HATRED

I. WHAT IS HATRED?

Definition. Hatred is a special type of attitude. It is a deep aversion or revulsion. In this sense, it is a running away from something in a very profound way. It is also an ego trait that is very common in human beings.

This attitude of aversion or revulsion can occur on any of the seven levels of human functioning:

1. Physical aversion

2. Emotional aversion

3. Mental aversion

4. Social aversion

5. Work or career-related aversion

6. Wisdom-level aversion

7. Spiritual aversion

Hatred is a way to shut down the mind to a degree, in order to handle overwhelming stress or trauma. One simply says “No” to the situation or person, and this revulsion or rejectionis called hatred. In this regard, hatred is always a generalization and a false conclusion.

Another word for it may beprejudice, which takes a few incidents or qualities of a person, a group or something else and then generalizes from it. Hatred is of this nature.

Our minds are designed to reason inductively. This means we can take a few facts, and we can generalize and draw conclusions based upon them. This is an important mental faculty. However, if the faculty is not well balanced with deductive reasoning and wisdom, which is a quality of doubting, confirming and re-affirming our conclusions, we often end up with judgment and then it turns easily to strong aversion or hatred.

Hatred is therefore a hardening of the mind and spirit in a direction of revulsion.

DETACHING EMOTIONALLY IS THE OPPOSITE OF HATRED

In one sense, the opposite of hatred is not love. It is mental and emotional detachment. Hatred attaches you to the thing or person you hate. This is a very important principle of hatred. Hatred is so strong an aversion that it creates a rebound effect in the person in some sense that attracts the person back to the thing or item hated in order to be averse to it over and over. In this sense, it is like resentment – to feelagain and again – from the Latin root of the word

The ego and hatred. Hatred, like resentment, can feel like candy in the mouth. It has a sweetness about it because it builds up the ego and makes you feel very superior to the thing or one that is hated. After all, you would never do or be like that which you hate, so you are therefore superior. This is the way the ego puffs itself up with hatred, as it does with resentment.

The only difference is that resentment is more of a feeling inside, as is anger, whereas hatred is more of a mental attitude rather than an emotional feeling. Indeed, hatred is devoid of feeling, often.

It is just a silent undercurrent, often a sullen, depressed, withdrawn aspect of the self that one carries around all the time, no matter what. This is the nature of hatred.

HOW IS HATRED DIFFERENT FROM DISLIKING SOMEONE OR SOMETHING?

Dislike is a preference. Hatred is a fixed aversion or attitude that is a final judgment, as it were, upon someone else or some-thing. Dislike is often the result of discernment, (a very necessary thinking process), while hatred is a judgment. Dislike is okay and does not cause disease and projection. Hatred always involves some projection of guilt, and always causes disease in oneself and war with others.

CAN YOU HATE YOURSELF?

Definitely. In fact, this always goes along with hating anything else. Indeed, correcting your self-hatred is the best way to start letting go of hatred of others. It also works the other way around. It you can stop hating all others, often you will also stop hating yourself.

ALL HATRED IS MENTAL ILLNESS AND HAS VERY BAD CONSEQUENCES

Hatred is a form of neurosis, fixation, reversal and judgment. All of these words describe a type of mental illness that is always harmful for oneself and for others. If persisted in, it always leads to war with others and to disease in the body.

HATRED IS FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE, EVIL WITH MORE EVIL

This is important to see, feel and understand. Hating is just doling out more of the same thing that you do not like in others, or in the world. “He hurt me, so I will hate him”. That is the motto of the hater. It does not work.

A better approach is “He hurt me, so I will not hate him back. I will love and forgive as best I can”. This is fighting fire with water, which is far more effective.

Forgiving does not mean to go along. In fact, it is never going along. Forgiving means to refrain from judging and hating, and then to take whatever action is needed in the situation.

II. GETTING RID OF HATRED

Here are some steps to letting go of hatred:

1. See or admit that you have some hatred. You cannot get rid of it if you will not admit it is there, at least to some degree. Listen to others who tell you about your anger and hatred. Do not ignore this counsel.

