I had been to a meeting at a suburb country side location. It was an unfamiliar place with narrow and winding roads. The night was dark and the moon was hiding behind the clouds. As it repeatedly happens, my car was running low on gas and the gas light indicator was on. The nearest gas station was a few miles further into the country side. I did not want to risk driving all the way back home on an empty tank. A few miles to the station was better than driving 30 miles back home. Mine was the lone car on the street and at the station.
After filling up the gas, I turned on the ignition, looked at the GPS map for my route back home. It said, “make a left” coming out of the station and drive a few miles to get to the highway. As soon as I turned left, I could see blaring headlights right in front of me. I was on the wrong side of the road! I had made a turn onto the oncoming traffic. Death was staring in my eyes. This is it, I thought. Thanks to the divine, the presence of mind kicked in. I veered to the other side of the road, onto the shoulder and avoided a fatal accident. Everyone was safe.
As soon as I crossed to the other side of the road, two thoughts immediately kicked in:
My first thought was about the other driver. How terrified he might have been? If I died, it was due to my mistake. What mistake did the other person do to go through any pain?
My second thought was around the nature of life. Imagine if I had carried hatred within me and died on that fatal day. There would be so much unforgiving repentance. I’d not even have the time to repent. And, that is so true. We all carry hatred and internal feelings within us as though we are very confident of the next moment. We carry grudges and resentment in the baggage we hold. There is a feeling of eternity in us. The reality is that there is no certainty of the next moment. You only know the present moment, the one prior to this moment has passed and the one coming up is completely unknown.
Once we come into this world, we decide our future. Same goes for hatred. We decide to live a life of hatred, it is individual dependent.
Over the years and in practicing contentment and compassion, I have found 4 root causes for hatred.
Being Judgmental – When we are quick to judge people, we risk developing hatred towards the other person. Our brains are wired to search for similarities. When our judgment reveals differences and the relationship with the other person continues, those differences when not properly managed can transform to hatred. The greater the interaction, the greater the chances. It happens at work, home and with friends. Labels get assigned, like “he is a nosy person.”
The seeds of hatred get sown and grow into a prickly tree.
Understanding the other person, recognizing differences, acknowledging those differences and learning to live and navigate through those differences takes away hatred. If the relationship is avoidable, you can always stay neutral, minimize the interaction instead of hating.
We have sharp intellectual minds with the ability to think fast. A downside of the sharp mind is the quick judgmental calls we make on other people.
Misaligned Expectations – There is an unwritten expectation target set from every person we meet in our life. It could be your spouse, your son, your co-worker or even the cashier at a store. We expect others to be like us. Parents know this well; they keep searching for similarities in their child. This feeling of ownership on our children or even spouse drives an expectation. When your expectations do not align with the demonstrated behavior of the other person, the seeds of hatred get sown and grow into a prickly tree.
Relationships are not black and white; they have too many shades of gray. Expectation mismatch is bound to occur. Depending on the type of relationship, you can look at the least common denominator and decide if you can live with it. In the professional workspace, misaligned expectations can also be addressed through crisp objectives and conveying desired behaviors.
Envy – Jealousy leads to an emotional hatred knot in you. Let us reflect back on our own lives. Was there a feeling of envy when someone had an achievement, bought something fancy? Being envious of the other person means you are moaning about something the other person has achieved. On the surface you may appear to be unperturbed but beneath that fragile layer lies your envy. As the other person thrives and achieves more, the seeds of hatred get sown and grow into a prickly tree.
Stop trying to keep up or envying the Joneses.
Hatred can affect us indirectly. This is common in parents with young children. Two kids do not get along, and that in turn impacts the relationship between the parents of the kids and hatred develops. In this case, attachment to our kith and kin became the cause for hatred.
Insecurity – This is the most important one. Being Judgmental, Misaligned Expectations, Envy all stem from insecurity. When we are not confident internally and strong at the core, insecurity takes over and drives undesirable behavior. Attaching our worth to something we have and being insecure on the fear of loss transforms to hatred. The only way to overcome insecurity is through faith and being confident. Faith in our own self, Faith in a divine. Not because the divine will come to your rescue but to embrace the pure blissful characteristics of the divine.
One who can go beyond the pain and pleasure, develop awareness when any of the above four causes creep in, transcends such deficiencies to live a life of bliss.
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