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white house 2The day after Bill Clinton was first elected president, I went to school dressed all in black. I felt America was doomed. I proceeded to hate Clinton for the next 8 years.

When George W. Bush was first elected president, I was slightly relieved. Relieved not to have Gore and thus a continuation of Clinton in office. Within a year or so, I proceeded to hate Bush. Eventually hated him even more than I hated Clinton.

Shortly before Obama was first elected, I told a friend “I don’t support either McCain or Obama. But if I had to pick one of the two, I’d prefer Obama. But knowing me, I’m sure I’ll end up hating Obama soon.”

The next few days I pondered that. Why did I have to hate the president? It seemed logical that if I hated the policies of a president, that I should hate the president. But what effect was this hate having? What did it get me?

I analyzed it:

1) Effect of my hate on the president:  Zilch. Nada. Hating Bush and Clinton had absolutely zero effect on their policies. Had zero effect on the men themselves.  Had zero effect on the country.

2) Effect of my hate for the president on my friends and family:  Slightly negative.   It certainly couldn’t help them.  Ever been around someone who is full of hate? You can feel the negative effects within yourself.

3) Effect of my hate for the president on myself: Significantly negative! I could feel how growing and nurturing this hate disempowered me.   It cut me of from what was important in my life, from joy, and from love. It made me more reactive and weaker.   I was less effective as a person because of growing and nurturing this hate.

So, if hating the president does nothing for the country, has a slight negative effect on those around me and has a significant negative effect on me, then why in the world should I continue to hate the president?

I therefore made a choice.

A promise.

A promise to myself that I would not hate Obama. No matter what he did in office. Not for his sake. But for my sake. For my own good.

It’s now been 6 years since I made that promise to myself. I’m glad to report that I’ve kept it. It wasn’t easy at times, but I kept it.

And my life is so much better for it. There is more love, more compassion, more joy in my life, in part, because I no longer carry and grow this hatred.  My life feels lighter.  I’m more empowered.  My influence on national politics is still zero – same as before – but I have more of a positive effect on myself and on people around me than I did before.  I can’t imagine going back to harboring this hatred inside of me for the leader of the country.

Here are some tips I’ve found useful on not hating the president (whoever it is) – or any politician for that matter:

1) Forgive them. Realize that they are trying to do their best to help. They may screw up, they may wrongly think a policy will help when it doesn’t. That’s OK.  Forgive them regardless. Forgive them not for their sake, but for your own sake. Make the choice to realize they are human, just like you, and that they are in office to try to do their best that they can with what they have.

2) Booster your own confidence about being able to deal with whatever is thrown at you. Your fears about government policies is in part what drives you to hate.  When you’re afraid, you’re driven more toward hate.  Tell yourself “I can handle it” when you’re concerned about a new law or new policy.  Become confident about your own ability to handle this new law.  This does not mean becoming passive – you can still oppose a new law and speak out against it.  But you can booster your confidence about what happens if that law is passed so that you aren’t driven to the negative effects of hatred.

3) Avoid those who make money off by growing your hate. TV shows like Fox, MSNBC (in the US) and others make money by increasing your fears and hatred.  Same thing with partisan websites and partisan Facebook pages. How? They work hard at making you fearful and feeling hateful which makes it much more likely you’ll keep on tuning to them regularly.  This increase ad revenue.  This increase donations to politicians.  This increase money to pollsters, to campaign managers, etc. Avoid them.  If you want to get the news, do it from a more balanced site, and only on occasion.

Make the choice, for your own sake and for the sake of your friends, to avoid hating the president, whoever it is.

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