The point of what, you may ask?
The point of being human. And the point of working through our feelings and reactions to be better versions of ourselves.
Hating people or being annoyed or frustrated is part of the human experience, which is pretty obvious, right? I mean, it's everywhere these days! Even the most trained mindfulness practitioners talk about this being a daily challenge. Don't feel too bad if you struggle with it.
Why am I writing about this? Well, for one, people seem really annoyed with other people lately and you can see it all over social media. We're pretty polarized as a country and world, but that's really nothing new. People have been having conflicts since figuring out how to make fire. I don't know that for a fact but I'm pretty sure it happened.
And the second reason I'm writing about this is because a lot of people seem to beat themselves up a bit for sometimes hating people. Or maybe they don't hate them but they really struggle with conflict. Some people try being so positive that they really aren't even allowing themselves to feel healthy amounts of anger. OK, I CONFESS! I have a hard time being mad and feeling anger even when people really, truly suck. Are you with me? Do you struggle with this, too?! Or maybe you struggle with being angry allllll the time. That's a whole other thing, so keep reading.
Anger is a thing many people struggle with. They aren't quite sure how to handle difficult people or situations (which usually involve people).
What do we do?
What do we say (or don't)?
What are good boundaries?
How much do we get involved?
When do we step up or step back or step AWAY as far and fast as we can run?
Well, those are good questions. But the underlying truth is that hating people is OK. ANGER is really ok. It's a response to feeling betrayed or frustrated or scared. It's part of the point of being human. It's totally natural to have feelings that include frustration and contempt and seething jealousy...and other feelings that we struggle to allow ourselves to feel.
I know I can say I struggle with this because I really, truly TRY to be a good person. In fact, people have said to me more than once that I'm actually *too nice* and I didn't think so before but I can totally see it now.
Many people really suck. They are self-absorbed and selfish and unaware and inconsiderate. And those people are hard to take but when we have the right tools at our disposal, we can actually deal with people like this (and other difficult situations) more easily.
Take my experience at the laundromat recently. I was there, doing mountains of laundry that had piled up from weeks of traveling.
I was tired. I was worn out. I desperately needed a day off and to myself spent lying flat on my back. I knew this but there were chores and errands to do before I could actually relax.
Then, a group of little league baseball players and their dads enter the laundromat. They were caught in the rain and had to dry off their gear. As more kids and parents arrived, they stood in one group right in the way of customers who needed to access the wall of floor-to-ceiling dryers.
When people tried to move around or go through them (people like me) they stood still and hardly moved. They just stood there.
I felt my anger rise from my throat to my head in about 2 seconds. In that short amount of time, all the meditation training and mindfulness practice I've been nurturing since 2002 went RIGHT out the window and I reverted back the impatient, annoyed person I was raised to be. I mean, I wasn't taught kindness and patience and calm. I was raised in a family of negativity and reactivity and unsavory behaviors. It's taken me a long time to undo and unlearn all that programming.
But there it was in one instant, right back like it never left.
I angrily steered my cart around the group and mumbled under my breath and felt REALLY ANNOYED. I actually hated them and their obliviousness to the needs of others around them. All they cared about was themselves. I wondered how human beings could live on the same planet and be that asleep.
And then the training kicked in. I remembered how much I knew about scenarios like this. I remembered that it wasn't their behavior that was the problem, it was my reaction to it. I was letting their behavior bother me, and no one else could change that but me.
I practiced some deep breaths. I went over to the window to chat with the person monitoring the laundromat. I said, "wow, those people are really jamming up the works."
She nodded, closed her eyes and said, "yep. Some people are just inconsiderate."
And like that, the spell was broken. She was right. People are so many different ways, despite our expectations and assumptions otherwise. And hating them for being that way is part of the process of overcoming our fear and expectations and assumptions that keep us stuck, waiting for them to change or be different. Hating people is part of the point of why we are here--to see ourselves and to change whatever is within our reach to change.
We can hold onto anger and hate people forever or we can let it go. We get to choose.
So next time this happens to you, about any person you can name or identify, think to yourself what choice you're making about the hate you feel and what would be possible for you if learned to choose differently.