Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

Transforming hate into something better

on January 21, 2015

I have a whole post in mind about laundry and you’re gonna see it soon. But yesterday a friend asked this question on Facebook, “What do you do when you really hate something? Can you learn to like it, even a little bit?”

A pet peeve.

A pet peeve.

What a great question. I thought about throwing out some tips, but the more I thought I realized more information was needed. So I asked for, and got, the details of her situation. And I passed on some thoughts that were specific to her situation. Now that got me to thinking (start of rabbit trail)

What if I change the tagline of my blog from “Like having a big sister, but better because I can’t boss you around.” to “Heloise meets Carrie Bradshaw” (because on “Sex and the City” Carrie was always starting her work with, “and that got me to thinking.” But wait. I’m like Carrie Bradshaw minus everything that makes her Carrie Bradshaw, except that question.

Aaaaand we’re back. Then I realized that although there are specifics to each situation, there are a few general principle that apply to anything we don’t like. It won’t work on pet peeves. (I will NEVER fail to be riled up about women leaving the toilet seat cover on the toilet for the next person to deal with. C’mon girls. That’s not nice. And it’s gross.) But a change in perspective is definitely called for because when you don’t like something, it controls you. And you can call it whatever you like: hate, irritation, resentment, negativity. Those things only hurt you. I’ve heard, “Having a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the enemy to die”

For your consideration I offer some ways to deal with (let’s call it what it is) the stuff that irritates the shit out of you.

  • Beware the roving eye of discontent. I grew up at a time when military shows were on TV a lot. I was fascinated by radar screens, where they would be scanning an area and little blips would show when they found something. That’s what the roving eye of discontent feels like to me. Like I’m scanning, constantly scanning, for whatever is not right in the world. In other drivers. In my house. In my circumstances. In me. For years my strategy for dealing with this was running and while that doesn’t work for everybody, physical movement truly can interrupt a mind gone bad.
  • Find the good. This one’s tricky, because there are some circumstances that are empirically bad, to my way of thinking. I’m not talking Pollyanna thinking, but rather taking your brain and finding something good in whatever you don’t like. For example, “thank God I’m not as giant of an asshole as that guy.” At first glance that may seem inflammatory, but if you really consider the statement, it can go from an exclamation of anger to a prayer.
  • Teachers all around. For years I have loved Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild (a wonderful book) and Tiny Beautiful Things (an even better book). Now she has a podcast called “Dear Sugar” which is based on an online advice column she wrote some years back, under the pseudonym “Sugar.” In the inaugural episode, she talks about “dark teachers.” I won’t reveal the context of this term, but suffice to say that it has to do with an evil act. What blew my mind was the idea that something could be learned, even from something horrendous.
  • What we seek gets bigger. Here’s an experiment to try. Choose a color. Any color. Now scan your environment for things of that color. (If you’re outside in nature, don’t choose green. That’s too easy.) I’ll bet you are able to find matches for the color you chose. So if we’re looking for what’s bad, you’d better believe we’ll find it. But if we’re actively seek the good, we’ll find that too.
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