Why I Love Loving What I Hate (AKA, Reality Doesn’t Pick Sides)

A lot of my favorite people had a hard time growing up. Some of us were made fun of by our friends, some had abusive family situations, some suffered real hunger and fear of imminent death and some suffered with extreme states of mind.

A lot of my favorite people have learned from these struggles, and have found a way of becoming inspiring because of it. And some of them are going to someday, I can feel it.

Recently I told a friend that I felt really confident about my new job. He suggested to really savor the feeling and write about it because “someday, you might really need it.” When my ravenous insecurity hits, I want to remember how it felt to feel confident and capable.

In the spirit of that encounter, I want to share something that I’ve been feeling good about lately, which is my ability to identify, appreciate, and learn from my hatred of some things.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my studies of academia and real life, it is that things are rarely black and white. One person full-heartedly believes one thing and someone else believes the opposite, and reality has never once really chosen a side. It has a compassionate ear in both directions to anyone who cares to listen.

So, my hatred of things is something that I’m pretty sure is not ever completely accurate. My insecurity, fear, anxiety, and repulsion is often times a red flag for me to look closer.

“I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

What’s really going on here? I mean, really?

Oh, right, reality doesn’t pick sides. It just is. Lots of things at once, like a minestrone soup. You can eat it in many ways. Maybe you eat the carrot pieces first because you want to get them out of the way before you get to the chunks of potato, or maybe you eat all the noodles first because you love them and want to throw away the rest anyway. Who knows. There’s lots of ways to eat it, and it’s all there when you care to look at it. If you try eating it in a new way, something new may emerge. Maybe you like carrots more than you used to when you slow down and savor their flavor, maybe the taste of asparagus is exactly what you needed. Can you even put asparagus in soup? Anything’s possible.

The more curiosity that I hold towards things that are unappealing, the more that I learn. I learn about my fear of a certain type of situation, I learn about what other nuances exist in it. This helps me when I want to write fiction, it also helps me when I want to work with people who have more extreme fears, anxieties, phobias and repulsions than I do.

We can all relate to each other. It’s really not that hard. And yet, it’s scary. It’s scary to relate to someone with depression when you feel as if you are happy. What if they bring you down? Well you know what? If you are avoiding relating to that person, I would question the authenticity of your happiness all together. Happiness based on protection from the things that are quote-unquote “not happy” is not any type of happiness that I would want to be a part of. No siree.

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”
Pema Chödrön

So as I step into a feeling of confidence with my job, and take a gentle inventory of the most useful things I have to offer myself, my curiosity about my hatred is one of my top faves. At least for now.

What about you, have you learned from hardship in your life? Do you feel like it has made you a better person in the long run?

Do you like relating to people with love even if they are in a hard place in their life right now?

I’m curious. As always, thank you for reading. You guys truly rock.

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22 thoughts on “Why I Love Loving What I Hate (AKA, Reality Doesn’t Pick Sides)

    • That’s a great quote! I’m glad you like the post 🙂 I actually edited it far less than usual..it just seemed okay as it was. I’m super glad that you enjoyed it, and I will commit that quote to memory!

  1. Jennifer, the longer I hang around you in these pages, the more I love your eyes. Truly. Another ancient sage chimes in with you: “Be not righteous overmuch; be not wicked overmuch; it’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.” So said Koheleth (in Western culture we know him as Ecclesiastes). Suffering is the one pathway that takes us beyond our present definitions of happiness (as I type with chemoed, burning hands and prickly feet!). I’m blessed to have you as a fellow-traveler during some very long days. 🙂

    • I am so glad that you like these words, and that you always magnify the core of them with some great wisdom! I hope that the prickles go away soon for you, and that there is more relief than now. I was saying to someone the other day that I feel like when I’m in real suffering, my mind is clearer and sees things in perspective, but when nothing is really wrong or up, then my mind feels more terrified of every little thing and gets more selfish. Pain and suffering are strange things, and the ways that we relate to them are endlessly interesting. I hope you feel well soon 🙂

  2. Thank you for your insights. I especially enjoyed the eating soup analogy. After doing years of inner “shadow work,” I have come to a similar place in my own life of loving the things I hate. When I get really ticked off by someone’s behavior, I KNOW it is a signal for me to look inside myself to find the answers. Usually it is some part of myself that I have judged ss wrong or bad, a part I have been denying. But when I can come with compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance, then a wholeness opens up for me. It brings a deep level of contentment and joy.
    . I appreciate your writing about all of this in a way that has brought me to an even greater appreciation for those things that make me growl.

