How To Avoid Becoming What You Hate: 7 Highly Effective Tips

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Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you if you’re worried about becoming that which you hate. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.

Unless you’re a monk or nun with an extraordinary capacity for compassion, forgiveness, and understanding, there are likely several things out there that you despise.

Some of them might be tangible, like the texture of runny egg whites in your mouth. Others are traits and behaviors that other people exhibit – things you’d be devastated to embody yourself.

For example, a young person with very leftist political leanings might despise their parents’ or grandparents’ conservative ideas and behaviors. And vice versa, for that matter.

Certain behaviors might also be off-putting, from condescension and arrogance to gossip and criticism.

So what happens when you catch yourself saying or doing something you’ve always despised?

Did you hear a phrase come out of your mouth and were appalled to realize you sound just like your parent?

Or maybe, in a particular situation, you felt a wave of emotion and worried that you were being as arrogant, judgmental, or even racist as someone you’ve hated in the past?

If you have, you’re not alone. These are common occurrences that most people will deal with at some point in their life.

Let’s look at where these reactions or aversions can spring from and how to curb them.

What is it exactly that you hate?

Self-analysis is foundational to personal growth, and this situation is no different.

When it comes to analyzing why you have either appetitive or aversive thinking, it’s crucial to return to where these preferences and dislikes came from. Be honest with yourself about why you loathe the things you do, even if that means facing some brutal truths.

Furthermore, it’s essential to differentiate between hating something specifically versus despising it because of a person you felt embodied something integral.

Let’s say you were raised in a very strict religious household. One of the central tenets of the faith you were raised in was not to judge others. Yet everyone around you may have considered others horribly for not following the same religion. You may have been very aware of that type of hypocrisy and loathed it, yet now, years later, you find yourself exhibiting a similar judgmental attitude towards others.

Furthermore, it’s essential to recognize whether you feel negatively towards something because of a trauma you experienced.

Take, for instance, a person who loved a religion they were raised in but were abused by someone in a position of power in their faith community. They may develop a hatred for their religion because it is directly associated with their abuser.

This kind of situation can be excruciating, as the person who’s been traumatized ends up losing a support system that means a great deal to them. They’ll be filled with emotions ranging from anger and betrayal to grief over loss. All of those feelings together can manifest as “hatred” when in fact, it’s a maelstrom of a dozen different traumas to work through.

Be very specific about your emotions and what caused them.

Write down precisely what it is you’re feeling about absolutely everything. Start at the beginning, e.g., when you first became aware of the hypocrisy and judgment you disliked so much. Take note of how it made you feel, both about yourself and the people you heard being so judgmental (and hypocritical).

Then, determine what made you behave in a judgmental manner towards someone else. Was there a particular trigger that set you off? Did you feel morally superior at that moment? Or was there a sincere desire to “help” the other person because you thought you’d be able to elevate them from their current situation?

You may discover that your actions are rooted in fear because you’re having a crisis of faith and are projecting your difficulties onto others.

Or maybe you’re feeling immense compassion for what the fallout of this person’s actions might be, and there’s a sincere desire to help make things better for them. You just don’t know how to, so your first instinct is judgment and condemnation.

Once you figure out where these thoughts and feelings are coming from, you’ll have a clearer idea of how to go about handling and reversing them.

Who’s telling you that you’re becoming the thing you hate?

While you’re doing this kind of soul-searching introspection, be aware of where the accusations of being the thing you hate are coming from.

Is this a self-observation? As in, did you notice that you said or did something that you sincerely dislike in other people? Or is it a partner or sibling who’s telling you that you’re becoming just like your parent?

If it’s your observation, then that shows an immense amount of personal awareness and desire for self-growth, and that’s awesome of you. In contrast, if it’s a partner or sibling who’s telling you that, examine their motivations for doing so.

On the one hand, they might feel hurt and confused to hear you saying (or see you doing) something that you both hated and feared when you were growing up. On the other hand, by telling you that you’re behaving a way that they know you dislike, they could be trying to control your behavior.

Some people try to manipulate others into acting a certain way by shaming them into doing so.

“What you resist persists.”

Or, to phrase it differently, we tend to fall in the direction we’re leaning towards. If you feel a great deal of contempt for cold and distant people, you might obsess over that kind of behavior. Then, when you’re in a position where you’re dealing with other people, you may be so caught up in your thoughts that you end up being cold and distant towards them.

Without even intending to do so, you’ve fallen into the same behavioral patterns you’ve disliked.

Similarly, some people might find themselves echoing the same criticisms towards others that were inflicted upon them in the past.

Let’s say a woman grew up in an environment where other people’s weight and appearance were commented on regularly. She might rebel against this kind of judgmental behavior and become a stalwart fighter for positive body image. Then one day, she meets up with someone she hasn’t seen in years, and her first response is to think that they’ve “let themselves go” and gained a ton of weight.

Instantly she’s horrified at her response, especially because it reminds her of the very things she grew up with and rebelled against. That doesn’t mean that she’s a bad person, but rather that what she was raised with became part of her subconscious mental chatter.

If you experience something like this, be gentle towards yourself and the person you’re being judgmental towards. At that moment, recognize that yes, this was a thought that came unbidden, but you’re going to let it go with compassion and self-forgiveness. Then say something positive to the person you were mentally judgmental towards. Let them know how wonderful it is to see them, compliment something they’re wearing, give your best wishes to their family.

