All of us have been on the receiving end of hatred at some point in our lives. No matter how nice you think you are, I’m sure you’ve got some haters too- haters that you know of and haters that you don’t know of, at least not yet.
In this article, we explore the psychology of haters.
Hatred and psychological pain
The most basic condition that must be fulfilled before someone can hate you is that you need to cause that person some degree of psychological pain.
There’s no hatred possible without the idea of pain. So whenever someone hates you, you must automatically assume that you’ve caused the person some sort of psychological pain, intentionally or unintentionally.
Also, it could be that they’ve somehow convinced themselves that you’re a threat to them even if it has nothing to do with reality, as happens in the case of prejudice. When people hate others who’re different than them, they seem them as potentially harmful to their own well-being.
Now, hatred is an emotion that motivates us to avoid pain, which, at times, takes the form of derogating people who cause us pain.
After all, if we derogate people who’ve caused us pain, we feel better about ourselves because not only do we overpower the source of our pain and gain control but we also get our sweet revenge by inflicting pain on them.
Following are the two most common ways in which you, knowingly or unknowingly, might turn someone into your hater…
When you hurt their ego
All human beings have a strong need to feel superior and special. People even develop psychological disorders just to protect their ego.
So whenever you see someone spewing their hatred on you, try asking yourself this question, “How did I hurt this person’s ego?” and you’ll be surprised how everything becomes clear.
Internet is a place where you see a lot of haters and trolls. Open any populated discussion thread and you’re likely to see people trolling each other. Why do they do that?
Mostly, it’s nothing more than a battle of egos. A person posts something, those who don’t like what they see start trolling.
The original poster’s ego gets hurt and he starts trolling back, which in turn hurts the ego of the original troller… and on and on goes the struggle to strive for superiority. Soon people take sides and we witness a virtual World War.
When you get something they wanted badly
Often, this results in jealousy but since jealousy is so painful an emotion, hatred also ensues toward the person we’re jealous of.
So, the other important question that you need to ask yourself if someone hates you is, “What have I got that this person wanted badly?”
Usually, the person will give you an indirect hint about what it is the possession of which they despise in you.
For instance, say you’re promoted in your office and commit a small mistake whilst working on a project. Even if your boss is okay with it, your colleagues may ridicule you or make fun of you out of their hatred towards you.
They may say things like, “Since when did they start promoting morons?” or “I knew you were not good enough for this position”.
Clearly, these people hate you because you’ve got something that they wanted badly- promotion. Their hatred makes them attack you and ridicule you so that you feel undeserving or unworthy of what you’ve got and perhaps even give it up- so that it’s up for grabs for them!
Any type of achievement that you make has the potential of turning your peers into haters.
Hatred as a defence mechanism
Some people hate the way they hate because they’ve been hated that way. It might be that a person who frequently calls you dumb, stupid, fool, geek, loser, bitch or other such epithets may have actually been called that in the past by someone else.
Here’s how this works: When a person receives hateful comments he’s likely to get hurt, that’s human nature. But the primary task of our subconscious is to protect us from being hurt.
So the subconscious mind of a person who experiences hurt feelings comes up with a plan to prevent the same thing from happening in the future:
I will hurt others before they even dare to hurt me.
This way, his mind comes up with defence before there’s any chance of attack from the other side, a preemptive strike.
His subconscious wants to leave no stone unturned to be prepared this time- even if it means to attack first. As the saying goes, “Attack is the best form of defence”.
Since all this happens unconsciously, the person may not even be aware of the fact that he’s actually getting back at people who had previously hurt him by hating other innocent people! (see bullying).
The fine line between constructive criticism and hatred
Let’s face it, most people simply don’t know how to criticize constructively. Even if they have something useful to say, they colour it with hatred and derogation due to which their important message gets lost in the war of the egos.
On the flip side, it’s easy to fall into the trap of dismissing someone as a ‘hater’ just because they hold opinions different than yours.
The mind wants to protect its beliefs and likes to hate those who threaten its beliefs. That’s what you need to be careful of.
But you can rest assured that those who criticize constructively don’t usually resort to derogation because they know their arguments are strong.
Those whose arguments are weak are likely to use hatred to compensate for it and make their arguments appear stronger.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve written 280+ articles and published one book about human behavior on this blog that has garnered over 3 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur.