Happy Valentine’s Day! We all associate this greeting and this day with lovers and with children. Do you realize that with the kids, everyone in their class is their Valentine’s? Think about it, no one is left out. Either as the parent, the teacher or the child, you brought enough cards, decorations and treats for EVERYONE. My invitation to you is to love everyone. If love is too strong of a word for you, let’s use ACCEPT. In order to love and accept all people, let’s first explore the opposite feelings: hate and judgment. Let’s also define ALL PEOPLE before continuing. ALL PEOPLE is defined as anyone of the same or different gender orientation than you; anyone of the same or different complexion, race, color or ethnic background than you; anyone living in the same or different area (neighborhood, city, state, county, region, country, continent, hemisphere, Earth) than you; anyone who was born in a different area than you; anyone who practices the same or different religious or spiritual beliefs as you; anyone who speaks or doesn’t speak your language; anyone whose body has extra parts, is missing parts or who has different parts than you; anyone who dresses differently than you; anyone who has political views, opinions or affiliations that are different from yours; anyone born in the same or a different year from you AND anyone who sins, behaves, thinks, speaks and looks differently than you. Whew, what a list! I think I successfully covered everybody and the reasons they are typically judged or hated.
The reasons people hate and/or judge another falls into four main categories:
- They feel physically threatened by them.
- The other person has traits or habits that the hater doesn’t like about himself or herself, therefore projects their self-hatred onto them.
- The hater feels inadequate to, intimidated by, jealous of the target.
- The hater has confused hate with a lack of understanding or compassion.
Can you see how with all 4 reasons, the issue lies with the hater and not the target? If not, I shall explain it to you.
With the first category, the optimal word here is “feel,” as in perception or belief. One way this feeling exists is through a vicarious experience where one person is the perpetrator and every one else that fits that description gets labeled as a threat. Sure Stacy was attacked by a purple man with 4 arms, but that doesn’t mean all purple men with 4 arms are bad, threatening, dangerous or deserve to be hated on. This is the kind of hate and stereotyping that our society feeds on. It doesn’t matter whether or not the media is playing on people’s fear, or if the fear of danger is just so strong that it naturally consumes people, it is simply not fair to punish or hate anyone who remotely looks like the members of a specific group of criminals. How is this behavior humane? Is this what “love thy neighbor as thyself” looks like? One bad apple doesn’t make the whole bushel bad. Recognize if you have fallen into the trap of mass- stereotyped vicarious hatred that our world is so accustomed to, then stop…just stop. Oh, and the Stacys of the world, they have some forgiveness work to do. You’ll have to wait for my next blog to learn about my favorite forgiveness techniques.
Category two is a direct result of the lack of self-love. It was 1996 when I first heard the quote: “What you most dislike about someone else is what you most dislike about yourself.” I began to witness that I frequently judged skinny girls. Oh wow! At the time I was in my early 20s and weighed all of 95 lbs. I had been slim all of my life and was teased a lot. Unfortunately, I internalized the teasing and that led to self-judgment which I then projected onto others who fit the same description. At that moment of realization, I began to consciously appreciate, accept and love my body more and more everyday. Not once was anyone else but me responsible for my feelings. I am the only one that needed to change. The skinny girls I hated on didn’t need to gain weight or stay in hiding so no one had to see their bodies. I changed my perception of myself, then my perception of them automatically changed. Homework: become aware of your little judgmental voice. Is that thought a projection of how you see yourself? If yes, accept and embrace that quality about you and every day, love it more.
The third category is also a direct result of the lack of self-love. Any time someone feels inadequate to, intimidated by or jealous of another person, healing needs to happen. Is the issue with the hater or with the target? Always the one with the issue is the one that needs to heal. The hater needs to discover his/her own self-worth. The target does not need to change, be less successful or less beautiful so that others won’t feel insecure around him/her.
With the fourth category, can you see examples in our society where certain groups of people are judged mainly because they are misunderstood? To those that confuse hatred with a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience and a lack of compassion, let me just tell you this. Every single person on this Earth has a personal struggle. Every single person is looking for love, acceptance and safety. Each of us has a least one thing we are really good at and at least one thing we just cannot figure out. At our core we are all the same. However, if we looked alike, spoke the same language or behaved the same way, life would be boring! Our uniqueness needs to be celebrated and honored not hated or shamed. No one is superior to anyone else. If you don’t understand someone’s way of life, ask questions to members of that group or their friends or do some research (preferably from a reliable, unbiased source, not a hate group). Holding onto hatred hurts you, not the target of your feelings. Acting on your ignorance reflects on your personality and hurts those that you are hating on. Social hate affects everybody! The best way to feel compassion for another human being is to put yourself in his shoes. So right now, imagine if everyday you had to live with hatred these examples of hatred. Take a moment to really experience what each one would be like. How would you feel if people called you hurtful names as they walked by you? How would you feel if someone beat you up for being yourself, for living your life out loud, simply expressing your individuality? How would you feel is someone killed your lover because of how you look (same gender, different race or both)? How would you feel if you were constantly being judged by your religious or spiritual beliefs? How would you feel if you were prohibited from visiting certain businesses or using public facilities based on race or sexual preference? You get the point? It doesn’t feel good. So do whatever you need to do to spread love, not hate. Love, understanding and acceptance doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s FREE. On a personal note, I am truly blessed to have friends, acquaintances and clients from all walks of life who show me how we are all the same and how to appreciate our differences. Which came first, the acceptance or the friendships? It’s a circle, no beginning and no ending. My openness to make friends with someone different than me leads to acceptance, which then leads to being more receptive to making friends with all kinds of people.
So this Valentine’s day, I invite you to spread love to everyone! I invite you to not only show love to your friends and family, but also to someone different from you. I invite you to be more open to make friends with (or least being nice to) someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. Hold the door for someone. Say hi to a stranger. Wave at a child. I invite you to love yourself more and more everyday!
Beverly V Bates
Holistic Wellness Specialist
Certified Holistic Life Coach