(Note: this is a companion piece to my recent article How To Stop Hating Women. I also write the following article primarily directed at heterosexual women, since that demographic makes up the majority of my readership.)
One of the most challenging, and often invisible, themes that keep people from progressing in their relationships (and their lives) is their unprocessed anger with the opposite sex.
It can actually be quite common for women to have repressed anger towards men and to only be in touch with a small percentage of it.
This disowned anger can show up in any number of ways…
– Emasculating their romantic partner/men
– Assuming the worst of men in all situations
– Cutting/shaming remarks towards men that seem to come out of nowhere
– Struggling with co-workers/authority figures/employees that are male
– Having zero long-term male friends
– Only engaging in gendered social groups/going to great lengths to avoid men personally and professionally
And listen… I get it.
Your anger is justified.
Women have been treated as second class citizens in most cultures since the dawn of time. Women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920. Women were literal property in western society less than a hundred years ago. Women’s bodies have been policed, regulated, and limited, and their voices have been minimized and silenced. And men were the lawmakers who kept women down.
Not only that… anyone who has lived for more than a handful of years likely has many stories of times that men hurt them personally.
Maybe your male babysitter abused you.
Maybe you were a sexual assault victim at the hands of men. Maybe many times over many years.
Maybe you had male partners cheat on you, lie to you, or take advantage of you in a number of ways.
Maybe you had your heart broken many times at the hands of men and at a certain point you just felt completely done with it all.
Maybe you were part of a community that ended up being a cult, and men were the leaders of that cult and your trust was completely taken advantage of.
Maybe you have felt ignored, shamed, objectified, dismissed, or used by men.
Maybe you were a victim of domestic violence at the hands of a man.
Maybe you were made to feel like your body and/or your sexuality were never really your own, and that you only existed for the satisfaction and pleasure of men.
Maybe you were in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship with a man who manipulated you so thoroughly that you completely lost your sense of self and you slowly had to rebuild after all of the pain that you endured.
Maybe your father left when you were a child. Maybe your brother beat you up. Maybe the boys at your school bullied you mercilessly and decimated your self-esteem in a way that still stings to this day.
Any number of things could have happened in your relationships with men. And all of those things are real. Those things happened. People do truly horrible things, and I’m sorry that you have had those experiences.
But here’s the thing…
In life, we only ever have one choice to make, in every moment. We can either open our hearts to love, or we can close our hearts and guarantee our suffering.
Now… before I lose you for going too hippy too fast… here’s what I mean by that.
It’s easier to collapse in around our pain, and to project that pain on to something so that we feel safer in the world… than it is to feel the underlying pain and do our own individual healing work so that we can forgive the false, constructed, evil monolith in our minds (and set ourselves free in the process).
Our stories, fears, and personal biases feel like they protect us… when in reality, they simply keep us asleep.
It’s like walking through life with a blanket over your entire body that you can only partially see through. Sure, the blanket might be keeping you warm… and maybe it even gives you a sense of safety and predictability… but it also obscures your vision and makes your life more limited and contracted than it would be otherwise.
I’m not saying that the things that men have done to you are justified, at all. I’m sure you have felt immense pain, sadness, betrayal, and hurt at the hands of men. And I’m truly sorry for that.
But continuing on in life seeing all men as the enemy is just keeping you stuck in an old trauma response that isn’t serving you any longer.
Ultimately, if you aren’t at a time in your life where you are ready to hear that and let it in, even 5%, then there’s nothing I can do about that. You have to be willing to open your heart and let the pain start to flow through you (and make no mistake about it, there will be pain to feel). But whether or not you open to that pain now or you choose to continue letting it simmer inside of you, that will only ever be your decision to make.
The exact reason that you have anger or hated towards men is because there is unfelt hurt that still lives in your body. Otherwise there wouldn’t be the anger. Anger is a secondary emotion, and what it is most often hiding underneath is hurt and sadness.
If today is the day that you feel a bit more willing to start to let go of the anger, hurt, and sadness in your heart that you have towards men, then I really honour you for that. And I have a set of things that you can do that might just help you along in your process. You don’t have to do them all in a row… and you can even do them multiple times over the coming years if you feel so inclined (it might even be beneficial to do so).