2. Try to catch yourself in your anger and hatred. This is tricky to do, as the mind will often disguise it with excuses or offhand phrases like “he’s really such a jerk”. Using foul language to describe someone or something is a way that many people subtly express hatred, by the way.

3. When you catch yourself in these phrases, words or actions, stop yourself, realizing it is wrong and it just feeds your hatred and anger. Ask others in your life to assist you with this, and do not hate them for pointing out your tendency or your words.

The hater’s response is to simply say that others are “out to get you”, “trying to control you” or similar ideas. Stay away from this tendency to project or blame others who point out your anger and hatred.

4. Instead of falling to the temptation to hate and judge, work on describing the person or situation in rational, mature, adult language. Do not just curse at him or it, and do not gloss over bad behavior, for example in the manner of the Stockholm syndrome. In the latter, bad behaviors viewed as okay in order that one should not feel too uncomfortable.

5. Take action rather than harbor hatred. Do what needs to be done, preferably in an even-handed and open-minded way. Learn how to “be strong, but not wrong” to quote Mr. Roy Masters. Do what you must do in the situation if someone has wronged you, for example.

6. One must often do a form of active or power prayer – the pushing down exercise – in order to catch oneself in subtle hatreds. If you keep doing this exercise, hatreds will be brought up gently for you to look at them and let them go.

7. A final step is asking the Creator or God to intervene in your life and remove your hatred, as it is something that most people cannot do on their own. This is how deep and how difficult hatred is to remove from the minds of most people.

III. OTHER RELATED TOPICS

PREVENTING HATE FROM TAKING HOLD IN YOU.

This can be difficult, especially if you experience rape, murder in your family, severe illness, or other crimes or unexplainable events. The mind simply does not tolerate these very well and looks for ways to judge them and put them in little cubbyholes called hatreds.

Christian thinking can help. This is a type of mental efforting that emphasizes forgiveness in the moment. Having wise and mature parents and older adults around you at all times is also extremely helpful. Another help is reading the Bible or other spiritual books that openly discuss the evils of harboring negative thoughts and feelings toward others.

EXAMPLES OF HATRED IN THE PUBLIC ARENA

Common examples of hatreds are prejudices against black people, Hebrew people, Catholics, or the common hatred today of the Bible and all religion. Others hate anyone who believes differently in any way than they do.

Politically, many people secretly hate freedom and do not trust the common man to make decisions for himself. This is called elitism, and it is a form of hatred of the commoner. In times past, this was obvious as the “upper classes” literally thumbed their noses at the “unwashed masses of the people”, feeling they were worse than dirt and did not deserve any rights.

That idea is less prevalent today, but it lingers on in the systems of government called social democracy,socialism and communism.

TEACHING CHILDREN TO HATE

Hatred is taught to some children. The tendency or fact of teaching children to hate things is a horrible mistake on the part of parents, teachers and other adults in a child’s life. Hatred is not necessary, and just hardens the personality and eventually sickens the body.

HATRED MAY BE THE RESULT OF POORLY DEVELOPED BOUNDARIES OF THE PERSONALITY

If one is not sure of one’s boundaries and identity, it is difficult to separate oneself from others. One becomes enmeshed, as it were, with others and this is very uncomfortable and often unacceptable to the personality.

Hatred is one way to forcefully separate yourself from others, or from ideas and concepts that one wishes to separate from.

Another way to say this is that if one is not properly attached to or clearly dependent upon and in touch with the Creator or Source, one will tend to go back and forth attaching and running away from other people, objects, and situations.

In other words, hating someone or something is a quick way to detach, or seemingly so – to erect a boundary for yourself from others or from a situation.

Also, the deeper one feels, the more difficult it can be to establish good boundaries, and therefore the more likely one may go into hatred. Perhaps this is why some women become hateful, as they often feel more deeply than many men. However, this is a generalization thatis not true for all, certainly.

