Do you often have the thought, “I hate myself”? If you are filled with feelings of self-hatred, you know how frustrating they can be. Not only does self-hatred limit what you can achieve in life, but it also worsens mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
In order to get over feelings of self-hatred, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms, understand the underlying causes and triggers, realize the powerful effects it has on your life, and finally, make a plan to get over those feelings of self-hatred and develop healthy coping skills to feel better.
Signs of Self-Hatred
Below are some of the tell-tale signs that you might be living with self-hatred, beyond having occasional negative self-talk.
- All-or-nothing thinking: You see yourself and your life as either good or bad, without any shades of gray in between. If you make a mistake, you feel as though everything is ruined or that you’re a failure.
- Focus on the negative: Even if you have a good day, you tend to focus on the bad things that happened or what went wrong instead.
- Emotional reasoning: You take your feelings as facts. If you notice that you are feeling bad or like a failure, then you assume that your feelings must reflect the truth of the situation and that you are, in fact, bad.
- Low self-esteem: You generally have low self-esteem and don’t feel as though you measure up when comparing yourself to others in daily life.
- Seeking approval: You are constantly seeking outside approval from others to validate your self-worth. Your opinion of yourself changes depending on how others evaluate you or what they think of you.
- Can’t accept compliments: If someone says something good about you, you discount what was said or think that they are just being nice. You have trouble accepting compliments and tend to brush them off instead of graciously accepting them.
- Trying to fit in: You find that you always feel like an outsider and are always trying to fit in with others. You feel as though people dislike you and can’t understand why they would want to spend time with you or actually like you.
- Taking criticism personally: You have a hard time when someone offers criticism, and tend to take it as a personal attack or think about it long after the fact.
- Often feeling jealous: You find yourself jealous of others and may cut them down in order to make yourself feel better about your situation in life.
- Fearful of positive connections: You may push away friends or potential partners out of fear when someone gets too close, and believe that it will end badly or you will end up alone.
- Throwing pity parties for yourself: You have a tendency to throw pity parties for yourself and feel as though you have been dealt a bad lot in life, or that everything is stacked against you.
- Afraid to dream big: You are afraid to have dreams and aspirations and feel as though you need to continue to live your life in a protected way. You may be afraid of failure, afraid of success, or look down on yourself regardless of what you achieve.
- Hard on yourself: If you make a mistake, you have a very hard time forgiving yourself. You may also have regrets about things you have done in the past or failed to do. You may have trouble letting go and moving past mistakes.
- Cynical viewpoint: You see the world in a very cynical way and hate the world that you live in. You feel as though people with a positive outlook are naive about the way that the world really works. You don’t see things getting any better and have a very bleak outlook on life.
The inner critic is like a frenemy who is intent on undermining your success. This voice in your head is filled with self-hate, and can also evolve into paranoia and suspiciousness if you listen long enough. The inner critic doesn’t want you to experience success, so it will even cut you down when you do accomplish something good.
If you are looking to get over self-hatred, there are a number of things you can do to break the cycle. Above all else, remember that you are not to blame for how you feel, but you are responsible from this day forward for the actions that you take toward making positive changes.
1.) Try Journaling
Keep a journal to reflect on your day and how you felt about what happened. Reflect on the events of the day, examine situations that may have triggered certain emotions, and be mindful of the root causes of any feelings of self-hatred.
As you journal each day, look for patterns and aim to become more aware of how your emotions shift. Research shows that expressive writing such as journaling can help to reduce psychological distress.
2.) Talk Back to Your Inner Critic
As you start to become more aware of your emotions and their triggers, try to identify the thoughts that you have when faced with negative events. Ask yourself questions about whether your thoughts are realistic, or whether you are engaging in thought distortions.
Try standing up to your inner bully by countering that inner voice with arguments to the contrary. If you find it hard to build up a strong voice on your own, imagine yourself taking on the role of a stronger person you know—such as a friend, famous person, or superhero—and talking back to the critical voice in your head.
3.) Practice Self-Compassion
Instead of hating yourself, practice showing yourself compassion. This means looking at situations in a different light, seeing the good things that you have accomplished, and ending black-or-white thinking. What would you say to a friend or loved one who was having similar thoughts about themselves?
Was that one bad thing that happened really the end of the world? Could you reframe the situation to see it as a setback instead of a catastrophe? When you can be kinder to yourself, you’ll open yourself up to more positive feelings and a positive inner voice. Research shows that compassion-focused therapy can improve self-esteem, which could be helpful to reduce self-hatred.
4.) Spend Time With Positive People
Instead of hanging out with people who make you feel bad, start hanging out with people who make you feel good. If you don’t have any positive people your everyday life, consider joining a support group. If you aren’t sure where to find one, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a good place to start, regardless of what type of mental health issues you might be facing.
5.) Practice Meditation
If you find it hard to slow down and detach yourself from your negative thinking, try starting a regular meditation practice. Engaging in meditation is a way to shut off the negative voice in your head. It’s also like a muscle; the more that you practice, the easier that it will be to quiet your mind and let go of negative thoughts.
6.) See a Therapist
If you are struggling with your mental health, you might benefit from seeing a therapist. While it’s possible to shift your mindset on your own, a therapist can help you deal with past trauma more quickly and guide you to more helpful thinking patterns.
7.) Take Care of Yourself
Instead of engaging in self-destructive behaviors, engage in self-care. This approach means taking care of your physical and mental health by doing all the things that will keep you feeling good. Eat healthy food, get regular exercise, get enough sleep, reduce social media and screen time, spend time in nature, and talk kindly to yourself, to name a few examples.
8.) Move Toward Living the Life You Want
The antidote to feeling bad all the time might be to start taking small steps toward what you want in life. That might mean finding a new career path, traveling, getting out of debt, ending a relationship, starting a family, or moving far away. Determine your values and then start acting in accordance with them. Once you start to align with your values, it will be easier to feel confident in yourself.