“Hate Well”: How To Deal With, Not Put Up With, Tolerations

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” [Romans 12:0 (NLT)]

What do you hate?

What do you hate? We are conditioned to find this question a little uncomfortable. We are generally taught that we shouldn’t hate anyone or anything; that it is somehow bad or anti-social. But before you answer the question, consider this point of view from Dr. Henry Cloud.

“What would you think, for example, about a person who said that he hates the following things: arrogance, lying, innocent people being hurt, harmful schemes, evil practices, telling lies about others, and things that stir up dissension among people?

“If a person said he hated those things, and his life demonstrated the truth of his claims, wouldn’t you be inclined to like that person? Even trust him? Wouldn’t it be easy to depend on such a person?” [Cloud 142]

So back to the question: What do you hate? What makes your blood boil? Hatred is a strong emotion and one many of us have been taught to avoid or at least hide away from expressing. Might hate have a valid — even constructive — use, if expressed and handled properly? Let’s consider that question.

What you tolerate grows.

Over the years, I’ve written a good deal about dealing with those things you are tolerating. (An idea I learned about from Thomas Leonard, the “father” of life coaching, and to whom I give credit for the concept.) Many of the things we tolerate, or put up with, are relatively minor — scratched sunglasses, a dirty car, a missing button from a favorite shirt, and so forth. Some things are not so minor – a failing relationship, a dead end job, an estranged family member. A danger of tolerating the things we put up with is this: What you tolerate grows.

We seldom have discussed the major tolerations . . . the things we say we hate but which we endure. Can we handle these the same way as lesser tolerations or is it more than a matter of degree? Can we learn to, in the words of Dr. Henry Cloud, “hate well”?

Pick your fights.

Dr. Cloud is a speaker, psychologist, co-host of the nationally broadcast radio show, New Life Live! and author of many books, including 9 Things You Simply Must Do (To Succeed In Love And Life), Integrity – The Courage To Meet The Demands Of Reality, and the NY Times best selling Boundaries. Dr. Cloud describes 3 ways that hate can be beneficial.

1. Hate moves us to pull away from harmful situations and characteristics. It allows us to “eliminate the danger of having it become part of us, as we do not allow ourselves to become attached to it.” [Cloud 144]

2. Hate motivates us to protect the things we value. Our hate becomes a “protective emotion, urging us to stand for the good things.” [Cloud 145]

3. “Hate moves to destroy the bad things, which are often the things that threaten the good.” [Cloud 145] Not only does hate cause us to protect those we love, but it moves us to rid the world of the “bad” things as an act of love. As Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels tell us in Coming Alive, when you act in congruence with the principles of the Higher World (by resisting “Part X”, the lower self), it benefits you and those around you AND releases a force that heals the universe. [Stutz and Micheals 207]

Hate, then, is a powerful motivator, if you use it wisely. Darren Hardy says: “People are either motivated by something they want or something they don’t want. Love is a powerfully motivating force. But so is hate. Contrary to social correctness, it can be good to hate. Hate disease, hate injustice, hate ignorance, hate complacency, and so on. Sometimes identifying an enemy lights your fire.” [Hardy 66]

“You Get What You Tolerate”

“By ignoring the problem, you raise your threshold for pain and make it easier to put up with more.” ~ Cheryl Richardson, Take Time For Your Life

I know people who are forever having problems with sales people and check out clerks in stores, waiters in restaurants, and so forth. They seem to always get the rude or incompetent ones. “If your standard for what you require in life and relationships is low, bad things will ooze into your life just as water dribbles to the lowest spot of ground.” [Cloud 160] If you allow rudeness (and if you are rude), then rude people will find you. You’ll get what you tolerate. If you allow hurtful behavior (or you hurt others), then hurtful people will find you. You’ll get what you tolerate. “Choosing what you hate,” says Dr. Cloud, “is serious business. What will you tolerate? What will you not? . . . Remember that what you do not hate well is going to find its way into your life.” [Cloud 161]

How To Hate Well

In one way, dealing with a major toleration — the thing you hate — is similar to dealing with minor tolerations. In either case, if you don’t actively address them, they are only going to get bigger.

The bigger issues, of course, are going to require more than making a list, scheduling a time to deal with the items, then working through the list. Here are some additional steps to consider.

Start with your values.

Defining and living from your “Valid Values” is a fundamental step in living the Excelerated life. The Valid Values Excelerator is a tool that leads you through an intentional process to clarify your top most (“valid”) values. You must know what you stand for to know what you stand against.

The Valid Values Excelerator guides you through the steps to understanding when you express your values and when you do not and how that impacts your life. It isn’t a quick exercise but the insight you receive is worth the time and effort.

Subjective vs. objective.

Dr. Cloud reminds us that there are two kinds of hate: objective and subjective. Subjective hate is a nebulous feeling that lives inside us, waiting to be expressed. Anything can set it off. [Cloud 151 – 157] Subjective hate can be transformed into objective hate, “the kind of hate that solves problems, protects things that you value, and stands against the things that you do not want in your life.” [Cloud 153]

When I was younger, I had a problem with sudden and irrational outbursts of anger. I was easy-going and calm most of the time, but any small annoyance could unexpectedly turn me into a raging storm of anger. Through counseling, I learned that I was holding in small expressions of irritation which accumulated like blowing up a balloon. Eventually, when the balloon gets too full, it pops. This is similar to subjective hate. Instead of focusing the emotion on the one thing that is causing the feeling, it gets directed at whatever is in its path. Not healthy and not productive — nothing is done to solve the real issue.

When you turn subjective hate to objective hate, then you begin to deal effectively with the object of your hatred. You can calmly and rationally address the specific event or person that is causing you pain. You begin to set boundaries and realize the benefits of hating well.

What’s the payoff?

Both subjective and objective hate have a payoff. Determine what you are getting for hanging on to the things you are putting up with. After you know the payoff, count the cost — what is putting up with the issue costing you? Once you know the payoff and the cost, you may find that it is too “expensive” to hang on to.

Of course, you won’t wipe out injustice in a single day. You won’t change a difficult boss in one meeting. You can’t transform a rebellious teenager overnight. But you can get started. You can take the first step. Maybe you need assertiveness training. Or to develop skills in conflict resolution. Maybe a class in anger management. Remember this – your situation won’t change until you do.

There is a difference between being tolerant and tolerating annoyances, irritations, or evil. To be tolerant is to accept other viewpoints, beliefs, and opinions, even if you disagree with them. Tolerating is to put up with situations or other people’s behaviors when they are bad for you. Quit doing it. Learn to hate well. Protect yourself and your family and contribute to the healing of the world. That is embracing the Excelerated life!

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Dealing with the things you’ve been tolerating is one step in creating your Excelerated life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.


Cloud, Ph.D., Henry. 9 Things You Simply Must Do To Succeed In Love And Life. New York: MJF Books, 2004

Hardy, Darren. The Compound Effect. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010

Michaels, Barry and Phil Stutz. Coming Alive. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2017

Richardson, Cheryl. Take Time For Your Life. New York: Broadway Books, 1999

tolerate nothing

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