SPIRITUAL ASPECTS OF HATRED

Hating God. Many people today hate God. Reasons for this are:

1. They experienced an illness, an accident, or something else in which they feel God disappointed them or betrayed them.

2. They asked God for help with a problem, but nothing happened.

3. They don’t agree with something in the Bible or something about organized religion, and this leads them to hate the entire concept of God.

This is understandable. However, my experience as a doctor is that hating God leads to disease, in all cases, because it is the same as hating yourself. God is not someone outside of you. We have our being in God.

If you do not see or feel or understand the idea of God, just leave it alone. Do not hate it for any reason, as this tends to backfire.

THE POWER OF LOVE

Love is the best antidepressant—but many of our ideas about it are wrong. The less love you have, the more depressed you are likely to feel.

Love is as critical for your mind and body as oxygen. It’s not negotiable. The more connected you are, the healthier you will be both physically and emotionally. The less connected you are, the more you are at risk.

It is also true that the less love you have, the more depression you are likely to experience in your life. Love is probably the best antidepressant there is because one of the most common sources of depression is feeling unloved. Most depressed people don’t love themselves and they do not feel loved by others. They also are very self-focused, making them less attractive to others and depriving them of opportunities to learn the skills of love.

There is a mythology in our culture that love just happens. As a result, the depressed often sit around passively waiting for someone to love them. But love doesn’t work that way. To get love and keep love you have to go out and be active and learn a variety of specific skills.

Most of us get our ideas of love from popular culture. We come to believe that love is something that sweeps us off our feet. But the pop-culture ideal of love consists of unrealistic images created for entertainment, which is one reason so many of us are set up to be depressed. It’s part of our national vulnerability, like eating junk food, constantly stimulated by images of instant gratification. We think it is love when it’s simply distraction and infatuation.

One consequence is that when we hit real love we become upset and disappointed because there are many things that do not fit the cultural ideal. Some of us get demanding and controlling, wanting someone else to do what we think our ideal of romance should be, without realizing our ideal is misplaced.

It is not only possible but necessary to change one’s approach to love to ward off depression. Follow these action strategies to get more of what you want out of life—to love and be loved.

  • Recognize the difference between limerance and love. Limerance is the psychological state of deep infatuation. It feels good but rarely lasts. Limerance is that first stage of mad attraction whereby all thehormones are flowing and things feel so right. Limerance lasts, on average, six months. It can progress to love. Love mostly starts out as limerance, but limerance doesn’t always evolve into love.
  • Know that love is a learned skill, not something that comes from hormones or emotion particularly. Erich Fromm called it “an act of will.” If you don’t learn the skills of love you virtually guarantee that you will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but because you will have many failure experiences.
  • Learn good communication skills. They are a means by which you develop trust and intensify connection. The more you can communicate the less depressed you will be because you will feel known and understood.

There are always core differences between two people, no matter how good or close you are, and if the relationship is going right those differences surface. The issue then is to identify the differences and negotiate them so that they don’t distance you or kill the relationship.

You do that by understanding where the other person is coming from, who that person is, and by being able to represent yourself. When the differences are known you must be able to negotiate and compromise on them until you find a common ground that works for both.

  • Focus on the other person. Rather than focus on what you are getting and how you are being treated, read your partner’s need. What does this person really need for his/her own well-being? This is a very tough skill for people to learn in our narcissisticculture. Of course, you don’t lose yourself in the process; you make sure you’re also doing enough self-care.
  • Help someone else. Depression keeps people so focused on themselves they don’t get outside themselves enough to be able to learn to love. The more you can focus on others and learn to respond and meet their needs, the better you are going to do in love.
  • Develop the ability to accommodate simultaneous reality. The loved one’s reality is as important as your own, and you need to be as aware of it as of your own. What are they really saying, what are they really needing? Depressed people think the only reality is their own depressed reality.
  • Actively dispute your internal messages of inadequacy. Sensitivity to rejection is a cardinal feature of depression. As a consequence of low self-esteem, every relationship blip is interpreted far too personally as evidence of inadequacy. Quick to feel rejected by a partner, you then believe it is the treatment you fundamentally deserve. But the rejection really originates in you, and the feelings of inadequacy are the depression speaking.

