Therapist, psychotherapist and clinical psychologist, Joanna Kleovoulou

By Joanna Kleovoulou, Clinical Psychologist, Founder and Director of PsychMatters Centre

“Holding on to Hate is like letting someone live rent-free in your mind”

Many of us associate the month of February with love, adoration and friendship, with Valentine’s Day shooting its arrow just around the corner. But for many of us, struggling to let go of past hurts and betrayals locks us into a spiral of mistrust and ill-health.

Hatred is a feeling that we all have felt and experienced at some point in our lives, especially when we have been betrayed or hurt by someone that we are attached to. Hateful feelings are normal when they occur sporadically. However, the effects of feeling hatred over a long period of time can have devastating effects on your mind and body. Feelings of rage and hatred build up in the mind, body and soul, affecting the body’s organs and natural processes and breeding further negative emotions. Hatred is a form of neurosis, fixation and judgment that is harmful to you. If continued, it leads to conflicts in relationships and to bodily dis-ease.

Research shows that hatred changes the chemistry in the brain as it stimulates the premotor cortex which is responsible for planning and execution of motion. This prepares us to act aggressively when feeling hateful, either to defend or as an attack . This activation also triggers the autonomic nervous system, creating “fight or flight” responses, increasing cortisol and adrenalin. Both these hormones deplete the adrenals and contribute to weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, depression and chronic illness. And so the cycle of bodily and mental dis-ease continues. Hatred also triggers the mind to try to predict what the actions of the person being hated may do, as a way to protect you, but this leads to further anxiety, restlessness, obsessive thinking and paranoia, which also then impacts negatively in the way you engage in relationships. It’s important to note that all these reactions affect only the hater, and not the hated, breaking down your nervous – immune – and endocrine system, and your mental well-being.

The opposite of hatred is not love. It is mental and emotional detachment. Hatred attaches you to the thing or person you hate. Hatred is an intense repulsion that creates a mirror effect in that it attracts the person back to the thing hated in order to be repulsed by it over and over. Hatred is bitter-sweet as it inflates the ego and makes you feel very superior and self-righteous against the thing or one that is hated, only breeding further pain.

Tips on getting rid of Hatred:

  • Acknowledge that you are full of hatred. If you can admit that you are feeling hateful, then you can begin to deal with this emotion and find a solution to the problem.
  • Understand why you are feeling hate. Look within yourself and ask why you are upset. Hatred usually comes from a place of fear, insecurity or mistrust.
  • Try to catch yourself in your hatred. The mind in its ego state, will perpetuate it by saying confirming labelling statements such as “She’s really such a @*&?*.”
  • When you catch yourself in these phrases, words or actions, stop yourself, recognise that it just feeds your hatred and builds up more anger.
  • Take a step back. In the heat of the moment it can be hard to make wise decisions. Take a break, go for a walk or practice meditation until you have calmed down. Take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. Once your mind is calm, you can will be able to control your emotions in a more efficient manner bringing perspective to your thoughts and feelings.
  • Deal with it. Instead of ignoring the issue, try to find a solution to the problem. If the situation is beyond your control, try to resolve it in your head by shifting your mindset. You may not be able to change a particular person or situation, but you can change how you think about them. Or, do what needs to be done, preferably in an even-handed and open-minded way.
  • Talk to someone you trust as talking to a close friend, family member or a psychologist about something painful, can help to alleviate the negative feelings you are having. They can often offer valuable advice or guidance.

Before you let someone live rent-free in your head and heart, remember – only YOU will be paying the painful price. Should you be struggling to let of hurt, anger, pain and hatred, contact us at PsychMatters on 0114503576 to assist you to live more masterfully and positively.

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