Not being able to get something that bothers you out of your mind can be very annoying! It can be doubly annoying if that something is thoughts about someone you hate. Wouldn’t it be better if you could forget that person, and so free yourself from these thoughts?
It is often said that love and hate are the two sides of the same coin, and although love may seem too strong an emotion to consider having for a person you hate, there is often an emotional attachment that stops you from just letting go of all thoughts and feelings, as you would for someone you didn’t care about. So, how to forget someone that you have such strong emotions about?
To forget someone you really hate requires taking the emotion out of the equation. Hate is a strong emotion and when focus is put on it the mind believes and accepts it as real, and the more real it feels the more time you will find yourself focusing on it. Emotions are created by the thoughts we have, but thoughts are not necessarily facts: we choose which thoughts we accept as being true. Be mindful of the negative thoughts you have for that person, and when you become aware of them entering your mind, allow them to pass, without engaging with them. With practice this will become a subconscious action, requiring no conscious awareness or cognitive effort.
Why do you hate the person? Have they really done something so abhorrent that it entitles you to bestow such a strong emotion on them? Or, is it possible that the hate is more a result of where you are in your world? Are you a happy person, easy going and laid back, or are you quick-tempered, easily annoyed, and always ready for a fight? If the latter sounds like you, then maybe the problem is more about your behavior, beliefs and interpretations to what happens around you, and less about the other person. Changing the way you react may help resolve your feelings towards the other person, making it easier to move on, and forget about them.
Resolve to accept what has passed: you can’t change the past, and negative emotions—such as hate—damage the future. Decide to forgive them, and also forgive yourself for holding negative thoughts about another person. Place yourself in their shoes and consider how things could look from their perspective. In their shoes, would you agree that they should have such a strong emotion attributed to them? Also, put yourself in the position of an impartial observer; someone who doesn’t know either of you. How would they interpret your actions? It’s a lot harder to hold such extreme views when you look at something from the perspectives of others. Is it possible to talk to the person? Often differences, however big they seem, can be resolved by talking with the other person. Misunderstandings can be discovered, compassion can be given, and the person’s good qualities can become apparent, if given a chance. You may not become friends, trust or respect the person, but it’s possible to achieve a healthy downgrade from hating them.
Do you have any reminders of this person? Photos, clothes, etc that can act as a stimulus to thoughts being created about the person. Maybe its worth removing them from sight, either putting into storage or disposing of them entirely. If there are places that the person frequents, consider going or being somewhere else if that doesn’t have a detrimental effect on you. This might not be possible if you work with them, for example, but often the anger and hate we feel for a person can draw us to places we think they might be. Sometimes, something as simple as a song being played on the radio, or a smell of a particular food can trigger the thoughts. Although its not possible, or healthy, to try to avoid everything that acts as a reminder, removing obvious reminders will reduce the amount of times these trigger your thoughts of the person. Avoid creating more reminders by writing about them online on social networks or keeping a journal. Sometimes, writing about a problem you have can help release the attachment you have with them, helping put your thoughts into context in order to get closure. Just be sure to not keep reliving these thoughts by keeping what you have written. Disposing of the pages can be a physical way of getting rid of those thoughts, and remember that once you’ve posted something online there’s more chance of what you’ve written being viewed and discussed by yourself and others.
Aim to get on with and progress in your life. Use all the energy wasted on hate to pursue new interests, career progression at work, and people you care for and enjoy spending time with. Remind yourself that you are wasting time and energy hating that person—time and energy that could be put to positive use, focused on people you think are better deserving of it.
“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk
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