Recognize that the internal voice is strong but it’s not real. Talk back to it. “I’m not really being rejected, this isn’t really evidence of inadequacy. I made a mistake.” Or “this isn’t about me, this is something I just didn’t know how to do and now I’ll learn.” When you reframe the situation to something more adequate, you can act again in an effective way and you can find and keep the love that you need.

THE DEADLY TRUTH ABOUT LONELINESS

Almost all of us have experienced loneliness at some point. It is the pain we have felt following a breakup, perhaps the loss of a loved one, or a move away from home. We are vulnerable to feeling lonely at any point in our lives.

Loneliness is commonly used to describe a negative emotional state experienced when there is a difference between the relationships one wishes to have and those one perceives one has.

The unpleasant feelings of loneliness are subjective; researchers have found loneliness is not about the amount of time one spends with other people or alone. It is related more to quality of relationships, rather than quantity. A lonely person feels that he or she is not understood by others, and may not think they hold meaningful relationships.

For some people, loneliness may be temporary and easily relieved (such as a close friend moving away, or a spouse returning home after a work trip). For others, loneliness cannot be easily resolved (such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a marriage) and can persist when one does not have access to people to connect with.

From an evolutionary point of view, our reliance on social groups has ensured our survival as a species. Hence loneliness can be seen as a signal to connect with others. This makes it little different to hunger, thirst or physical pain, which signal the need to eat, drink or seek medical attention.

In affluent modern societies, however, turning off the alarm signals for loneliness has become more difficult than satisfying hunger, thirst or the need to see the doctor. For those who are not surrounded by people who care for them, loneliness can persist.

Researchers have found social isolation is a risk factor for disease and premature death. Findings from a recent review of multiple studies indicated that a lack of social connection poses a similar risk of early death to physical indicators such as obesity.

Loneliness is a risk factor for many physical health difficulties, from fragmented sleepand dementia to lower cardiovascular output.

Some individuals may also be biologically vulnerable to feeling lonely. Evidence from twin studies found that loneliness may be partly heritable.

Multiple studies have focused on how loneliness can be a result of certain gene types combined with particular social or environmental factors (such as parental support).

Loneliness has largely been ignored as a condition of concern in mental health. Researchers have yet to fully understand the extent of how loneliness affects mental health. Most studies of loneliness and mental health have focused solely on how loneliness relates to depression.

Although loneliness and depression are partly related, they are different. Loneliness refers specifically to negative feelings about the social world, whereas depression refers to a more general set of negative feelings.

In a study that measured loneliness in older adults over a five-year period, loneliness predicted depression, but the reverse was not true.

Addressing loneliness

Loneliness may be mistaken as a depressive symptom, or perhaps it is assumed that loneliness will go away once depressive symptoms are addressed. Generally, “lonely” people are encouraged to join a group or make a new friend, on the assumption that loneliness will then simply go away.

While creating opportunities to connect with others provides a platform for social interaction, relieving the social pain is not so straightforward. Lonely people can have misgivings about social situations and as a result show rejecting behaviours. These can be misconstrued as unfriendliness, and people around the lonely person respond accordingly. This is how loneliness can become a persistent cycle.

A study examined the effectiveness of different types of treatments aimed at addressing loneliness. The results indicated that treatments that focused on changing negative thinking about others were more effective than those that provided opportunities for social interaction.

Another promising way to tackle loneliness is to improve the quality of our relationships, specifically by building intimacy with those around us. Using a positive psychology approach that focuses on increasing positive emotions within relationships or increasing social behaviours may encourage deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

Indeed, even individuals who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness have reported improvements in their well-being and relationships after sharing positive emotions and doing more positive activitieswith others. However, research using a positive psychology approach to loneliness remains in its infancy.

