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Why Do I Hate Myself?

By: Ashlee Stumpf, LPC

  • Do you refute or downplay compliments? 
  • Are you continually hard on yourself and wonder why others would want to spend time with you?
  • Do you take criticism as a personal attack? 
  • Will you often accept your feelings as facts? (i.e., “if I feel this strongly, therefore it must be true”)
  • Do you tend to discount achievements as “luck” or “no big deal” while highlighting your mistakes?
  • Do you regularly engage in negative self-talk?
  • Do you have a habit of pushing away potential friends and partners out of fear they will hurt you?

If you answered yes to any of these then you may have engaged in an act of self-hatred. A pattern of these behaviors can lead to a life of increased mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, and feeling incapable of achieving your life goals. Self-hating thoughts cause people to put limits on themselves and believe things cannot change. 

Causes of Self-Hatred

Self-hatred doesn’t happen suddenly or occur without influence. It takes time for negative beliefs to cultivate and take root.  Here are some common ways people develop self-hating attitudes.

Negative Inner Critic

Do you have a voice in your head that points out your flaws or compares you unfavorably to others? Does it also ruin your successes? We all have an inner critic, but some are louder than others. The more a person listens to an inner critic unquestionably, the louder it becomes. The truth is inner critics often use our negative emotions to enforce our negative beliefs, and a cycle begins. A critic will use a singular bad event to justify long-term self-doubt, even in the face of conflicting evidence. Inner critics often arise from negative life experiences. 

Childhood Experiences 

The events of childhood can have a major impact on how we view ourselves. The relationship with one’s family of origin is a foremost influence. Studies show that adverse childhood experiences, or ACE, such as experiencing or witnessing abuse or neglect can hinder a child’s ability to feel safe, bond with others, and trust their own capabilities. All of which can encourage self-hating beliefs to form. 

Bad relationships

Think of the different types of relationships you have, friends, significant others, family, co-workers, teachers, bosses, etc. Relationships vary, but many of them have the potential of emboldening an inner self-critic. This could a friend who tends to make jokes at your expense, a partner who makes you question your decision-making abilities, or a boss who makes you feel you couldn’t find a better job. Bad relationships come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually come down to one person feeling powerless and/or they don’t matter as much as the other person. 

Traumatic experiences

Traumatic experiences often led to people questioning the safety of the world and their ability to act. This could be from a physical attack, the loss of someone important, or a pattern of disturbing events. No matter the origin, they can lead to feelings of shame, fear, and mistrust if not addressed.  

Challenging Self-Hatred

The good news about self-hatred, with some work, you can change it. It can take time and feel odd at the beginning. However, there are several methods to challenging self-hating beliefs. 

Journaling

Keeping a journal allows you to catalog your thoughts and reflect on situations. For some, writing down their thoughts gives them out of the person’s head and quiets the related emotions. Others use journaling to look for patterns in their self-hating thoughts and root causes, and possible triggers.

Challenge Your Inner Critic

Inner critics typically use faulty logic to perpetuate negative self-beliefs, which is why it is important to question them. Are there facts that go against what it is telling you? May another person see the situation differently? Are you looking at all the facts or just those that support the negative beliefs? Alternatively, if you don’t feel ready to stand up to the critic, think about someone who is (a friend, celebrity, or fictional character). Imagine how they would respond to the negative voice. 

Practice Self-Compassion

Are you a good friend to yourself? If not, start trying to be. Be that supportive, nonjudgmental friend we all want. Take note of your positive qualities. Allow yourself the grace you would give a friend. Acknowledge what you are doing right, instead of just what’s wrong. Use positive affirmations to combat negative thoughts. The better a person feels about herself the more their self-esteem grows and self-hatred decreases. 

Surround Yourself with Positive People

As stated before, the people in our lives have a big effect on how we view ourselves. In some instances, we have little control over those relations, but in many instances we do. While it may take a lot of effort, we have overall control over who we spend our time with and how much time we spend with them. There is a great Spanish phrase, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.” If you surround yourself with negative people, it is likely you will be a negative person and vice versa. 

See a Therapist

If these negative self-thoughts dominate your mind, it may be a good idea to seek out a mental health professional. Sometimes self-hatred fuels mental health issues, but sometimes it’s the other way around. Depression, anxiety, PTSD can all result in a negative self-view. A therapist can help you figure out the source of self-hatred and help you develop coping skills. If you are interested, feel free to reach out to Symmetry Counseling at intake@symmetrycounseling.com for a free 20-minute consultation. 

Resources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/i-hate-myself-ways-to-combat-self-hatred-5094676

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfact.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fviolenceprevention%2Facestudy%2Ffastfact.html

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