Why do certain people irritate us or rub us wrong while others don’t?
You can be the most loving, kind, down to earth, open-minded person on the planet and STILL get extremely annoyed by certain people.
There are billions of us on the planet. The fact is we are not going to get along with everyone.
I can remember years ago studying Carl Jung who famously said, “Everything that irritates us about another can lead up to an understanding of ourselves.”
This may be a tough idea to get behind for many of us. For instance, if we don’t care for someone who is selfish, we wouldn’t think we dislike this individual because we, ourselves, are in fact selfish.
Yet Jung purported that if you are open enough to the idea, what you dislike about others, can teach you about yourself.
I think it is easier to apply this when the shoe is on the other foot. What I mean by this is it is easier to apply this theory when other people project their negative qualities onto us instead of when we are projecting our negative qualities onto someone else. I remember a couple of times in my past when people projected onto me the qualities that were in fact their own. Before I was trained as a psychotherapist, in all likelihood I would have reacted. Being in this profession, I am cognizant of when someone is projecting and knowing this, I feel no need to react (although being human I do slip up from time to time and always kick myself for doing so)!
There is no need to react or defend ourselves against other people’s projections. Those projections are theirs. We do not need to OWN other people’s stuff.
Usually when someone is projecting, they are trying to offload their negative qualities onto you.
Thus when someone is dumping their disowned feeling on you, if you are conscious enough, you cease the need to react at all.
The fact is everyone is your mirror.
According to Jung, we all have a shadow self.
The shadow is irrational, prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else (Jung).
Our shadow is an innate part of ALL of us, yet the vast majority of us are blind to its existence.
Many of us do our best to hide our negative qualities, not only from others but from ourselves. Thus we often criticize and condemn others to ensure the focus does not fall our destructive tendencies and fault.
Many of us are only conscious of our persona. The persona is the social mask we as individuals present to the world. It is the public image of someone.
Underneath the mask we show to the world, our shadow remains unconscious and can wreak havoc in our life.
The Shadow is all the thoughts and emotions we repress as being socially inappropriate. Rage, envy, jealousy, schadenfreude (the pleasure we derive from another person’s misfortune). This is all shadow material. The more we repress shadow material, the more of a hold it has on us.
But what about if we are talking about people we don’t merely dislike but people we hate?
See when we dislike someone, we simply avoid this person. We don’t feel the need to rage about them, yell at them, fixate on them. We do not want to get into a back and forth with them. Dislike suffices. We just move on with our life and limit our contact with this person as much as humanly possible.
Hatred is a whole other animal. Hate often arises because we see another as an “enemy.” In this enemy we see a part of ourselves we hate. Yet whatever we hate about our “enemy” can be explained by simple fact: they trigger dormant feelings of shame and inferiority.
The more insecure you are, the more you feel attacked by others, regardless of whether they are in actual attacking you or not.
How insecure you are will play a factor in whether you merely dislike someone or if you hate them.
Dislike vs. Hatred
Let us differentiate between mere dislike and hatred. When you dislike someone, you rather NOT be around them. You do not want to interact with them because it is unpleasant. You do not wish ILL on this person and if anything you feel apathetic for them. Many you even pity them because you recognize how unhappy and miserable they are by their behavior. When you dislike someone, you don’t care to give them much thought or energy.
Disliking people is normal throughout life. Yet for the most part, we are going to be neutral towards people. We will not like them NOR dislike them.
Hatred, on the other hand, means you consider a person an enemy and a threat. Thus you are invested in their destruction. You wish ill on them and want to see them destroyed.
When you hate someone:
~you obsess over them. You will gossip and smear them to anyone who listens. You cannot let go of what they said or did.
~you feel good when something bad happens to them. If something good happens to them, you try to minimize it or dismiss it.
~you try to convince others of how horrible and evil this person is. You think people must know the “truth” about him or her. You desperately seek confirmation from others about how horrible this person is.
Long story short, the difference between hatred and dislike is the former involves time and effort while the latter involves apathy.
Personally, I have people I dislike but hatred to me is not something I allow myself to engage in because I am conscious of the fact it would just make ME miserable and unhappy. It also takes WAY too much energy and time to hate someone (and who has that?!) It destroys the person who feels it not the target of contempt and disdain. I believe is certain situations we all are capable of feeling hatred towards another person in passing but this emotion is not a fixture in our lives.
In psychologically unhealthy people, hatred may be felt by anyone who dare challenges their worldview or opinions (any famous figures coming to mind?!)
When you hate someone you feel compelled to verbally spar with them not because you want to win but you don’t want to lose. (Once again, people we hate trigger in us shame and inferiority). A person you just dislike, you don’t care to get into it with them. To you, it isn’t worth the energy. If you dislike someone, you aren’t being triggered by shame and inferiority. The person’s behavior just rubs you wrong (maybe they are in fact just obnoxious). And hey, if Jung has taught us anything, it is that we TOO can be obnoxious and rub people wrong!
Although most people would never acknowledge it, people who hate other people generally hate someone who they feel threatened by or triggers their feelings of inferiority.
You usually hate someone who exposes or highlights your issues, baggage, and insecurities.
If you hate someone, you feel that this person is trying to expose your flaws to the world. Hatred is a very irrational emotion. The fact is most people are not interested in exposing your flaws (unless they are abusive or a bully). Most of us are just trying to hide our own flaws.
Hatred is a slippery slope. It is not wrong to get threatened or angry with other people, yet in taking it to the level of hatred, you are dwelling and ruminating on your own hate.
If we hate someone, we feel they are diminishing us. If you feel this emotion, it is time to begin the process of release.
Counseling may be a good place to start to weaken the grasp this toxic emotion has on you.
Hate will not go away on its own. You need to actively work at releasing its toxic hold on you.
Hate makes us want to fight. Dislike makes us want to not engage.
Hate makes us irrational. Dislike makes us rationalize.
Hate makes us want to smear the person to ANYONE who will listen. Dislike makes us not even care to mention the person’s name because they aren’t on our mind.
Hate makes us want to seek revenge. Dislike makes us avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with this individual.
It is possible to move from hatred to dislike.
Release the judgements.
Move on with your own life.
Being compassionate can mean walking away without saying ANYTHING. Often no answer is the best answer.
When we are at peace with ourselves, we stop being at war with others.
To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):
Anew Counseling Services LLC
617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649