We continue to underestimate the lethality of loneliness as a serious public health issue. Contemporary tools such as social media, while seeming to promote social connection, favour brief interactions with many acquaintances over the development of fewer but more meaningful relationships. In this climate, the challenge is to address loneliness and focus on building significant bonds with those around us.

The growing scientific evidence highlighting the negative consequences of loneliness for physical and mental health can no longer be ignored.

THE ART OF FORGIVENESS

Holding a grudge? Here are seven tipsto make peace with others and move on.

Some people can easily forgive others, but for most people, forgiveness takes some preparation and effort. The good news is anyone can improve their forgiveness skills. Frederic Luskin, PhD, director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project at Stanford University, likens the process to mastering a sport: “If you practice forgiveness, you get better at it. And professionals can teach you skills that help you do it even better.”

Here are some pointers to help you get started:

Lay the groundwork. Robert Enright, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and cofounder of the International Forgiveness Institute, recommends first taking some time to explore your anger. Have you faced your anger, or have you avoided dealing with it? How has the anger affected you, mentally and physically? Have you been obsessing over the grievance or the offender? Has the situation caused a permanent change in your life or the way you view the world? Enright suggests writing about these issues in a journal. Set aside time each day (10 or 15 minutes) for that purpose, but don’t pressure yourself to write a certain amount. Just keep up the daily writing until you’ve answered the questions to your satisfaction.

Don’t rush the process. “Forgiveness should be a joyous gift, not a grim obligation,” Enright says. If you try to force it, you’ll just end up feeling pressured – and perhaps guilty if you’re unable to follow through. Set your intention to forgive, and then do it at your own pace, knowing it might take days, weeks or months. If you find you aren’t making any headway after months of focused intention and exercise, you might want to consider working toward acceptance rather than forgiveness. Like forgiveness, “acceptance is a life-affirming, authentic response,” says clinical psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD. Acceptance involves making a thoughtful decision to face what has happened and deal with it in a way that’s in your best interest – even if you feel that true forgiveness is not an option. You can still stop obsessing over the hurt and move on with your life.

Change your story. Do you have a longstanding “grievance story” that you constantly repeat to yourself and others? “A grievance story typically describes how somebody else ruined your life,” Luskin says. “And it’s not true. In reality, somebody else did something painful or difficult. Then you didn’t handle it well.” Turn your grievance story into a hero story that focuses on what you did to recover from or cope with the situation. “By shifting from ‘poor me’ to ‘here’s what I did,’ you no longer cast yourself in the role of victim,” he says.

Focus on here and now. You may feel upset about something that happened in the past, but what’s distressing you at this very moment are the feelings, thoughts, and physical reactions you’re having right now, Luskin points out. Actively calming the body and mind for even six to 10 seconds can help short circuit your ongoing stress response, he says. His suggestion: Take a few moments to “breathe deeply, pray, look at something beautiful or remember how much you love someone.”

Make it about you. You might have a chance to tell the person who hurt you that you forgive him or her. Or you might not. You might receive heartfelt gratitude and reconciliation in return. Or you might not. Regardless, Luskin says, you can still choose to forgive. The aim is to find peace for yourself, with or without the offender’s help. Whatever the outcome, you can still free up the personal energy you’re spending on holding a grudge and begin using it for more constructive purposes.

Take baby steps. “You wouldn’t walk into a weight room for the first time and try to lift 300 pounds. You’d work your way up to that heavier weight gradually,” Luskin says. The same principle holds true when learning to forgive. “Don’t start with the worst thing that ever happened to you,” he advises. “Begin with something smaller, and work up.”

Have elastic expectations. Forgiveness won’t necessarily erase all your pain. “When somebody has deliberately betrayed you, and something reminds you about what that person has done, it’s natural to still feel hurt or resentment or even spasms of hate,” Spring says. “Forgiveness doesn’t mean you lose all negative feelings forever. But it does mean that the hurt is no longer center stage.”