Don’t give this behavior any strength by dwelling on the lapse. Just acknowledge it as an opportunity to rise above and move on.

Genetic echo is real but can be altered.

Genetic echo in this sense is focusing more on physical traits rather than emotional ones. Make no mistake, both are difficult to contend with.

It’s incredibly frustrating when and if you see mannerisms in yourself that you saw in a person you despised. For instance, if you grew up with awful, abusive parents, but now you hear an echo of your mother’s cackle in your laugh, or catch a glimpse of yourself in a shop window and cringe because you walk just like your father did.

Some genetic traits are going to manifest in our appearance and behaviors simply because they’re coded into us. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed with a bit of willpower and diligence.

Coming to terms with your genetic echo is huge, and once you own it, you can change it.

Let’s use the two examples mentioned above. If you don’t like how you sound when you laugh, you can train yourself to laugh differently. Same with how you walk; be conscious about changing your posture and natural gait. It only takes a few weeks to change an ingrained behavior, and even a subtle difference will set you free from the pattern you’re nervous about being locked into.

The same goes for your appearance. You can always change your hair color (even your eye color with contact lenses, if desired), shave your head, or you get plastic surgery if you want to go to lengthy measures.

When it comes to genetic echoes, these can also influence personality traits and preferences. Sort of like how you might dislike cilantro but love olives (just like your grandmother), or naturally lean towards specific entertainment genres, scents, and even clothing styles and hues.

Some people embody familial behavior patterns they despise via genetic predisposition, while others do them because of traumas they experienced. For example, a person who was devastated to find out that one of their parents cheated on the other may grow up to cheat on their spouse.

The thing is, these actions are conscious decisions, not an inevitability. Sure, our genes influence many things, and specific traumas might push us to repeat unhealthy cycles. Still, the vast majority of our behaviors – especially in adulthood – are consciously chosen.

As a result, you can make whatever choices you like to break these cycles and prevent you from becoming what you despise.

Forgive and let go of hate.

This may sound trite, but one of the best ways to avoid becoming what you hate is not to carry hate inside your heart. You might scoff at that or write it off as part of a “good vibes only” mentality, but that’s far from the truth.

When we examine other people’s poor behaviors, we can unravel those actions to discover where they came from in the first place. The reprehensible behaviors you may have seen in your friends, lovers, and family members may be the result of centuries’ worth of generational trauma. They behave the way they do because they’re deeply wounded, not simply because they’re jerks.

A person might have grown up disheartened and depressed because of their parents’ cynicism and general anger at the world. In turn, they decide they’re going to do everything in their power to not end up like that. But then life circumstances beat them down and break their hearts, and one day, they wake up to find that they’re cynical, angry people who complain about literally everything. They’ve become the very person they despised when they were growing up.

The good news is that this awareness provides an opportunity for real change to happen. In those moments of self-awareness, there’s the chance to take action to shift perspective and behavior. Even the tiniest adjustment can result in genuine, long-lasting differences.

Take notes and make minor changes day by day.

Keep a journal by your bedside and set aside half an hour to write in it every evening.

In it, write down the things that happened that you weren’t proud of, as well as the little victories you experienced. If you could transcend or change a behavior that you dislike immensely, then take the time to acknowledge how huge that is. That’s a massive shift towards being the person you want to be and is worth being proud of!

In contrast, if you did something that made you feel shame, try to forgive yourself for the slip-up. You are still growing and evolving, and missteps like these are great opportunities for you to do better. Every day offers you a new opportunity to learn how to become the best version of yourself.

If you feel a wave of anger towards someone in your past whom you despise and don’t want to act or sound like, take a few deep breaths. Then picture them in your mind’s eye, and say (either aloud or to yourself), “I forgive you and wish you happiness.”

You may be surprised to see how your deep loathing can dissipate when you focus on forgiveness and kindness rather than holding on to pain and resentment.

Try to let go of hate, and instead of a violent knee-jerk reaction whenever you’re opposed to something, take a subtle sidestep to switch direction. See this like moving your steering wheel gently to avoid something in the road. A gentle action will help you prevent it, but a severe jerking motion will likely ram you into a tree (or drive someone else into it).

These gentle readjustments will help better align you on your path, and you can step back onto it consciously any time you find yourself veering.

We’re all capable of great kindness as well as cruelty, but those conscious adjustments will ensure that you take the former path rather than the latter. 

Some final thoughts:

There’s an adage in therapy circles that if you’re asking whether you’ve lost your mind, you haven’t. It’s the people who are convinced that they’re perfectly sane and well-balanced who aren’t.

Similarly, those who paint themselves righteous, noble, moral, and “woke” tend to be polar opposites.

Why are we mentioning this? Simply because if you’re worried about becoming what you hate, then the chances are slim that you’re going to do so. You already have an aversion to this kind of thing, so you’ll be hypervigilant about not repeating or embodying it yourself.

It’s like a person who witnesses animal cruelty and becomes a diligent vegan who runs a sanctuary. That person might be terrified of ever abusing an animal, but their daily actions and life choices pretty much ensure that they never will.

You don’t have to worry about becoming what you hate because you’re consciously aware of your actions, words, and take regular steps to keep yourself in line. This type of simple awareness will ensure that you will not become what they are.

Hopefully, that helps grant you a measure of peace as you move forward on this journey.

Still not sure how not to become what you hate? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process of getting on and staying on a different and better path. Simply click here to connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.

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About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.