Hating Someone Keeps You From Breaking Free From Them

It's human to feel resentment toward someone who hurt you. However, this emotion can imprison you more than you'd think. Find out how to free yourself from this here!
Hating Someone Keeps You From Breaking Free From Them

Last update: 20 January, 2021

We all tend to think that hate is the opposite of love. You may believe that, when someone seriously harms or betrays you, there’s nothing else to do but detest them and hold a grudge against them. They deserve no less than that, right? Not quite. Sometimes, it’s hard to realize the cold hard truth when it comes to this: hating someone keeps you from breaking free from them. The only way to let them go is by forgiving and detaching yourself from that experience as a whole.

Each individual reacts differently to offense or harm, as everyone has their own coping mechanisms. It’s true that, at certain times, anger can be more functional than sadness, since the former can give you the drive and strength you need in order to move on. However, when this feeling’s sustained over time, it only poisons your soul and keeps you trapped in that painful past.

Why do we hate?

Think of those people you hate or have hated at some point in your life. They aren’t just anyone, right? It’s more than likely that they play or once played an important role in your life.

Hate is a very intense emotion that is only caused by a very specific type of stimulus in most people. Basically, we hate when we feel attacked or taken advantage of or when someone assaults our physical or psychological integrity.

In other words, we don’t just hate “anyone”, do we? Think about it. You probably placed the person you hate on a pedestal in the past, either because great you shared emotional ties or because, in one way or another, they had authority over you. Thus, it’s common to think that it’s more than okay to hate that abusive and neglecting parent, that mean teacher who affected your self-esteem, or that person who promised to take care of you and did the exact opposite.

A woman wasting all her energy on hating someone who did her wrong.

Hate is nothing more than a condemnation. Hating someone makes us feel that we’re “a judge” and that we have the right to sentence the other for their wrongdoing. Not only do we believe that they deserve punishment but we take matters into our own hands and wish to do it ourselves. This leads to hate.

Hating someone keeps you from breaking free from them

First of all, keep in mind that it’s absolutely human to have hateful feelings towards those who significantly hurt you. Your emotions are valid and you have the right to feel them. It’s even understandable that you want to punish that person. However, the reality is that you’re only punishing yourself by hating them.

People say that holding a grudge is like holding a burning coal in your hand and waiting for the other to get burned. We must say that this is completely true. At the end of the way, you’re the one who will live every day with darkness inside. You’re the one who’ll continue to relive the pain and betrayal they caused. This way, you remain chained to that person you detest so much; their actions will continue to condition your present.

Keeping these intense and negative feelings inside over time is a huge emotional drain. Hating them will keep you tied to them, meaning you’ll continue to invest time and mental energy in thinking about them instead of healing yourself once and for all. Only when you accept, forgive, and re-signify your experience can you break the chains that still bind you.

A man sitting on a couch feeling worried.

Don’t be afraid to break free

Not all offenses are equally serious. Thus, in some cases, breaking free will be more complicated than in others. However, it’s a worthwhile effort that you must do for yourself. To do this, the first and essential step is to accept what happened. You have to stop resisting, stop obsessively thinking that things had to be different. Realize that you can’t change the past and accept it as part of your story so you can move on.

Next, resignify your experience. This term refers to the ability of human beings to interpret the same event in different ways. Instead of focusing on the pain and injustice that it caused, focus on the lessons that that experience left you. Remember that, no matter how difficult an experience may be, it always, in one way or another, helps you grow and become stronger.

Lastly, forgive them. This step is the most complicated to take. You may think that, by forgiving them, you make them seem completely innocent. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you’re justifying their actions. However, by forgiving, you free yourself of the burden of continuing to hold hatred. Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting the past, it means preventing it from continuing to hurt you.

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  • Capella, C., & Gutiérrez, C. (2014). Psicoterapia con niños/as y adolescentes que han sido víctimas de agresiones sexuales: Sobre la reparación, la resignificación y la superación. Psicoperspectivas13(3), 93-105.
  • Luskin, F. (2008). Perdonar es sanar. Editorial Norma.