Forgiveness is best regarded as an evolution rather than a one-time event. Especially for egregious offenses, you may need to revisit the process repeatedly, but it should get easier each time. Eventually, you’ll realize that your feelings about the other person’s choices and behavior have changed in a deep and abiding way. That’s when you’ll know you’ve learned to forgive for good.

DON’T LET A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE RUIN YOUR LIFE

Attitude is everything, for better or worse. The way you perceive and explain the world has a powerful effect on the results you obtain. A negative attitude is almost a guarantee that life will be more difficult and less fulfilling than it should be. Further, a pessimistic outlook will adversely affect your health, relationships, and professional growth. Learn how a negative mindset develops and the steps you can take to transform it.

How Does a Negative Attitude Develop?
A pessimist is one who continually experiences people and circumstances in unpleasant ways. Although some research indicates that negativity is a stable aspect of temperament, most therapists believe there is a learned component that is reinforced by habit. A child with high sensitivity to physical and emotional discomfort may be predisposed to develop a negative attitude, for example. However, environment strongly influences the course of his development and will either reinforce this tendency, or teach him more realistic ways to view the world.

Not everyone with a negative attitude is born that way. Since negativity is a learned response, it can be taught to an otherwise content child. A parent with a negative attitude is modeling this way of thinking, and the child learns by example to be pessimistic.

Life experiences can also teach you to expect the worst from people and situations. A history of trauma, abuse, or failure in spite of your best efforts may train you to anticipate negative outcomes.

It should be noted that clinical depression can also affect your perspective, making an otherwise optimistic person more inclined to interpret experiences in a negative way. If this scenario applies to your situation, seek the guidance of a qualified health care professional. Medication is sometimes necessary to correct the chemical imbalances associated with depression.

Indications of a Negative Attitude
Certain beliefs and patterns of thinking seem to characterize people with negative attitudes. If you see yourself in the following examples, read the section titled Steps to a More Balanced Perspective to begin changing your outlook. If a friend, coworker, or family member shows signs of pessimistic thinking, refer to Tips for Dealing with a Negative Attitude.

Seeing the worst in others – Pessimists have a low opinion of human nature and tend to expect the worst from others. They will predict failure and poor behavior when dealing with another person, regardless of evidence to the contrary of the individual’s character or accomplishments. Disparaging remarks are not uncommon. The pessimist will attribute the failure of others to the individual’s flaws or bad intentions, ignoring the role of circumstance.

Expecting negative outcomes without cause – A person with a negative attitude will enter new endeavors with low expectations. His skill, experience, and past achievements are inconsequential, he believes, because he anticipates obstacles instead of success. With his consciousness thus primed for failure, it becomes almost inevitable; he sabotages his own aspirations. Even when circumstances do work in his favor, he quickly dismisses the occurrence.

Blame – Having a negative attitude is, in some ways, a defense mechanism. When things go wrong, the pessimist will usually find some factor outside his control to blame. Circumstances, the weather, the economy, and often the actions of others take the rap for his predicaments. Placing blame outside himself frees the pessimist from responsibility for his own state of being.

Steps to a More Balanced Perspective
Even if you have been harboring a negative attitude throughout your life, change is possible. Negativity is a habit that is learned; conversely, so is optimism. You can teach yourself to have a more balanced outlook by practicing several steps.

Rethink your worldview – A negative attitude is simply one way of perceiving the world. It is only half the truth, however. For every evil intention and tragic event, there exists a good deed, a selfless act, or a beautiful example of human courage. When you catch yourself focusing on the negatives, force yourself to look for evidence of the positive as well. Your goal is not to adopt a Pollyanna approach, but rather, to seek balance in your perspective.

Examine your expectations – All other factors being equal, your efforts have as much chance of succeeding as anyone else’s. Consider the events in your past that taught you to expect little. While it is a fact that these events there is always something for which to be grateful. You may have been blessed with good health, loving family and friends, talents that allow you to earn a living or that bring you pleasure. Acknowledge the good in your life.

