Hi, my name is Tara and I’m a recovering hater.
The most common definition of hater, according to Urban Dictionary, is someone who cannot be happy for another person and focuses on negativity (the subject of hate is oftentimes a successful person). It is not necessarily borne out of jealousy; rather it often comes from the wish to knock someone else down.
Keep in mind, I think “hater” is a tired word that people overuse. However, I can’t really think of another term that aptly describes the behavior pattern I have in mind (if you have another, leave it in a comment, and it would be much appreciated).
My Hating Story
The peak of my haterdom was in middle school and early high school although in later years, my hating has toned down substantially. However, recovery is a continuous process and the tendency for hating may never fully go away.
When I was younger – think eleven – I went through that terrible (at least, to me) stage called puberty. I was suddenly a lot more insecure about everything, from my hair, to my acne, to my braces, to my fashion sense, to my body shape, to my intelligence and everything in between, culminating in a less-than-stellar sense of self-worth.
I didn’t exactly know how to make myself feel better. But when I saw the funny, popular people in school but also on television and the internet, the most entertaining were the ones who had killer put-downs and acerbic wit. That’s who I wanted to be. I became a gossip. I became vicious. I hated.
When I saw someone who I could feel superior to – maybe due to their fashion sense, or my opinion on their intelligence, or their looks, or something else equally pointless – I didn’t miss the chance to come up with a “smart remark”. It didn’t matter if they were higher or lower than I was on the arbitrary social totem pole in grade school – those lower had to stay there, and those higher could stand to be brought down a few pegs. Eventually, it became something of a pastime.
I didn’t really consider the effect my words and attitude had on others; to me, it was all in (mean-spirited) fun. Until I heard through the grapevine about how much a particular girl in my class despised me – I had hurt her feelings and made her angry on several occasions. My “source” mentioned her anger-fueled desire to exact violent revenge on me. She never did, but that was enough of a wake-up call – my behavior was toxic and needed to stop. Immediately.
But it certainly wasn’t overnight – it took me several years before I was able to say I had broken the habit.
Are You a Hater?
It’s tough to label yourself with such a reviled term, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
- Pick on people who you perceive as “beneath” you? Or try to bring people “above” you to your level?
- Try to delegitimize or minimize the achievements of others?
- Assume the worst of people more successful than you are?
- Generally focus on the negative, rather than the positive?
- Spend more time analyzing the lives of others instead of your own?
Just for clarification, having feelings of dislike for legitimate reasons is completely different from hating. Being critical of something or someone is very different from being negative just for the sake of being negative.
How to Deal
Do the traits above apply to you? There are solutions. This is some tough love.
- Realize it’s a Process – You can’t grow out of your negative ways overnight, especially when it’s an ingrained habit. Often times, the best way to combat unnecessarily mean-spirited thoughts is to catch them as they happen and stop them going any further.
- Give People a Break – It’s easy to make snap judgments based on your split-second perceptions, but consider the fact that you might not know their situation before you ridicule them.
- Mind Your Own Damn Business – Yes, it is that serious. Many times when these thoughts arise, there are more pertinent things that could be occupying your mind. If you’re insulting someone who you find “lower” than you, why is this allegedly insignificant person so important that you have to talk about them? If that person is “higher” than you are, why are you investing yourself in the life of someone who is (probably) not invested in yours?
- Don’t entertain negativity and gossip – I’m not going to lie, some people’s critical jokes are extremely hilarious (see: Kid Fury) and everyone has their crabby days, but making a regular habit of it is simply a bad look. If you’ve surrounded yourself with a group of friends who commonly tear down others like a pack of vicious jackals, a close examination of your relationship is in order. Sometimes the solution is as simple as redirecting the conversation to topics more personally relevant to the group or maintaining positivity.
- Avoid the phrase “keep it real” – Aside from the fact that it’s extremely dated and played-out, there’s a major difference between being honest and just using frankness as an excuse for rudeness. Besides, Keeping it Real can often go wrong.
- Address your own shortcomings – This is a deeper, more permanent solution. There’s usually a reason for being super-negative, based on issues you are having with yourself – often feelings of inferiority. People who are secure in themselves don’t feel the need to keep people in their place or to bring others down. Examining these issues are the key to solving the problem on the deepest level.
Any thoughts or additions? Let me know in the comments.