“Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.” This ancient Chinese proverb was often quoted by our late president George H. W. Bush. I find it one of the wisest most succinct comments I’ve ever heard. Medical science is discovering more and more that destructive emotion turned inward causes disease. It makes so much sense. When you plant a garden you water it, watch for the sun, fertilize the plants, prune them and wait for the harvest. If you planted in good soil and follow those rules you will have your harvest. If you chose poor soil, fail to fertilize, water your plants and pull the weeds you will not. Most of your plants will wither and die. The ones that survive will not be healthy.
It is the same with our bodies. We all know that a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep on a regular basis, preventive medicine and eight glasses of water a day all promote good health. But do we know what happens to our body if we hold a grudge, plot revenge, gossip maliciously, become angry and feel victimized on a regular basis? Do we know how those arteries are withering, hardening, how our cholesterol is galloping to an insanely high number and how our blood pressure soars every time we fill our body with negative energy?
Those of us who were abused as children, especially child sexual abuse are ripe targets for so many health problems. After our abuse began, we experienced fear, anger, rage, confusion and many more negative emotions, especially hatred, that could only be destructive. Yet it is difficult to contain them. Being angry comes naturally when we’ve been abused. It’s almost an automatic reaction. Even if we smother it, lock it in an attic our mind, try to pretend it’s not there, say to ourselves, I’ve moved on our bodies know the truth. Without a program of recovery that actually works we grow up with all of these emotions still raging inside of us. And they are busy. They travel through our bodies wreaking destruction that we don’t even know is happening. As we grow older hatred becomes a natural response for us. Someone who snubs us, who we catch gossiping about us, who rejects us, who makes fun of us, refuses to interact with us and so on can ignite these negative emotions, feelings that all started at the moment of our abuse.
I’ve spoken often regarding the ACE Study. Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization, perpetration, and lifelong health problems. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. The following is from the website regarding this study.
Much of the foundational research in this area has been referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors. Beginning in 1994, the “adverse childhood experiences” (ACE) Study, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente assessed the relationship between adult health risk behaviors and childhood abuse and household dysfunction.
- The study began with a sample of 9,508 individuals representing a 70.5% response rate.
- Respondents were given a score of one for each ACE category that they experienced.
Findings showed that people who experienced four or more adverse childhood events had:
- increased risk for smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse
- increased risk for depression and suicide attempts
- poor self-rated health
- 50 or more sexual partners
- greater likelihood of sexually transmitted disease
- challenges with physical inactivity, and severe obesity
A follow-up sample combined with baseline data for a total sample of 17,337. Additional findings show that ACE Score is associated with:
- likelihood of attempted suicide across the lifespan
- increased risk for broken bones
- heart disease
- lung disease
- liver disease
- multiple types of cancer
Once you go through the right program of recovery you begin letting go of anger. You come to realize that you can’t go back and change anything. You understand the law of karma, “that which you do to others will be done to you.” Don’t let that happen. Let hatred go. Don’t let it rent space free in your head. You are bigger than that. If you give in to negative emotions, especially hatred, whenever you feel you have been slighted it will begin injuring your body. It will become a habit, one you justify. It is better to be noble, to be understanding, to be forgiving than to let hatred corrode the container you carry it in. It is not easy; we are all only human. But you will live longer, be happier and find that forgiving and letting go of hatred brings peace and understanding.