In Japan we have a great thing called yo-ji-jyuku-go (四字熟語). These are idiomatic phrases made out of four kanji characters. For those who aren’t familiar with the Japanese language, kanji characters are logographic characters. Instead of each character having just a sound, it also has a specific meaning. Throughout the ages Japanese scholars have put together four different kanji characters to express profound life truths. A great one I came across recently was dou-zoku-ken-o（同族嫌悪). Literally translated this idiom consists of the characters, “same”, “family”, “hate”, and “bad”. It means that we dislike people who are like us.
This may sound strange, because your first instinct may be to think that conversely we are drawn to people who are like us. This is still true. When we encounter people who are like us we feel strong love and affection. On the other hand, if these people do not resemble us at all, we feel indifference. But what if these people are just like us, but resemble aspects of ourselves that we don’t like? That’s when hate rumbles from within. We really don’t like it when other people mirror aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to accept.
A frequently portrayed example of this is the school bully who beats up homosexuals, only to discover later that he is gay himself. Him beating up other poor boys is an outer manifestation of what he does internally to himself daily. We resent people for bringing up feelings that we try so hard to suppress and push down. We hate them because we are just like them. This is what this idiom succinctly teaches.
We only accept in others what we accept within ourselves. The school bully who finally embraces his sexuality will stop hurting his colleagues. This is why people who piss us off are actually our greatest teachers. The anger that wells us from inside tells us that there are parts of ourselves we haven’t accepted and integrated into our being.
Now, you may be thinking that perhaps we suppress things for good reasons. You don’t like Trump for example, because you don’t like how misogynistic he is. And sure, according to what I’ve been saying this would mean that you don’t accept misogynistic thoughts within yourself, but isn’t this a good thing? If you accepted misogyny you would think it’s ok to be horrible to women.
Well no. If you thought this then you have fallen into one of the big misunderstandings about acceptance. Acceptance of thoughts does not equate directly to any form of action (or non-action for that matter). Put it this way, if everyone who accepted their misogynistic thoughts were a misogynist, by the same logic all crime writers would be serial killers. They spend their days unapologetically exploring some of the darkest of ideas, but they are very much normal citizens of society.
To accept is to simply confront and observe various thoughts and emotions as they arise, without judgment. If a misogynistic thought arises, for example, you can simply look at it. You don’t have to act on it. All you have to do is let it bubble up inside yourself and let it go. In fact, the only way such thoughts are released is through acceptance. However, most of us are afraid to peek at the darker ideas that come out of ourselves. We push the thoughts down, build strong walls around them hoping they will never crop up again. That is, until we bump into someone who embodies the very thoughts and emotions we’ve been suppressing. Then suddenly the barriers we tried so hard to build come crashing down, and we hate it. The irony is, you never would have had your walls fall down if you hadn’t built them in the first place.
When you don’t like someone, it’s an invitation to look within to see what exactly it is that you don’t like about them, and then in turn understand what it is you don’t like about yourself. It’s a golden opportunity to shine the light of acceptance on this trait that exists within you. You hate it when people are childish? That’s because you don’t accept the child within you. But ask yourself — what is really “wrong” with being childish?
This even applies to so-called negative traits. If you don’t like someone because they are rude, that’s because you don’t accept the rude person within you. But if you can learn to accept this aspect of yourself, you can then approach this person with calm and love, rather than hate. This isn’t to say you let them get away with their rudeness. You can still say softly to this person that being rude does not help solve the situation. If anything, your calm and composed energy is likely to deflate any tension there was in the first place.
Hate yourself, hate others. Love yourself, love others.