The Cost of Hatred
By Pierrette Desrosiers MPS CRHAFeatures Farmer Health/Safety Health Protection Research
Happy are those who do not harbour grudges or entertain thoughts of vengeance. They have learned how to forgive.
“I will never forgive her. Forgiving her would be letting her win.” This is how Julie justifies harbouring rage and bitterness for her sister‑in‑law for several years.
We are all after the same thing: happiness. Yet several studies have shown that harbouring hatred toward someone conflicts with happiness. Happy people do not entertain hatred or vengeance and are people who have learned to forgive.
There may be many reasons to hate, yet equally as many reasons to forgive. Some experts affirm that people who hold on to resentments and hatred could decrease their life expectancy by 14 years. In addition, persistent hatred is a contributing factor to depression and chronic stress. It is also associated with the risk of coronary artery disease. Resenting your sister‑in‑law day in and day out could increase your chance of a heart attack. Do you hate her that much?
“I go out to a restaurant for dinner with my husband and she’s all we talk about,” Julie told me. “I even wake up at night thinking about it. I am so tense that I have to see a massage therapist. Now, here I am seeing a psychologist.” Isn’t it paradoxical? We often invest more energy in people we hate or dislike than in those we like. And the result is a loss of so much time, energy and money. Think, for example, of people who pursue court action against someone for years in order to be proven right, or on principle. But how much do these principles and pride cost?
You can ask yourself the following:
- Is it useful to continue to entertain this hatred?
- Is it good for my physical and psychological health?
- Is it good for the people who are important and close to me to be subjected to my hatred?
- Is it useful for my life projects?
- Will this help me attain my life goals?
If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then continue. If not, why not stop poisoning your existence and that of others around you?
Only you can decide to forgive. You don’t need the other person to agree in order to do this. The responsibility and the power to choose are entirely yours.
In addition to all the benefits for your health and happiness, you could gain a great deal of time. As Julie said to me, “When you wake up at night hating someone because there is not enough time during the day to hate him or her, then it’s time to do something.”
Finally, remember that, unless you are calling the person in the middle of the night to tell them you hate them, you will be the only sleepless one.
Pierrette Desrosiers is a work psychologist, speaker and psychological coach who specializes in helping those working in agriculture. She can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, o,r if you would life more information, visit her website, www.pierrettedesrosiers.com.
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