How to break free from hate and move on

How to break free from hate and move on


Hate is a natural reaction to trying to regain esteem or power, but obsessive hatred is a harmful feeling. Breaking free is essential to our well-being.

“She had hurt me so much that I hated her with a passion.” “I was obsessed with this betrayal and couldn't see anything else.”

Hate stands out from other aggressive reactions. It combines a hostility towards a person or a group and a resentment that feeds it. We judge the other severely, we lend him malicious intentions. Sometimes, we dehumanize the other, we denigrate them, we ridicule them or we wish them ill. 

Hatred is often associated with a personal affront (insult, rejection, humiliation) or a sense of victimhood (mistreated, oppressed). Slights and frustrations make our brain circuits of self-esteem hypersensitive. We want to regain esteem or power. Hatred aims to obtain reparation, justice or revenge. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is an important precept of the ancient codes of justice. 

We like to judge and hate even when our esteem is not at stake. Simple testimonies can make us hate strangers if they make us empathize with the victims and increase our mistrust, our fears or our prejudices towards these strangers . Group hatred is often the result of shared frustration or indignation (e.g. they speak too loudly). These reactions polarize groups, creating allies (Us) and enemies (Them) that inspire mistrust and contempt. Hate speech has a high impact because it fuels our insecurities and feelings of victimhood. They provide new excuses to judge others harshly, which fosters prejudice and conflict.

Hate stresses and disturbs us 

Conflict is part of a normal social choreography that allows everyone to take their place, influence, be listened to and defend themselves . You can try to mitigate conflict through diplomacy or silence, but it doesn't always work.

Although hatred is natural, in the long run it can easily become an overwhelming obsession and damage our mental health and that of others. It makes us ruminate and look for new reasons to hate. It perpetuates conflict. It prevents us from thinking calmly and prioritizing the common good. 

Close up and regain esteem

After an affront, it takes time, comfort and esteem to heal our wounds, calm our insecurity and our hatred.  

Transient hatred diminishes when we become aware of the good sides of the other. When we care about each other, we can find excuses to resume interactions, such as common interests (children, work, etc.) or sources of joy (parties, successes, etc.). Even common challenges or enemies (weather, traffic, government) can bring us together.

When a lasting hatred haunts us, when we have suffered and brooded a lot, it is more difficult to get away from it. We have often developed insecurities, we have become more susceptible or more sensitive to lack of respect.  

To quit, we must remember what increases our self-esteem. Do activities that we master well or easy things on our list. Helping others (mentoring, volunteering) is also an excellent source of esteem. It reminds us of our talents and our social role. We must also comfort ourselves with human warmth, companionship or affection.

Our hatred is a storm that wants to take control of our brain. Let's remember the other things that are important and that bring us well-being.