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Overcoming Hatred

Chapter 6: Overcoming Hatred

Tools for Anger Work-Out

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


How does my behavior reflect hatred?

When I hate a person or a group of people, I:

  • harbor the most extreme level of anger possible against them.
  • ignore and avoid them; they don't exist for me.
  • am easily aggravated by their behavior, looks, or attitudes.
  • get agitated when I think about them; it gets worse when I am in their presence.
  • have an antagonistic attitude toward them.
  • find myself being cruel, vicious, vindictive, or revengeful with them.
  • exhibit inflamed, incensed, ill-tempered, or disagreeable behavior if the topic of conversation turns to them.
  • become rude, belligerent, combative, enraged, or intolerant with them.
  • act bigoted, prejudiced, callous, insensitive, or malicious toward them.
  • fantasize murderous, violent, bloodthirsty, inhuman, sadistic ideas about them.
  • become dogmatic, critical, malicious, and severe in my judgment and statements about them.
  • look unfriendly, unfeeling, unlikable, unmerciful, sullen, sulky, or spiteful whenever I talk to or about them.
  • become enraged, wrathful, and piqued when I hear their name mentioned in any positive way.
  • find myself being cold, distant, aloof, uncaring, and obstinate in my discussions with them or about them.
  • act offended, opposed, provoked, or irritated when they speak to me.
  • deliberately misunderstand them.


What causes my hatred?

My hatred toward a person or a group of people is rooted in my belief that they have:

  • treated me unfairly or abused me.
  • acted in such a way that my future success was imperiled or adversely affected.
  • unjustly accused me of wrong doing.
  • laid a guilt trip on me, preventing me from taking care of myself in a healthy way.
  • never given me a chance to be my own person and to feel good about myself.
  • adversely affected my personal development and contributed to my lowered self-esteem and self-worth.
  • said things about me that I can't forgive or forget.
  • acted in such a way that my resentment and rage are the only possible responses.
  • exhibit qualities, behavior patterns, or characteristics that have great physical or emotional danger to me.
  • a horrible reputation, stigma, or myth about them that is hard to refute or disprove.
  • something better than what I have and are unwilling to share it with me.
  • had life easier than I, they haven't had to work as hard as I to survive.
  • no desire to help me reach material or emotional success in life.
  • wretched, vile, loathsome personalities that breed misery and pain for me.
  • attacked my reputation or honor, in reality or imagination.
  • been obstinate, unwilling to submit to my control, power, supervision, or guidance.
  • been a threat, either real or imagined, to my sense of security, well?being, and contentment.
  • never understood my needs and have ignored me because of this.
  • never given me approval, recognition, or reinforcement for the good person that I am.
  • only pointed out my failures.
  • betrayed the trust and faith I once placed in them.
  • been the underlying reasons for my unhappiness today.
  • been controlling, manipulative, sneaky, ruthless, and scheming in their dealings with me.
  • hostile, hateful, and hypercritical ways of dealing with me.
  • been power mad in their attempts to control me.

What are some examples of my hatred?


1. My hatred toward individuals is reflected in the following statements:

  • I could never be “good” enough for him.
  • No matter how hard I tried, I never felt her love.
  • I was abused (physically, verbally, or emotionally) by him.
  • She abandoned me long ago.
  • He lied, cheated, and stole from me.
  • Her lust for other men was insatiable; I was left alone.
  • I still feel the pain of her rejection.
  • If he had done what I asked him to do in the first place this wouldn't be happening to me now.
  • She deserves everything she has coming to her. It couldn't have happened to a “nicer” person.
  • I am this way because of the way she treated me.


2. My hatred toward groups of people are reflected in the following statements:

  • They are all just alike: No good!
  • You can't trust any of them.
  • They only want to use, abuse, and then discard you.
  • They are what is keeping our country from being great.
  • If you give them an inch they'll take a mile.
  • You can never turn your back on them.
  • They all have it so much easier then I do; they don't deserve it.
  • Their one goal in life is to control others.
  • They always win no matter what; why play the game.