Take Responsibility – The only thing you have total control over in life is yourself. Placing blame is a defense and serves no useful purpose. Instead of fault-finding, consider how you might have contributed to the outcome. Use the experience as a learning tool, and take steps to better prepare yourself to respond positively and proactively in the future.

Give others the benefit of the doubt – The most competent people sometimes make mistakes. Good intentions don’t always translate to ideal behavior, and random, impersonal acts sometimes have negative consequences. Look at the facts before passing judgment on others. Trust that it is reasonable to depend on the efficacy of others more often than you thought.

Focus on yourself – Expecting the worst becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, look for ways you can improve your performance, gain new skills, and increase your effectiveness in all areas of your life. Others will begin responding to you in more positive ways as you accentuate the positive in yourself.

Seek support – Breaking a habit that has been with you throughout your life will not be easy. Let those you trust know of your effort to change your outlook. Ask them to gently point out negative statements; you may be so accustomed to such thoughts that at first, they fail to catch your attention. You also may want to consider the guidance of a therapist as you unravel the negative beliefs you have accumulated. Cognitive therapy is an especially effective approach to this task.

Tips for Dealing with a Negative Attitude
Try these tips for maintaining your balance when dealing with negative people. Your goal is not to “fix” the negative thinker, but rather to minimize the detrimental effect.

Rephrase negative statements – Acknowledge the speaker’s point if it is a valid one, while reframing it in a neutral or positive context.

Put it to good use – Pessimists often see problems before they catch the attention of the rest of us. Again, ignoring the negative aspersions let him or her provide a synopsis of the problem – along with possible solutions.

Keep responsibility where it belongs – Another person’s discontent is not necessarily your problem. Ask the complainer what ideas he has for correcting the situation.

Point out the obvious – The negative thinker views events from the perspective of how they affect him. It may not have occurred to him that others have been affected as well. Explain what you observed and the repercussions that followed.

Be compassionate – Accept his feelings as legitimate, even if you disagree with his perspective.

Take care of yourself – Everyone has limits. Set boundaries regarding what you will tolerate, and physically remove yourself when necessary.

The negative attitude of one individual can have far-reaching effects of the people and situations around him. Negativity is a learned response that is within our power to change. In every moment, there is a choice to be made, and awareness is the first step. If you or someone in your life is prone to negative thinking, these steps can be a starting point to creating a more positive existence.

Do You Have a Bad Attitude?
Remember those posters in the halls of your elementary school? The ones that said “Attitude is everything!” or “Attitude: A little thing that makes a big difference!” They seemed silly at the time, but these words of wisdom are appropriate no matter what age you are. So how’s your attitude? Find out if you have a problem with this bad attitude.

YOUR WOUNDS DO NOT DEFINE YOU

Words and actions are powerful. They can build people up, or tear them down. They can pour out love, or breed hate. They can establish trust, or destroy it. They can soothe deep and powerful wounds. Or they can create them.

Most of us have experienced wound-inflicting words or actions from other people at some point in our lives. The pain creates a burden we feel forced to carry. The lies are easy to believe. The hurt feels inescapable. Freedom seems hopeless as the scars threaten to resurface and bring a cloud of resentment.

Where do we find hope for real healing and the strength to forgive?

God grieves with us when others harm us. He wants to help us lay down the burden those wounds have caused so that we can step forward in grace and freedom. It does not guarantee complete healing will come right away, but it does mean we can open ourselves to Christ’s work in our hearts, as he carries us through this valley one day at a time.

Wounds Will Lie About You

Two of the greatest burdens of hurtful words or actions are bitterness and guilt. They cause us to suddenly see ourselves differently, with a distorted perspective. Beneath the anger, we’re tempted to believe the negative remarks and question our worth. We blame ourselves for the wrongs others have done to us. After a while, the distortion becomes pervasive, and it can seep into other areas of our life.

