We have all given in to the temptation of revenge or hate at some point. Maybe, and I hope that is the case, not to the extent of committing a grave crime like a murder or something similar, but small “misdeeds” like swearing at somebody in traffic just because they cut you off earlier, or saying hurtful things to someone just because their words hurt you first.
Sometimes we intentionally do things that hurt others, either physically, financially, emotionally, or boost our ego at the expense of others’, but as soon as the deed is done, we feel bad ourselves because of what we did. We don’t like the person performing these actions (ourselves), yet we tend to repeat them over and over on other similar occasions. We’d normally not engage in these actions, but we allow ourselves to change, just for that moment, just to “get back” at the other person.
While this is one side to our nature, there’s another aspect – that of a growing sense of independence and individuality within us, specially in the younger generation. We declare that we don’t want to change for anything or anyone in the world – even when that “anyone” is someone close, a loved one. We want them to accept us the way we are. And if they can’t, we are even willing to let the relationship go in some cases.
So the question that we should ask ourselves is: why is it that we let “hate” change us so easily, while we stubbornly refuse to change for “love”?
I think the answer to that depends on self-introspection as it could be different for different people, but I feel it can be related to three main reasons.
One is that we are not always watchful enough to realise that every action we perform, every word we say, against a hurt, real or perceived, is a statement for the kind of world we think we live in (which may or may not be correct), and an opportunity to endorse the kind of world we’d like to live in.
Somebody cutting you off in traffic doesn’t always mean that they wanted to offend you. But by reacting from a place of “hate”, you make a statement that you think the right reaction to somebody’s poor (according to your standard) driving skills is to get worked up about it and / or even shout obscenities at them.
Similarly, by not reciprocating to someone’s hurtful comments, we take the opportunity to show that arguments don’t necessarily have to escalate to become ever more abusive, that it’s possible to be the bigger person and move on.
The second reason is that we do not realise that though these deeds may seem small, insignificant even, yet, they could have a lasting impact on us. Even small actions, done over a period of time, can affect the person we become. There’s a famous saying that goes:
“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”
I can’t say for anyone else, but I feel like I’ve become a more irritable driver than I used to be.
While the first two reasons deal with changing easily when reacting from a place of “hate”, the third reason deals with why we resist changing for “love”, and the reason is our perception of change.
The thought of change can be scary – how difficult it would be to change; the effort it would require; what kind the kind of person we’d become after changing; the idea of losing the current version of the person we are and becoming someone else. That’s why, when confronted with a conscious decision to change, we are reluctant unless we have clear information on the outcome, and the path we need to take to get there.
The solution to any problem begins with an understanding of the problem itself. Once we know the cause of it, we can work on finding the best way to deal with it. The above three reasons are in no way the only interpretation of this paradox. But if you feel that they are valid points, I hope they provided you a glimpse of the way forward – of trying to be more conscious and aware of even the small changes that are happening to us; asking questions, introspecting; embracing change when required, without fear, but only after evaluating whether it’s a “positive” one or a “negative” one. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, for example, is one “positive” change we should all strive for. Becoming a better human being, another.