This is the last thing I’ll say before we get into the actionable part of this piece…
A heart that is hardened with hatred is like the dry, cracked desert floor. If the desert floor is too dry, and water is applied to it, most of the water simply runs off and isn’t absorbed. But with repeated applications of water, slowly the ground softens and the water begins to be absorbed. In other words, you are applying love, compassion, and tenderness to these parts of your mind and heart, and in doing so, you get to progressively transition from contraction and anger, to love and compassion. It is allowed to take time, and it won’t necessarily be an overnight process.
Without further delay, here are a few things that I would suggest trying out, if you want to stop hating men.
1. Make a list of all of the terrible things that men have ever done to you
The first step in any healing journey is the reversal of denial, followed by ownership. In other words, reversing the denial of the fact that you still have anger/hatred towards men, and then acknowledging all of the reasons that your anger/hatred is being upheld.
Take out several pieces of paper, and physically write down all of the things that men have ever done to hurt you. All of the events, all of the terrible things they have said to you, all of the ways in which you were abused, victimized, or made to feel bad. Let it all hang out. This is not the time to hold back and/or make excuses for men.
I really encourage you to be as mean as possible during this step. Speak from your pain with full totality. There’s no need to include any softening statements like “But I know that he was doing the best he could with who he was at the time.” None of that. Go full, uncensored, vitriol-spewing bitch with it. “That useless fucking idiot… that spineless loser… that man-child waste of space… did XYZ to me.”
Depending on your unique history with men, this process may take some time. Once you are finished, move on to the next step.
2. Feel all of your feelings associated with those events, to the best of your ability
Having used the truth as a scalpel to open up your old wounds, now it is time to feel all of the pain, hurt, anger, and sadness that oozes out of those wounds.
For anger, try smashing a pillow on your bed or couch repeatedly (or scream into said pillow, to move your energy that way). Always make sure you do anger processing away from pets and small children, who don’t have the tools or awareness to know what you are doing. This is work best done by yourself, in a place where people won’t worry about you or the noises you make.
For sadness, try crying. Try throwing a temper tantrum and thrashing about on a bed. Try sobbing from the deepest depths of your pain. There’s energy inside you that wants to move… and you are allowed to let it.
Another important point to name here… is that it is imperative that you stay connected to your body during these emotional release practices.
It’s all too easy to eject out of our bodies and/or get lost in our stories when doing deep emotional work. Instead of staying connected to the movement of the anger/sadness itself, you might start picturing the painful events of your past, and focus too heavily on them. If you get lost in your head during emotional catharsis work, then this doesn’t actually move the energy through you… it just keeps it stuck and the cycle perpetuates.
If you need to, pause if it feels too overwhelming. Above all, you want to stay in the felt experience of it.
Having given your pain some breathing room, it’s now time to move on to the next step. The following steps are where we start to take ownership of some trickier parts of our mind, and this is where the real work begins (so don’t be surprised if your ego resists some or all of the following four steps). Steps 1 and 2 are likely to be the parts of this process where you have the most practice… and steps 3-6 are the ones where we start to wake up from our pain cycle and move into real healing.
3. Make a list of all of the things that you have ever done to men
Again, this is where the ego can start to kick up and you might experience some heightened resistance. The ego, that wants to maintain separation and be correct about its stories, craves the satisfaction of living behind the perpetually pointed finger. ‘Men are the problem! I have nothing to do with this!’ Alas, nothing will come of this story aside from a life lived behind a wall of projection and fear.
Now, take out several pieces of paper and write down all of the ways in which you have been unkind to men. Victimized them. Taken advantage of them. Knowingly hurt them. Abused your power with them. Said things to make them hurt.
The more thorough, and honest, you can be in this process, the better off you will be for it (and the easier the following steps will become). If a part of you wants to skip this step and stop reading here, then I promise you that you will always be at the mercy of your mind’s stories.
Defences do what they would defend against.
When our pain is left unchecked for too long, we often start to become the monsters that we are doing battle with in our own minds.
So it is an imperative step that you take ownership of all of the things that you have done to men, whether you rationalized it as a justifiable response or not.
4. Write down a list of all of the (difficult) ways that you see yourself as being similar to men
Having taken ownership of the ways in which you have hurt men, it is now time to bring it home and take a deeper level of ownership.
On a separate piece of paper, write down the sentence, “Something that I see in men that I see in myself is…” and then complete that sentence over and over again until you have exhausted your truths.