    • Aw I’m so glad you like it! I have learned of some types of shadow-work (I think it means the same thing in my mind as in yours..not 100% positive though) and it is so interesting how when someone points it out, you can start to see it more easily. Then at least once it’s seen, it can be worked with, because the whole picture is there.
      One of the hardest things for me is to see the parts of myself that I find triggering in others. Sometimes that’s the first place I turn, other times it’s the last (“because there’s no way part of me would ever be like THAT!”) but yeah, that is often times the culprit. And the more gentleness and compassion we can have for ourselves, the more we can have it for others and then for ourselves again 🙂 Thanks so much for engaging!

      • From your reply, I’m pretty sure we have the same (Carl Jung) definition of Shadow Work. I’ve been studying under Debbie Ford (Ford Institute for Transformational Training) for the last 7 years. Awesome stuff! I’m now a Master Certified Shadow Coach. Love the work.

  3. As always Jennifer, you deliver a great post which provokes much thinking. I am glad that you are able to analyse what you do not like and find some kind of appreciation and enjoyment in such an often negative connotation.
    With regards to your first question, I believe that not every hardship can lead to a positive conclusion. For instance, you referenced that some people were forced to endure hardships and inevitably became inspiring individuals. This is great, however, on the other hand, the opposite could happen. If a person is forced to endure hardships, say, at the hands of others, and is treated unfairly, the way they may deal with the situation is to quite simply become it..One is treated badly, so they inevitably become bad, and end up having negative opinions on even the most positive of occurrences, and when they are shown gratitude and humility, they are unable to comprehend such an emotion, and so instead lash out aggressively. My apologies if this is a very negative opinion.
    With regards to your second question however, yes I do prefer to relate to people with love even when they are experiencing hardships. I don’t know if this is pertinent, but for instance, when my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I did my best to support him as positively as possible even when the times were tough, and when friends of mine have lost loved ones I have done my best to comfort them in their time of need.
    Your positivity Jennifer is, as always, very illuminating, and even in the gathering dark, you make humanity shine so brightly. Cheers!

    • I agree with you about how some types of situations can really break people. Sometimes it’s all too much- especially if they didn’t have anyone kind around during those early days. Then there’s not even a potential for how a good human could look. I agree completely, and I don’t think that’s negative, I think it’s just true..and that there is always potential to change in the future if that person decides they want to seek some type of help.
      You do strike me as someone that would be there during the hardest of times, and that’s such a great thing to do. People sometimes find a reduction of support when they need it most. I’m so glad that you have that type of energy to help others and be there for them, thanks for spreading some awesome energy out there into the universe!

  4. Great post, Jennifer. I have found that the things I hate and fear the most have taught me the most important lessons. These things have gifted me the life I would not trade for anything, so I am grateful for these “obstacles.” I agree that “loving what you hate” reveals a strength of character born out of self-introspection.

    • Thank you so much! A lot of my most important lessons and greatest feelings of accomplishment are also born of those particular feelings..it’s so weird. It’s like a built-in blueprint of how to enjoy things and yet it’s so hard to follow. I’ve never once looked back on a chunk of my life and said “You know what? I’m just so happy that I completely avoided that particular thing I was afraid of for those two years. That was the greatest two years ever.”

      • LOL, Jennifer. I often find myself thinking, “Thank God I screwed up because now I am here,” or “Good thing I lost my job/girlfriend/money/pride because that allowed me to pursue this.”
        I can’t think of one time I have thought being afraid of something has benefited me. I love the way you put it–“That was the greatest two years ever.”

  5. Indeed a good post. I feel as if life has been a ‘learning by mistakes’ process so far… but the consequence has been to limit rather than widen my dealings with people and an avoidance of putting myself in difficult of awkward situations. I know myself and my limitations, I know how to work with my own fear and stress and I know it’s not always the same as that of other people. In a way this is insular and inhibiting but at the same time it’s comforting to be in control. Fiona

    • Thank you Fiona! I feel like I do a similar thing, learning my own fears and things and then trying to work with them. Some of them are super intense and specific, and those are the ones that seem to frustrate others because they don’t have them, and so now I try to pretend like maybe “what would I do if those fears just weren’t there for five minutes?” and see if I can step outside that bubble a bit..only with the ones that are really limiting my life. Thank you so much for reading and sharing 🙂

  6. The issues that you bring up always seem to be the ones that are relevant right now. Perhaps you just help me see where I need to bring attention in my life. You are so good at it. It’s like I’m asking you questions from thousands of miles away and you are answering them.

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