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As kind and accepting as we are, there will always be someone you meet in life that you dislike for one or more reasons. How do our brains form this feeling of hate? Why is it that only certain people fall into this category in our mind? Let’s find out.
Ever been around someone you cannot stand? Whether it is that that co-worker that really riles you up for not being a team player or that one cousin that cannot get over how awesome he is, there’s always a bunch of people we meet in life that we won’t be able to like. Why does this happen?
What Science Says About Hating Someone
Scientists Semir Zeki and John Paul Romaya went on a quest to identify which part of the brain reacts to hatred by conducting a study. By asking participants to stare at a picture of someone they didn’t mind and then look at a picture of someone they hated, the scientists came up with the following observations.
The parts of the brain activated were the medial frontal gyrus, the medial insula, the right putamen and the premotor cortex. These are now called the “hate circuit.”
Let’s break this down more, shall we? The premotor cortex is that part of our brain that gets activated when we have feelings of anger or aggression. When we feel hatred, this part of our brain is actually ready for physical attack! The frontal gyros is the part of the brain that deals with the yes or no decisions we make. When you hate somebody this part of the brain is constantly in conflict, wondering if you should act negatively on these feelings.
To the biologist, hate is a passion that is of equal interest to love’, says Prof. Semir Zeki in his study. The study found that there was a pattern in the brain activity when hate was stimulated on seeing faces on people they disliked. What’s more is that two areas of this pattern were shared by the brain when the subject looked at pictured of people they loved!
Watch: What Your Brain Does When You Really, Really Hate Someone!
What Does Psychology Say?
When we hate something about a person that is different from us, it leads to the projection of these feelings. Simply explained, the feeling of uncertainty, fear or insecurity about a quality, race, gender or any aspect of a person different from you gets projected onto that person. You begin to see the person’s world as something you do not understand, causing you to feel hatred. Basically, these feelings are irrational and illogical and involve being afraid of anything different from what you already know and are aware of. Realizing this and choosing to show compassion or at least tolerance is a brave act because you are going against what your conscience is feeling. So hating someone is all about you and has nothing to do with the other person!
How To Deal With Hatred
Take a good look inside when addressing hatred toward someone. There will be one main quality that will stand out. Now ask yourself, “Do I have this quality? Most likely the answer will be no. For. eg. The person you hate is selfish. You might find that you lack the quality of putting yourself first. You may be harbouring some resentment or bitterness about this quality of yours which makes you irritable when someone else shows the opposite of it in abundance.
You might resent a trait in someone because of your own lack in that area.
Use this as an opportunity to understand yourself better and work on these areas with acceptance, patience and understanding.
Treat the person with compassion or at least be civil about how you deal with them. Harbouring hate has serious consequences on your own mental health!
While hatred triggers your mind to predict the actions of the person, it also leads to anxiety, obsession and paranoia which can negatively impact your relationships. It further affects the nervous system, immune system and endocrine system as well. Here are some tips to deal with any hatred you might feel.
- Acknowledge how you feel.
- Understand where the hatred is coming from: is it from fear, insecurity or mistrust?
- Hatred can sometimes lead to verbal abuse or physical abuse. If you feel yourself consumed by the urge to do something that might hurt somebody, take some time off to calm down and adopt a more acceptable perspective.
- Try and look for a quality in that person that you might actually like. Maybe it will help you see them in a different light.
- Every time you feel the urge to lash out, take deep breaths and try and relax. Calming your mind can help you rationalise how you are feeling.
- A slight perspective change can help you deal with hating someone. Try and understand why they bother you and resolve it in your head. Although you cannot change someone, you can change what affects you.
- Communicate how you feel with someone you trust. This can help relieve you of how you are feeling.
Above all, realise that you will always meet people who are different from you. Disliking someone is bound to happen at some point. How you feel is solely dependent on how you choose to deal with it.
Recognise why the persons particular quality is causing you discomfort, think about if you think you lack that quality in some form or the other and take steps to view the person in a different light.
A lot of negative words and actions can be saved if you can view the person you hate with some compassion and more than anything else you’ll save your body and mind the damage caused by negative thoughts.