What are some negative effects of my hatred?

Because of my hatred toward a person or group of people, I find that I am:

  • never fully happy or content.
  • bitter and cold toward almost everybody in my life.
  • not sought out by others to be a friend.
  • socially isolated and lonely.
  • caustic, hostile, sarcastic, and cynical.
  • embittered, saddened, and desolate a good part of the time.
  • lacking in enthusiasm, energy, and spontaneity in my daily life.
  • cold, distant, and aloof in my dealings with others.
  • mistrusting, paranoid, and suspicious in my relationships.
  • stuck in my quest for healthy self-esteem.
  • guilty over the negative feelings that I can't let go of.
  • easily provoked to anger and my hot buttons are pushed when the person or group of people I hate is mentioned in any positive way.
  • wasteful in the expenditure of my emotional energy by venting my chronic negative feelings.
  • prone to over-compensate by behaving in a completely opposite way from those I hate.
  • unable to get on with my life; I tend to dwell on or blame everything on my past.
  • touchy, highly emotional, or overly sensitive when my hateful behavior is pointed out to me.
  • defensive about my right to hold on to my hateful beliefs.
  • more focused on those I hate than on myself and my personal growth.
  • closed to the suggestion to forgive and forget the past and get on with the present.
  • prone to lose sight of my personal power and my ability to chose what I want to feel or do.
  • overwhelmed by my bitterness and anger.
  • unable to be optimistic.
  • unwilling to believe that it is my choice to feel hatred.
  • stubborn, unwilling to accept that often people have done the best that they could knowing what they did at the time.
What irrational thinking contributes to my hatred?
  • They should have known better.
  • No one should have to go through what I have in my lifetime.
  • They should have known how badly they were making me feel.
  • He should not have been so mean to me.
  • She should not have left me the way she did.
  • I should have been recognized for all the good things I did.
  • He should not have been so manipulative with me.
  • She should have done the things I told her to do.
  • They should have recognized my goodness, talent, competency, and worth and told me so.
  • What good is it to forgive and forget the past now?
  • I will never trust another human being again.
  • My life should be easier than it is.
  • If only I had had good luck and the benefits of others, e.g., education, money, good looks, I would be a happy person.
  • No matter how hard a person works he will never change his fate.
  • I am always taken advantage of and always end up a loser in relationships.
  • All _______ are bad. (Parents, men, women, children, Jews, blacks, Italians, Arabs, psychologists, doctors, lawyers, car salesmen, insurance companies, or your personal object of hate.)


How can I overcome my hatred?To overcome my hatred of a person or group of people I need to:

  • assess my hatred: is it based on what is real or on what is imagined.
  • determine if the person or group of people intentionally set out to hurt, abuse, neglect, or mistreat me.
  • analyze whether or not the person or group of people knew how negatively I was being affected by them.
  • identify what relevant facts were lacking for the person or group of persons in their dealings with me.
  • analyze what my thinking was like at the time I was being mistreated.
  • identify the irrational component of my thinking about this mistreatment and replace it with more rational and realistic thinking.
  • perform anger work-out sessions until I have exhausted my hatred to the point where I can forgive and forget the past.
  • admit that even if a person set out to hurt me, knowing full well how badly I would feel, it does me no good to harbor this hatred. It exhausts my emotional energy. I need to let go of it and get on with my life.

Steps to overcoming hatred

Step 1: I first need to read The Hatred Parable, then answer the questions regarding the story in my journal.

The Hatred Parable

There once was an alcoholic father and mother who had two lovely daughters. One daughter was bitter over the way her parents had treated her and her sister, so when she was eighteen she left home to get a job and live in an apartment. The other daughter, who was ten at the time, stayed home until she was twenty-two. Then she married, and she and her husband moved into the house next to her parents.


