Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough? Do you feel bad for yourself when comparing yourself to others? Sometimes, self-hatred can be subtle so you may not even realize that you have such a problem. Some people constantly put themselves down because of their critical inner voice that suggests that they do everything wrong or are stupid and talentless.
Obviously, self-hate is a bad thing. If you’re too critical about yourself and things that you do, you may struggle with low self-esteem, have relationship problems, and experience difficulties with decision-making and setting goals.
While self-hatred itself can make your life difficult, it becomes particularly dangerous when a person also has other mental health issues, like depression or anxiety.
Sometimes, it may not be easy to love yourself, and if you realize that your own mind becomes your judge, the best solution is to consider therapy. You can work on your style of thinking and gradually replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Let’s consider self-hatred in more detail and think of how one can overcome it.
What Self-Hatred Is
According to the self-loathing definition, this is a very strong feeling of dislike for yourself. Usually, people experience this feeling because of constant self-evaluation and comparison to others.
Here are the most common symptoms of self-loathing.
Focusing on the negative
A person cannot stop thinking about the negative things in their life, no matter how many good things they may experience at the moment. They have difficulties with recognizing their own strengths and personal accomplishments and focus on failures instead.
Perceiving feelings as facts
One may also perceive negative thoughts and feelings as objective truth and think that their negative feelings toward themselves reflect their actual traits and abilities.
Self-hatred is closely connected to low self-esteem. It can stop a person from applying for a good job or visiting social events because they might feel like they’re not worthy of happiness and positive experiences.
Self-hatred also creates difficulties with accepting one’s failures. Besides, it can make a person exaggerate the negative consequences of their failures.
What Causes Self-Loathing
One of the most common reasons why people experience self-hatred is trauma. For instance, self-loathing is very common among people who faced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse as children.
Traumatic experiences can make a child perceive the world and people around them as dangerous. In an attempt to make sense of their fears, such a person may start to think that they are just not worthy of love and happiness. Quite often, people simply repeat negative statements that they’ve heard from their parents.
It’s important to keep in mind that parents’ anger can be very traumatizing for children. Even when parents express mild anger and frustration toward their children, the latter may perceive the situation as life-threatening.
When children are afraid, they may stop identifying with themselves as vulnerable children and start to identify with their abusive parents. As a result, they may reflect their parents’ anger and criticism.
Desire to please others
People are social creatures. We may want other people to like us, and when we interact with others, we might feel happy about ourselves when we see that others are happy.
There’s nothing wrong with doing something good for others, but evaluating yourself based on how you satisfy others’ needs and expectations is not a healthy approach because it can result in dependent relationships and lead to self-hatred.
It’s important not to prioritize other people’s expectations over your own needs and values. Keep in mind that you’re not responsible for fulfilling someone else’s desires, and their opinions about you shouldn’t impact your self-esteem. You can always find people who will appreciate you for who you are.
It’s impossible not to notice other people’s achievements and success, but there’s no need to put a value on such observations. Self-hatred is often linked to so-called upward comparison, which is a tendency to only give value to people who are better than you at something.
As a result, you may put less value on your own achievements and experience self-hatred. Social comparison is a particularly common problem among social media users. When you see well-curated content about the lives of successful influencers, keep in mind that a lot remains hidden behind the curtains. Everyone has their own struggles and failures, and being successful doesn’t necessarily mean being happy.
When we call somebody a perfectionist, we usually mean that this person doesn’t allow themselves to make mistakes. Such people expect perfection from themselves or even from others, in any situation.
The perfectionist all-or-nothing mindset isn’t exactly healthy. Quite often, people develop such a mindset in an attempt to protect themselves from painful feelings. By pursuing perfection, a person may try to escape feelings of embarrassment, shame, loneliness, and judgment.
How to Stop Hating Yourself
1. Identify your triggers
To overcome self-loathing, you should understand what triggers it. Think of where this feeling comes from so that you can pay attention to the way you react to different situations and circumstances.
A very helpful practice is journaling. You can jot down the things you’ve experienced throughout the day, including your activities, people you talked to, and your thoughts. Regular journaling allows you to spot thought patterns that lead to self-hatred so you can come up with some ideas on how to avoid your common triggers.
2. Challenge and reframe your negative thoughts
As we’ve already mentioned above, when people have self-hate thoughts, they may perceive them as objective truth, and that’s exactly what you should try to avoid. Whenever you have negative thoughts about yourself, take a little break and challenge them. Ask yourself, how you came to negative conclusions about yourself, and think of why these thoughts might be wrong.
Even if positive arguments don’t outweigh the negative ones, the very fact of challenging your negative thoughts will help you realize that your self-hate is not an undeniable truth but simply just another emotion.
The next step is reframing negative thoughts, which means considering them from a new angle. For instance, you may focus on the positive aspects of the situation or the way you can benefit from it despite its negative aspects.
Besides, you can formulate your thoughts and things you say in a different way by avoiding words like “always” or “never” and acknowledging the subjectivity of your feelings. For example, instead of saying “I’m a failure,” you can say “I feel like I could do better.”
This way, you can replace self-loathing with specific ideas for what you want to change and how you’d like to improve. Instead of focusing on your feelings of disappointment, you can set goals and focus on accomplishing them.
3. Learn self-compassion
Although mastering self-compassion can be difficult, this is also the most effective way to overcome self-hatred. Self-compassion means accepting your failures and mistakes. To err is human, and you deserve forgiveness from yourself if you cannot accomplish something or meet your expectations.
Think of how you would react if your best friend told you about their mistake or failure. The chances are that you would support them instead of putting them down. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and forgive yourself.
While learning self-compassion may take some time, studies show that it’s a trainable skill so be patient and practice self-forgiveness whenever you have negative thoughts about yourself.
4. Practice positive self-talk
Usually, self-hatred is accompanied by negative self-talk. When you experience difficulties, negative self-talk can discourage you and negatively affect your self-esteem so you can balance it with positive self-talk when you’re feeling good.
If you’re used to negative self-talk, it can be difficult for you to say something positive about yourself. Therefore, a great solution is to make a list of your positive traits, habits, and accomplishments. Try to make this list as long as possible, adding any details that you like about yourself, even if these are insignificant things like taking care of your pets or making tasty sandwiches.
5. Try therapy
Overcoming self-loathing can be a long and difficult process, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. Do you keep wondering, “Why do I hate myself?” A licensed therapist can help you figure out the reasons for your self-hate feelings and provide the necessary support and guidance so that you can cope with it.
Of course, in-person therapy can be too time-consuming for people with intense work schedules, but you can also use online therapy platforms like Calmerry to talk to a therapist from the comfort of your home. Learn more about talk therapy to prepare for your first session.
Self-loathing can seriously damage one’s self-esteem and negatively affect one’s relationships with others. It may be rooted in traumatic experiences from the past, social comparison, unhealthy relationship dynamics, or other factors. Overcoming self-hatred might be difficult, but it’s not an impossible task.
To stop self-loathing, you should figure out what factors trigger your negative thoughts, challenge them, and practice self-compassion. If you experience self-hatred, don’t hesitate to seek therapy. Therapy can help you change your unhelpful thinking patterns and improve your self-esteem.