There is no healing with the enemy until we integrate with the enemy. This is why the most classic stories of all time (Star Wars, The Matrix, etc.) all end with the protagonist seeing himself in the enemy that he has been battling. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Some examples of what you write down could be:
“Something that I see in men that I see in myself is…
– A propensity to abuse my power when I know that I can get away with it
– I have knowingly said vicious things in order to hurt men
– Competitiveness with women
– I judge women and uphold sexism, in my own ways, frequently
– I have punished men by weaponizing my words, emotions, and thoughts towards them, which I’m sure has been felt by them on many occasions
– I sexualize women and make negative comments about other women’s bodies/personalities/etc.
– I can be controlling, deceitful, and dismissive”
You finish this sentence stem, over and over, until you feel complete. And, a friendly reminder, this process shouldn’t necessarily feel easy. Sure, you may feel some relief when you take ownership of certain themes, but in general, taking ownership of such difficult psychological content will likely be quite painful and draining at times.
5. Sit with the idea of men’s innocence
Continuing on with the difficult work of dissolving your ego’s deeply held beliefs… it is now time to meditate on the idea of men’s innocence.
You can do this work in layers. It is likely that you have multiple themes when it comes to men that you could hold in your mind. You could hold your abandoning father in your mind for this exercise. Or your ex-partner. Or your rapist. Or just a faceless wall of men. Generally, the strongest emotional charge will come from holding a particular person, or small group of people, in your mind, since it is more tangible and relatable than the concept of men.
Now I want you to set aside a minimum of three minutes, to just meditate on the innocence of this man/these men. See him/them as innocent. Picture him/them when he/they were young. Imagine what it must have been like to be raised in a world that told you to not feel. Imagine the ways that he/they had pain and suffering thrust upon him/them.
Simply hold him/them as innocent in your mind. That is the meditation. Just let it be exactly that. There’s no need to rush to false forgiveness, especially if that doesn’t feel true for you in this moment. Just hold them in your mind’s eye, and see them as innocent… even if only 1% innocent.
6. Collect evidence to the contrary
Because old habits die hard, after going through this process, your mind will likely go back to its ways of using the cognitive biases (that all humans have) of selective attention and selective memory. In other words, your mind’s filters will continue to collect evidence that men are truly terrible and worthy of disdain en masse, and filter out evidence to the contrary. Here’s where the long-term work begins.
Consistently make a conscious effort to gather evidence to the contrary of what your mind has collected for such a long time. Gather evidence of men being kind, caring, honest, noble, loyal, just, and loving. More specifically, whatever themes your mind has most held on to in the past, gather evidence to the contrary of that theme. For example, if you have long believed that “all men cheat”, then consciously gather evidence (in real life) of men who you see being in multi-decade, healthy, loving intimate relationships where they not only don’t stray, but they love their partners fully. This evidence can be gathered from real life role models, or from people that you see in the media.
Over time, the value from this practice will throw off dividends. It will become easier to see evidence to the contrary of your old beliefs when your mind is more in the habit of seeking it out. Your mind will be less rigid, and your life (internally and externally) will be more filled love, compassion, understanding, and trust.
Finishing With A Dash Of Tough Love
As far as the ego is concerned, it’s far easier to stay angry than it is to forgive. It’s easier to give up, check out, and stay upset with the world than it is to feel into your residual pain.
It takes courage and effort to lean into these wounds and come out with a lighter heart. But what else are you going to do with your remaining years? Let your pain win? Wrap yourself up in your metaphorical armour and close off from the world? Is that any way to live a life? Sounds like a colossal waste of energy to me.
Again, I’m not invalidating your pain. I fully believe that men have wronged you and hurt you in the past. But don’t let your ego make your pain special. Everyone has wounding from past painful events. This is just a fact of life. Horrible things happen. Unfathomable pain exists. And yet, every day, people make the decision to let go of the stories that they carry about their pain and they find it in their hearts to move forward, by feeling into and releasing some of their emotional residue. I want today to be that day for you. You aren’t justifying their behaviour. You aren’t saying it’s okay. You’re deciding to set down your pain. You’re deciding to say yes to being with all parts of yourself. You’re letting the weight off of your shoulders and forgiving them for yourself, and for everyone you come into contact with from here on out.
And if you’ve made it this far into the article, then I honour you for that. Thank you for at least being this curious about leaning into this process that you would let these words wash over you. I don’t take your effort for granted. And whatever you do with this information from here on out, I honour that too.
I wish you the best of luck in your journey.
Dedicated to your success and the expansion of your beautiful heart,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like checking out:
– How To Stop Hating Women (the companion piece to this article)