Give Yourself a Break: Overcoming Self Loathing and Self Hate

September 12, 2021

Do you have persistent feelings that you aren’t good enough that take the joy out of life? Overcoming self-loathing is possible.

Life is full of peaks and valleys, and sometimes it is difficult to navigate not just life situations, but the people that we encounter. Being a social being is hard enough, but when it comes to not loving yourself, life can be especially hard.

Sometimes your inner voice, the one who tells you who you are and what you are capable of, can be your very worst enemy. When you consistently engage in negative self-talk, it can lead to always thinking of the worst-case scenario. And it can feel like you aren’t ever good enough, leading to self-hatred.

The law of attraction states that you get what you attract. And if you are filled with self-loathing and self-hatred, it might make it challenging to be in relationships and to form bonds with other people.

And it can also lead to feelings of anxiety and depression at never being good enough. After all, if you don’t love yourself, you probably will not put yourself out there to meet people. And you probably also won’t be open to allowing others to love you. 

Everyone is worthy of love and human connection, and we all need it to survive. So maybe it is time to give yourself a break. You can’t be perfect, no one can. Try to be who you are, and be nice to you, and what you will see is a total transformation of your life and your level of happiness.

What Does Self-Loathing Feel Like?

Have you ever felt like nothing you ever do is right? Do you feel as if you can’t ever live up to everyone’s expectations, or perhaps your own? Self-loathing involves a person having persistent thoughts of not being good enough by any standard.

It can sometimes be subtle, like consistently putting yourself down. While other times, it can be more pervasive, like a persistent feeling that there is nothing good about you at all. Self-loathing comes from the inner voice that can sometimes be our harshest critic. And, for some, it is something that they simply can’t silence. 

For those who don’t challenge the negative thoughts that can arise, self-loathing can lead to a lot of needless suffering. We all have times where we struggle with what is real, and what we create in our minds as reality, due to our perceptions. Our perceptions are the way that we view ourselves, real or not, and they are also a driving force behind how we guide our actions and behaviors. 

Self-hatred usually comes from an unrealistic expectation of what you think you should be. People who have a high degree of self-loathing typically hold themselves to a more stringent standard of behavior and achievement than they do those around them.

They tend to see others with a softer lens and will give them a pass, but not give themselves the same leeway. Often self-loathing stems from experiences in childhood when trying to navigate parental and social interactions.

What are the Causes of Self-Loathing

Shot of a little girl looking unhappy as her parents argue in the background

Many factors likely play in developing self-loathing. Self-hatred is a term used by mental health professionals to categorize people who describe hating themselves. It involves feelings of self-hatred, shame, and guilt.

And it typically is associated with many different types of mental disorders, particularly those that involve a perceiving a defect that lies within oneself. It is also linked to depression and anxiety.
Or, it can stem from guilt over someone’s past behaviors or actions that they view as immoral or somehow wrong and can’t forgive themselves for. Self-hatred is also a component of some personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Anyone can succumb to feelings of self-doubt that can eventually lead to self-loathing if not challenged and corrected. Since we are all human, and fallible, we have all gone through situations where we have felt inadequate and sought to prove ourselves otherwise, only to fail. 

Self-hatred is usually something that begins early on in development. The formation of self-hatred typically revolves around the environment of our upbringing. There does seem to be some carryover from parents who experience self-loathing and the way that they direct their own feelings onto their children.

If a parent has experienced trauma or has a negative view of themselves, it is more likely that their attitudes will adversely affect their children. Although factors differ from one person to the next, in general, people develop self-hatred as the result of a dysfunctional childhood that can lead to anger, low-self esteem, and a misguided sense of self. 

There are typically two main reasons at the heart of hating yourself 

Poor Family Environment

When children are raised in families that are either too possessive or neglectful, they can internalize the feeling that there is something critically wrong with them. Because we can’t fathom why anyone who loves us would treat us in the manner that they do, our cognitive dissonance seeks to make sense of the treatment by finding a reason or blaming oneself. 

Children look to their parents with God-like admiration. And they need to rely on their parents for love and safety to survive. So instead of seeing parents as worthy of condemnation, children turn their feelings inward. Since they can’t see their parents in another light but admiration, they turn their negative feelings against themselves, which fosters self-hatred.

Poor Social Environment

Sometimes the external social environment we live in can add insult to injury. Things, like bullying or just not being able to get along with others, can only further indoctrinate feelings of self-hatred and make them more profound. Social media, and the way that it can lead to a constant comparison against some idealistic, and often unrealistic, sense of reality, can drive deeper feelings of never being good enough.

Or, it can enhance feelings of never living up to some altered standard of what you should be. Also, things like overly critical teachers or an education system that requires unrealistic standards of academic achievement can further lower someone’s sense of self-esteem and increase self-loathing. 

When you have an underlying feeling of never being enough, it tends to make you seek out a constant affirmation that your beliefs are correct. Although it would seem the opposite, the mind seeks something called “”confirmation bias,”” which is a way that the brain needs to control and make sense out of life.

Signs That you Might be Suffering From Self-Loathing

Man on knees with flowers making peace with his shadow

The signs of self-loathing can sometimes be more passive, and other times, extremely overt. If you exhibit any of these signs, it might be time to work on giving yourself a break.

