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I have good news for you.
Self-hatred is a very common issue that people have.
So if you're thinking or feeling...
"I hate myself...why do I hate myself?"
You're not alone.
It's linked to mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
And because self-hatred is a well-known phenomenon, there are people who will understand what you're going through.
Even more important, there are ways you can attack your own self-hatred to start feeling better today in your daily life.
We'll cover four of the best ones below.
Why Do I Hate Myself So Much? What Causes Self Hatred?
When you hate yourself, there's a rush to judgment that takes place.
And that rush to judgment is targeted at--you guessed it--yourself.
But what is self hatred exactly? What are the mental health issues behind it?
Let me guess what you've felt before:
Feelings of shame?
Feelings of unworthiness?
If you were the worst person in the world, would you have these feelings that are experienced by hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis?
Feelings good and bad are shared experiences.
And the feeling state of self-hatred is a mental health condition.
That's it. No judgment needed.
Plus, a lot of self-hatred comes from the extreme stress of living adult lives.
I've hated myself many times as an adult, but I don't remember doing it as a kid.
If I did, it was a fleeting feeling. It wasn't an all-consuming feeling state that can become more and more common as you get older.
Look at it this way.
It's easier to fall into the negative thinking trap and say, "I'm a bad person, and everything is all my fault" than admit that the world is impossibly complex and there is no way that any one person could figure it all out.
Think about all the things a typical adult has to worry about in one measly day of their life:
1. Do I have enough money?
2. How are my relationships?
3. Who all is relying on me right now?
4. I have so much work I need to do. How will I get it done?
5. What do others think of me?
6. What do I think of myself?
And these are just the most common examples.
You could probably add 5-10 more specific examples to the list!
I know I could.
It's enough to make any person think they have a mental illness.
And at some point or other in our hectic lives, we probably do have mental illnesses.
Because mental health and mental illness fall on a spectrum.
It's not a final you-have-it-and-now-you-don't kind of thing. There are shades and degrees and fluctuation in your mental health.
With that in mind, here are the top ways you dig through the weeds of your self-hate and emerge victorious.
How to Stop Hating Yourself and End Self Loathing: 10 Key Ways to Stop Hating Yourself
1. Carve out Analysis Time to get to the root of the issue of your negative self-concept
You may not be a mental health professional, but that doesn't mean you're not a professional of your own life.
If you're saying, 'I hate myself," then you must carve out thinking time for yourself.
Make it a dedicated amount of time on your calendar. If not, it's just going to blend in with all the other blobs of feelings and tasks you have going on.
Setting aside time to quietly think about why you hate yourself seems like it's just adding insult to injury, but it's actually astonishingly powerful.
Before you can act, you must know.
Make a list of all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that could be contributing to how you feel about yourself.
2. How to Deal With "Self-Hatred Disorder?" Make your analysis time more productive
Here's a little trick stolen from the Wide World of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Carry a notepad or a piece of paper around with you for a few days.
Each time you have feelings of self-loathing, write on your paper what is happening in those particular moments.
Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What time of day is it?
All of these details can help you pinpoint what's going on and if there's anything in particular that's causing your self-hatred.
It's all data. It's all grist for the mill.
Get the data in front of you so you can get a better picture of what's going on.
This is one seriously effective way to beat what I like to call "self-hatred disorder."
While it's not an official term, it helps to create some distance from the affliction that is self-hatred, just like writing down your negative thoughts helps get them out of your head.
3. Get some entire-life perspective (If you hate your life...)
This next one is interesting because it helps you zoom out and get a grip on where you are in your life.
When people say that they hate themselves, they normally are talking about a particular moment in time.
All feelings are fleeting. All life experiences are fleeting as well.
Don't obsess over one feeling.
Instead, think about your life as a vast timeline, with point A starting years and years ago when you were a child--and point B happening right now.
What happened in between those points to make you hate yourself?
Was it a particular event?
Was there one person in your life who said something so awful that it's stayed with you ever since?
Your timeline is massive. There's so much you can do between point A and point B.
Because point B is always moving. It's not over yet.
What would it take for you to change your life story?
What event could you help bring forward to change the trajectory--and the timeline--of your life?
4. Mine your "I Hate Myself So Much" behaviors to find the hidden culprits
Much like you can find the root cause of your self-hatred by carving out thinking time, you can also find your root, most destructive behaviors.
What makes a behavior so incredibly destructive that it contributes to extreme self-hatred?
It's anything that you do that, immediately after, you regret or feel intense shame.
For me, it's picking at my skin and obsessing over blemishes on my body. Without a doubt, I feel intense regret after I do this.
But I've been able to identify this as a source of great shame and hatred.
As a result, I've orchestrated new routines to avoid this bad behavior and replace it with a good one.
This is another technique from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Many mental health apps can walk you through this approach.
Sanvello is a great one that I've used in the past.
It all starts with becoming mindful of what you're doing.
That's the hard part.
Then it's up to you to figure out what you want to do instead of the bad behavior to get back on the path of self-compassion.
5. Get Your Voice Back By Targeting the Negative Voice in Your Head
If you've made it this far, you know that it's possible to take in new ideas.
And you are starting to understand that if you were the one who created the critical voice spewing thoughts of self-hatred, then you can be the one to change that voice.
Having a critical voice has a negative connotation, but it doesn't need to be that way.
