It feels like there is so much hate and anger in the world, but what can we do? It turns out, we can do a lot.
Even though hate seems widespread through organized groups, it begins with each one of us as individuals. When someone attacks the things you believe in, it’s hard not to become defensive and angry. From there, it is hardly a step into feeling hate. It’s almost too easy. As we all know, what’s easiest is not always the best path for us to take. And in these uncertain times, it’s even more important for us to step back, try to understand our negative feelings, and try to turn them into something more productive.
Whether we are yelling obscenities at the driver who cut us off in traffic, or seething with hatred at the other political party, we are perpetuating hate. We have forgotten that each one of us, each human calls this planet home and that it is up to us to make it a better place. As Susan wrote in Dare to Connect, “We are all in it together, all fearful individuals trying very hard in our own way to make it in this seemingly hostile world…all trying to learn how to make the world more peaceful and loving for ourselves and others.”
So how can we turn what prompts us to anger and hatred into something positive? It’s not easy. As Susan said, “Believe me, it is hard to examine deeply one’s own feelings of hatred let alone how you are going to overcome them, but these are the ways that I came up with to help myself handle my hatred and I want to share them with you.”
In an article she wrote in the early 2000s, Susan recommended these eight steps to help us overcome any hatred that we feel.
Step 1: There are two sides to every story. Step away from your own opinion to look more closely at the other point of view. You never know, there might be something you agree with.
Step 2: Know your adversary. How well do you know the person you are hating? Do you know them at all? Remember that everyone has their own troubles. Think about where they are coming from.
Step 3: Don’t overreact. Rushing to judgment can be a terrible mistake. All of us often speak or act before we think. You will be amazed at how different the outcome will be if you just stop to think and reappraise the situation.
Step 4: Improve your communication. All of us have a lot to learn when it comes to communicating clearly and sensitively. Make your case or argument as clearly as you can, but be mindful of the other side’s point of view. Be ready to compromise, since it is rare that you are going to win every point in any argument or conflict.
Step 5: Handle your fear. Fear underlies so many of our actions and reactions. Learning to handle your fear will empower you to act in a more balanced and caring manner when you find yourself in a confrontational situation where you might otherwise lash out.
Step 6: Don’t take it personally. You can’t solve all the problems of the world yourself so don’t take these burdens on your shoulders.
Step 7: Learn to forgive. Once you become comfortable with the acknowledgment of the person you supposedly hate, forgive them and forgive yourself for hating them. True forgiveness will create healing as you feel compassion.
Step 8: I love you, I love you, I love you. These magical words mean so much. They encapsulate the essence of all the other tools above. It maybe hard to do this at first since most of the people you need to say it to are those that you want to hit in the face.
These steps, taken singularly or all together, are a way to bring more love, understanding, and compassion to the world. As Susan said, “When you put loving thoughts and behavior into the world, you plant seeds of self-respect. When you put unloving thoughts and behavior into the world, you destroy seeds of self-respect.”
Self-respect and respect for the differences between us can go a long way to bringing more love into the world. Everyone is different, and everyone is facing some kind of trouble, so we all need to remember to keep our minds and hearts open, no matter how hard it may be.
Susan wrote, “Within everyone of us lives a place of light and love that I call the Higher Self. Perhaps hurtful life experiences have built walls making it invisible. Nevertheless, the place of light and love is always there!”
So when we are feeling anger and hate, we need to remember that we can also feel love and when we do so, we are bringing more loving into the world.