How Do I Function in This World If I Hate People?

Michelle Overman, Author
September 20, 2018

You might hate people for trivial reasons, such as when they cut you off in traffic or disparage your favorite team. There are more serious reasons such as watching people being cruel to each other on social media or seeing someone get berated over something small. When you consider humanity as a whole, it’s easy to list what’s terrible. The news reminds us daily of that sad fact. It’s easy to become discouraged, disdainful, and hateful when viewing the worst of other people. There’s no doubt that human beings can be cold, harsh, selfish, and even brutal. However, over time, hating people only hurts one thing: you.

love and hate

You might be thinking, “I’m justified in my hate. I see how terrible people are.” You’re probably right. While you may be justified in hating people, this way of thinking will hurt you in the long run. First, it makes for a potentially lonely existence. It’s difficult to have relationships with people if you don’t like them. Second, bitterness and hatred are damaging emotions. They negatively affect your relationships and get in the way of enjoying life. Last, someday you might act on that hatred in a way you could regret. In doing so, you may exhibit a behavior you hate in others. If you exhibit enough of those behaviors, eventually, it will be difficult to not hate yourself.

When striving to overcome hatred, these behaviors can help:

Think of certain qualities you like in people. What qualities do you appreciate in others? Not everyone is perfect, but many exhibit qualities you might admire. It’s easy to get so caught up in hating everyone that you forget to pay attention to characteristics you admire in others.

Spend time with people you might like. Even if it’s just one person, there is likely a person in your life you may tolerate or even like. Think of someone who exhibits qualities you appreciate and spend time with them. They will help you see the good in humanity.

Don’t make excuses for others, but look for the good in them. You don’t need to excuse the wrongdoings of others. However, it can be helpful to look for the good in people. Find ways to appreciate the good in others; all of us possess good qualities. It’s about making the choice to see beyond the negative.

Use a filter. Stop focusing on all the bad. What are you surrounding yourself with? If you constantly read stories about the terrible things people do or you listen to co-workers gossip about others, it’s going to be difficult to see any positive. Maybe this involves cutting back on social media or turning off the news. Pay attention to the amount of negativity you’re surrounded by and add a little more positivity to your life.

Practice empathy. This is HUGE. Empathy puts you in another person’s shoes. It’s harder to dislike or even hate someone if you can visualize where they might be coming from. Practice empathy for others and imagine what their life might be like. It’s not about excusing their behavior but it can soften your attitude and approach towards them.

Although challenging, opening yourself up to people and finding the good in them can allow you to build better relationships that lead to a more fulfilling life.

Michelle Overman, Author

Michelle is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Texas. She works with athletes, bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families.