  • Critically harsh self-talk
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Insecurity in social settings
  • Poor posture or slouching
  • Neglecting your health 
  • Self-destructing behaviors and self-sabotage, or not allowing yourself to experience joy and happiness 
  • Anger issues
  • The refusal of help, compliments, or advice
  • Self-isolation
  • Addictive tendencies
  • Being complacent and acquiescent 
  • Relationship sabotage
  • Feeling as if you are the victim all the time
  • Self-martyrdom
  • Having a defeatist mindset about life
  • Aimlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Extremely low self-esteem
  • Believing feelings are facts

Ways to Overcome Self Hatred and Self Loathing

There is no way to have a happy existence if you don’t like who you are and believe that you are never good enough. But how do you go about changing your perspective of what lies beneath?

We all have experiences in our past, some are more complex than others. But there is not a soul who will ever make it to the end of life without feeling that they didn’t do their best at some point. Or that they weren’t the person they should or could have been. 

The key is to remember that each new day brings with it the potential to be your best and who you want to be. We are not defined by what we have done, but rather what we chose to do with our future. So you can sit in your hatred and wish you had done differently, or you can pick yourself up and be the person you want to be. Until the time you take your last breath, there is always the chance to be a better version of you.

Believe That you Did What you Were Capable of

Hindsight is truly 20/20. Things always look way more apparent when a situation unfolds. But the one true reality is that we all do what we can with what we are given. Whatever has happened in your past, you have to believe that you did the best to your abilities.

And also, that you handled it the only way that you could. You can always envision how you could have done things better. But to give yourself a break, try to look at how things could have gone worse. And look inside your heart to see the situation for what it was. 

Look at the Situation From Another’s’s Perspective

Think about how many times you have put yourself in someone else’s shoes and given them the lenience that you never give yourself. Why is it so easy to give everyone else a pass?

When you look at your actions from an outside perspective and take in all the factors surrounding your behavior, you might find that anyone in your shoes would have acted as you did. You might, in fact, see that you performed better than other people would have.

We all would like to think we know how we would act if put under stressful conditions. But until you are really there, you have no idea what you will do. Give yourself a break by trusting that you did best under the circumstances. 

Ditch Your Social Media

Although self-loathing has been around for quite arguably as long as human beings have, social media might be creating a systematic problem. When people use social media, they often only show the best parts of themselves. And they want people to view them in the best light.

For those who suffer from self-hatred, the constant comparison of themselves, to most likely the falsely perfectly fabricated life of others, is tormenting. What is termed “”toxic comparison“” happens when we continually compare ourselves and our lives to others.

According to scientific research, people who stop using social media are much more productive and happy. And they tend to exhibit fewer signs of self-hatred than those who are frequent users. So ditch social media and start to look around at reality.

Pinpoint Triggers Through Journaling

The best way to overcome feelings of self-hatred is to get at the source of where it comes from and the things that perpetuate your feelings. If you can identify those things that set your negative feelings in motion, it becomes much easier to stop them. 

Journaling is an excellent way to decipher those things that lead to your negative thoughts about who you are. By writing down common themes about what you did, who you were with, and how you felt engaging in specific activities, you should be able to see some common patterns in what triggers your negative feelings. 

Once you have figured out what sets them in motion, you can avoid them when possible. Or, you can develop a coping mechanism to combat the thoughts before it leads to a downward spiral.

Turn Your Negative Self-Talk to a Positive

One of the hardest things for anyone experiencing self-loathing to do is to turn their negative self-talk to positive. It is tough for those who feel bad about themselves to think about the good they possess. Take time every day to think about one thing you love about yourself and make a note of it. It doesn’t have to be anything significant.

Something as simple as making an excellent pasta salad, will bring positive feelings. Once you have written them down, keep a copy close for times when the negative creeps in, so it doesn’t take over. Sometimes you just need a reminder of what is goodness you have inside.

Evaluate the People in Your Life

At times, we can choose people in our lives that we feel we are worthy of. If you don’t feel as if you are lovable, then it might make you more likely to be around people who are critical and toxic to you. Because of confirmation bias, people who have self-hatred are more apt to form relationships with abusive people. 

Or, when they are in an abusive relationship, they will stay. When you think you are undeserving of good things, you tend to seek out self-punishment. And sometimes that can be in the form of the company you seek. One of the ways to overcome self-hatred is to eliminate those people in your life who only make you feel worse about you. And to find others who foster and lift you up. 

Stop Engaging in Pleasing Behavior

Sometimes self-hatred can turn into the need to please others. And when that happens, instead of trying to make yourself feel better, you can work hard to please those can’t be pleased. Unfortunately, that only leads to more confirmation bias that you aren’t good enough or can’t make others happy. 

Remember, in the end, the only person that you can ever truly make happy is you. So if you are in a relationship that only brings you down, that is doing nothing but perpetuating hatred toward yourself.

Find a Counselor for Help

Sometimes self-loathing is so ingrained, and it comes so naturally, that it takes a little more to see the goodness inside. If you can’t seem to get past your negative thoughts, then find someone who can help.

Talking with a counselor to challenge negative perceptions about yourself and to find ways to cope with your feelings is sometimes necessary to move forward. The right therapist can help guide you using tools like Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Mindful Meditation that seek to challenge those negative thoughts that might be keeping you stuck. 

And since sometimes there are more looming mental health issues underneath, having someone sort through your feelings, and maybe get to the root of your self-hatred, it is critical to find the answers you seek to find a happier new you. 

Self-Loathing can be Overcome

Self-loathing is a feeling as if you are never good enough, capable enough, or just enough, in general. For some, it can lead to feeling down and engaging in negative self-talk. But for others, self-loathing, over time, can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. 

The excellent news is self-hatred is something that you can overcome once you get to the root of your feelings. If you work on challenging your negative self-perceptions, surround yourself with people who love and support you, and learn to find the goodness you possess by giving yourself a break once in a while, you can overcome it. 


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