Each time we choose to see ourselves through the lens of our wounds, we refuse the opportunity to look at ourselves through God’s eyes. No one else has the authority to define who you are. He created you. He says that you are made in his image (Genesis 1:27), redeemed and restored because of Christ (Galatians 4:4–5), co-heirs along with Christ (Romans 8:17), dearly loved (Romans 5:8), and valued beyond measure (Matthew 10:29–31). Whatever your story, the Lord of heaven and earth longs for you to see yourself in that light.

When we’ve been deeply wounded, we should not walk through these doorways of distortion into isolation. It is not shameful to ask for help from a fellow believer who will speak the truth to us. Allow them to remind you again that the offense against you wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t your fault. No one should have treated you that way. And God can be trusted with this hurt. You can bring every piece of your tattered heart and place it at his feet, knowing he feels the sting of this brokenness, trusting his perfect justice, and believing in his relentless desire to make you whole with his love.

Laying Bricks

The words people hurl at us are like destructive bricks flying in our direction. We cannot control if they will be thrown, and we cannot control how they will bruise us. But it is our choice to pick up those bricks and carry them with us, allowing them to weigh us down and multiply the harm they caused. Even one can become so overwhelming that it takes up precious space in our hearts that can no longer be filled with God’s fullness.

The wounds are real. The bricks are real. Each one represents a profound hurt that may be difficult to put down. Still, bitterness and guilt do not have to be part of the story any longer. We can choose to leave the bricks on the ground and halt the damage.

At times, carrying around the bricks feels easier because it creates the illusion of justified anger. But our anger will accomplish nothing except for devouring our hearts with a heavy weight that will keep us from experiencing the life and joy Christ desires for us. Faith and forgiveness are the only ways to lay down the burden.

In the beginning, the choice to forgive may only last a few moments before we find ourselves attempting to pick up the brick again. That’s why we have to make a continual commitment to forgive and entrust the situation to God — renewing that commitment each time bitter feelings, anxious thoughts, and ideas of worthlessness or revenge come creeping into our mind.

Wounds don’t heal overnight. Some of them burn off and on for years. Forgiveness is not an easy choice. But it will set us free.

How Should We Respond?

When we’ve been hurt deeply, it’s difficult to see how we might have hurt others with our own words and actions. People who are wounded often lash out at others. We can help end the cycle by being kind and cautious as we interact with others. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Grace.

Our words should be full of grace toward others, even when they have harmed us or treated us wrongly. It’s tempting to sling cutting words right back at those who have hurt us, but grace brings more healing than vengeance. We are called to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), continually moving forward, and wishing no harm on others. If we have made that mistake, we should seek repentance and accept the grace given to each of us by Christ.

The road to laying down the burden of deep wounds might seem long and difficult. It may be hard to imagine finally letting go of something that has weighed you down for so long. But Christ longs to exchange our burdens for freedom. He wants to help us step out of the dark and bring healing to our heart.

Christ has so much more to offer us than the bricks we carry.

FORGIVENESS: LETTING GO OF GRUDGES AND BITTERNESS

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward. By Mayo Clinic Staff
Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. Or maybe you’ve had a traumatic experience, such as being physically or emotionally abused by someone close to you.

These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness means different things to different people. Generally, however, it involves a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge.

The act that hurt or offended you might always be with you, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help free you from the control of the person who harmed you. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you’re a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:

  • Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life
  • Identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what
  • Consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor
  • Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior, and work to release them
  • Choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

What happens if I can’t forgive someone?

Forgiveness can be challenging, especially if the person who’s hurt you doesn’t admit wrong. If you find yourself stuck:

  • Practice empathy. Try seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Ask yourself why he or she would behave in such a way. Perhaps you would have reacted similarly if you faced the same situation.
  • Reflect on times you’ve hurt others and on those who’ve forgiven you.
  • Write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation — or talk with a person you’ve found to be wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health provider, or an impartial loved one or friend.
  • Be aware that forgiveness is a process, and even small hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over again.

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.