How Discovering What You “Hate” Can Be Your Greatest Teacher

Do you ever find yourself saying how much you hate something because it makes you uncomfortable? This time of year, if you are from the northern part of North America, it seems to be the cold that is on everyone’s mind. Just yesterday when I stepped outside I heard down the street: “I hate the cold! It’s the worst!”

Here is some insight that might be helpful. As humans, we tend to project our larger problems and frustrations on to the uncomfortable common things in our everyday lives. We dream up fantasies about how to avoid discomfort. If we hate the cold, we might even spend a few hours looking up apartments in a warmer city across the country. Or maybe we search for flights to entirely different continents and imagine ourselves basking on sunny beaches where the temperature maintains an even 75 degrees. Anything to get away from this cold!

If we are lucky enough to escape from what we hate, we lose out on the opportunity to learn from it. If you can go on a rant about something you hate, make a list of excuses about it, or numb yourself in any variety of 21st-century ways to avoid it, then you are spending a hell of a lot of energy on it. If you “hate” it so much then why would you spend so much energy ignoring it?

Take a moment to get mad with me right now. What’s your worst rant about the cold or whatever bothers you most? As you get angry your energy probably is starting to get tense, heated, and narrowly focused. This reaction comes from the part of your brain known as the amygdala, that is responsible for your flight, fight, freeze response. When the amygdala is active there is very little opportunity to think about how to react to the situation in infront of you or learn from it.

When we are caught in this moment of tenseness it is very difficult to think reflectively about why we “hate” something or come up with creative ways to deal with it. We just get stuck at how awful, uncomfortable, and annoying it is. We spend so much time thinking about how terrible it is that we leave no space for possibilities to do something different. What would it be like instead to find out why you really “hate” something, move beyond it, and take action to make it better in a unique way for you?

In this way what we “hate” can teach us more about what matters to us and think about how we want to resolve it. If it’s the cold you “hate”, maybe it’s frustrating to not be able to control your surroundings and there is a lesson to learn about letting go. Maybe you would like to be able to go on vacation but you aren’t making enough money right now to do that so it’s challenging to be reminded of that every time you go outside. Only you know what your “hate” is coming from. My suggestion when you start hearing yourself have that hatefully rant style conversation is to stop and say, “thank you for this sign, there is clearly something about this for me to learn about this.” After all, the purpose of our lives is to grow from the challenges we are faced with, not avoid them to get more comfortable. And perhaps in the process of accepting and learning from the things we “hate” we can become more comfortable with the uncomfortable situations that make up our lives.

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