The first daughter lived alone, and on her own but in her hometown for six years before she married. After she married, however, she moved far away from her parents. Unfortunately, this daughter married an alcoholic, and the marriage ended sadly after four years. The woman lived alone for years thereafter, filled with hatred toward her parents for ruining her life. She had not been prepared for marriage to a healthy person, and that's why she inadvertently sought out an alcoholic for a husband. She was also filled with hatred toward men. She felt that men held all the power and control and were content to treat women like slaves.


Several years after her divorce she was living alone 1500 miles from her parents and sister. It had been fifteen years since she left home. Her younger sister had been married for three years by this time and was still living with her husband next door to the parents. The older sister was dealing with her hatred toward both her parents and men. As part of her therapeutic work toward self-healing she was to write two letters, one to her parents and the other to her younger sister.


The older sister wrote and told her parents that she forgave them for the past because she recognized that alcoholism was a disease that had prevented her parents from doing what would have been ideal. She asked her parents to visit her in the big city so she could show them the side of her life hidden from them for the past fifteen years.


In the letter to her younger sister she wrote that she had been jealous of the approval and attention given to the younger daughter by the parents. She asked her sister how she could limit her potential by getting married so young. Didn't she know that being a slave to a man was no life for a woman? Wasn't she afraid that her husband would turn out like Dad? Didn't she feel that she deserved more out of life than being controlled by a man and winding up a nursemaid to Mom and Dad. The older sister asked her younger sister to come visit her in the big city to see the good life that was possible for a single woman.


Back home, the two letters were received, read, and shared by the parents and the younger sister. They were confused by the double messages. The older daughter was saying on one hand, I've given up my hatred, but on the other hand her bitterness and hatred jumped off the page. How were they going to respond to the older daughter? What would be the right thing to say? They decided simply to ignore the letters, hoping that the older daughter would communicate a clearer idea of what she really wanted from them.


  • Which sister is more like you?
  • What good did blaming her parents do for the older sister? What good did blaming her divorced husband do?
  • What are some possible reasons for the older sister's choice of husband?
  • What did it benefit the older sister to get out of the family's house?
  • What difference would it have made to this story if we knew both parents were recovered alcoholics at the time the letters were written?
  • What type of man did the younger sister probably marry? What role models did her mother and older sister offer her as a wife?
  • What feelings did the younger sister have about her older sister when she realized that she had been abandoned by her at ten years of age? How did these feelings affect their relationship? How did these feelings affect her choice of spouse? How did these feelings affect her relationship with her parents?
  • How well did the older sister overcome her hatred as reflected in her letters? What was wrong? What still needed to be worked on? What was lacking in her letters?
  • How often do I think I've overcome my hatred until someone points out the inconsistency in my thinking, feelings, or behavior?
  • What does this story tell me about overcoming my hatred?

Step 2: After reading the story and answering the questions, I need to identify the person or persons for whom I feel hatred. For each one I need to answer these questions in my journal:

  • I feel hatred for:
  • I hate this person because:
  • This person's behavior toward me resulted in:
  • How real are these events? When did they occur? Is this a perception, an assumption, or just imagined? If it is reality, continue to Step 3.


Step 3: Once I've identified an item of real hatred, I need to work at overcoming the hatred by answering the following questions about each hated person in my journal:

  • How well informed was this hated person about the effects of the hated action on me?
  • What did this person need to know in order to prevent affecting me negatively?
  • What blocked this person from knowing what would have been good for me?
  • What is my thinking like in dealing with this hated person? How rational is my thinking? What rational replacements do I need?


Step 4: I must perform anger work-out sessions for each hated person until I can let go of my hatred and forgive and forget.

I need to forgive each person for hurting me. This will allow the release of my energy, get me unstuck, and move me on toward health.


Step 5: If I am unable to release my hatred for a person, or group, I will return to Step 1 and begin again.