The art of life is all in the framing.
"Critical" is a word that means something bad when you think about how much you dislike yourself, but it means something else entirely when attached to someone who studies art or movies or current affairs.
Even a mental health professional could be considered a critic.
They exist to be objective and help you turn a critical eye onto living your life in a healthy, adaptive way.
You didn't have control over your childhood experiences.
You didn't have a say in what happened to you when you were young and defenseless.
It's possible that one bad experience has shaped your worldview for way too long.
But letting your past ruin you is a symptom.
Thinking and talking negatively about yourself is a classic symptom of a mental health condition.
Try not to judge the common symptoms.
Instead, but a critic for good, a critic who sees what's possible in your life.
This new frame is within your reach and ready for you to move through it.
6. Let Go of Your Childhood Experiences
But what if you've gone through all or most of the previous steps and still hate yourself?
Have you ever considered that maybe your behavior is based on events that were outside of your control?
You had no say over how you were raised. You had no choice of who raised you.
What stories are you telling yourself from your past?
You are not responsible for what did or didn't happen to you when you were a child.
I find attachment theory (Link to a University of Illinois professor's summary of attachment-theory research) can be incredibly helpful in learning about how your primary caregivers' actions shaped your attachment style.
And how you relate to others can have a huge impact on how you feel about yourself.
7. Avoid Social Situations that Harm You and Make You Hate Yourself
By now, you've been around the sun a number of times in your life.
So, you have a good amount of data on the types of people you don't like being around.
The truth is, there are social situations that make us hate ourselves.
For me, I hate being fake.
I hate being made to play a part.
If I'm environment that only likes that kind of behavior, I start to hate myself and need to get out.
Are there social situations like that in your life?
I'm not talking about ones that are exactly like that--the fake-loving kind--but situations that make you hate yourself.
Make a list of the social environments that crush your soul, and then do what you can to remove yourself from them.
8. Turn a Messy, Self-Loathing Life Into One You're Proud Of
So much of life is about "adulting." About figuring it out as you go along.
This is a process that works for some people and is absolutely miserable for others.
I fall somewhere in the middle.
As I got into my twenties, I realized there were aspects of my life that were simply not working for me anymore.
My diet was not great.
I didn't have a productivity system.
I wasn't careful with the information I was letting into my brain.
For my diet, I switched to doing what felt right for me. Novel idea, I know.
Instead of eating a certain amount of food because that is how I was raised, I only ate when hungry, and this turned me onto the benefits of intermittent fasting as I started to feel better and digest what I ate more easily. I also ate mainly whole foods instead of processed foods.
For my productivity system, I read as much as I could about workflow management and knowledge work until I came up with a system that worked for me.
As for the information I allowed into my brain, I started to act with intention regarding where I got my information in the first place, eventually curating news sources and email newsletters from trusted, vetted sources.
I also got off Facebook and Instagram because I hated the obsession with "perfect" images and lives. I doubled down on Twitter instead because I'm a word person and wasn't personally affected by what I read there.
This is how I turned a messy life into one lived with intention.
This led to a congruence of thought and action that helped me like the life I was living.
9. Write the Essay You've Always Wanted To
Some people don't want to completely overhaul their life, and I think it's because they don't know what they want from their life in the first place.
Narrative therapy is based on the idea that you are the author of your own life.
If you don't like your current life, write yourself a new story.
It's not as simple as that, but understanding that you can step outside your story and take action to write a new one is a powerful concept.
Take 30 minutes to imagine your ideal life and write about it.
Here are some questions you might find useful to write your personal essay of your ideal life:
- What have you always loved doing? What were your favorite activities as a child?
- If you knew, with absolute certainty, that you will die in one year, how would decide to live your life? What would you do differently? What would stay the same?
- What do your best friends say are your best qualities? What do they see in you that you might be missing?
- What does your gut tell you to do but your mind refuses to accept? Why haven't you followed your gut?
10. Finally, Piece Together Your Life Details Like a Puzzle
At the end of the day, you can't stop hating yourself until you get out of the rut in you're in.
It's time to give yourself some self-directed, compassion-focused therapy.
It's time to write some personal essays and see what comes of them.
It's time to change.
We are all our own worst enemy.
But that doesn't mean we always have to be.
So much of why people hate themselves comes from their social limitations, emotional limitations, and negative beliefs.
It's time to collect information about how you can live life differently.
Any of the previous actions in this list can help you do it.
What you need to do is take the ideas that work for you--and then put them together as you would a puzzle.
You know that satisfying feeling you get when a puzzle piece is pressed into place and it fits perfectly?
That's how it feels when you're on the right track with improving how you feel about yourself.
You'll just know it when it happens.
How to Overcome Self Hatred and Not Hate Yourself Anymore: You Can End Your Emotional Abuse and Improve Your Mental Health
Self-hatred is a serious thing, yes, but I'm also serious when I write that you can end this.
You are not your self-hatred, and you never will be.
No person is just one thing. You are not "anxious person" or "depressed person."
You are a complex human being with flaws and gifts just like everyone else.
Feelings of inadequacy are normal, and it's because they are normal that there are well-documented ways for overcoming them.
So try one or two techniques from the above list.
The worst that will happen is that you get closer to figuring out what doesn't work--and much, much closer to living the kind of life you rightfully deserve.