to teach us something, if we choose to accept the lesson.
It’s lazy and cruel simply to hate. It does damage to us and everyone else. So now when I feel that inkling of hate, when I hear myself say the word, I catch myself. I take a moment to reflect and to dig for what other emotions lie below my statement. I ask myself what’s true about what I’ve said and what is the cumulation of other negative emotions like fear, worry, anger, frustration, insecurity, resentment, or grief.
I’m not going to hate myself for saying hate more lately. That’s clearly counterproductive. Though I’m sincerely working to improve, there’s a part of me that’s kind of glad I’ve identified so many things I hate in these past few months, because now I’m thinking about them. I’m wondering how I contribute to those problems or how I could improve them by adjusting my behavior or attitude. I’m wondering what more I need to learn or experience to help usher in compassionate change. I’m wondering what actions I can take in my community to foster growth and peace. I’m trusting and hoping I can transform the hate to create something that will help spread love and light, or at least comfort and healing.
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