Is It Normal To Hate Yourself
“I hate myself,” my client said with tears in her eyes. “I’m such an awful person.” She was crying because she felt so ashamed and guilty about the things she had done to hurt or neglect people over the years. She couldn’t understand why she didn’t know how to treat herself better and feel more deserving of love. Her shame was making it hard for her to even look at herself in the mirror.
We talked through some of the reasons this might have happened, but I knew there were other factors at play in her life. This wasn’t just a case of self-esteem problems; it was something deeper going on. As we dug into this, we uncovered several triggers for her self-loathing behaviors, which included feelings of inadequacy, rejection, abandonment, toxic shame, guilt, powerlessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. In addition to these negative emotions, she also experienced positive ones like anger, resentment, and shame.
When you’re feeling low, it’s easy to blame yourself when something goes wrong instead of looking at what caused those feelings in the first place. But when you become aware of your underlying beliefs that cause you to dislike yourself, you can take steps to change them. You can then begin to develop new patterns of relating to yourself based on what you believe rather than simply reacting by shaming yourself. For example, if you tend to react negatively when you don’t get your way, you could try negotiating with others in order to get what you want without being resentful. If you tend to feel bad when you make mistakes, you could learn from them and practice taking responsibility for your choices. And if you often find yourself blaming yourself when other people aren’t present to validate you, you may need to work on developing stronger relationships with friends and family.
In fact, this pattern can occur anywhere you do anything repetitively and automatically throughout your day. When you notice the tendency to put yourself down, ask yourself, “What am I doing here?” What are you trying to prove? Do you always have to finish last? Does everything turn to chaos whenever another person isn’t available to help? Is it difficult for you to accept compliments from others? Are you afraid of success? Do you constantly compare yourself to others? Or maybe you’re one of those people who feels entitled to certain standards of living and beauty regardless of whether they’re met — do you ever criticize your appearance? These are all examples of automatic reactions that keep repeating themselves until you stop doing them and replace them with something else.
If you’ve been struggling with self-hate, it’s important to recognize that hating yourself doesn’t mean you should avoid treatment. There are actually many treatments out there that focus on helping clients improve their inner world while learning skills to manage their outer lives. Some examples include psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), ACT, EMDR, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback. If you think you would benefit from any of these approaches, please consider seeking professional help.
For now, let’s talk about what happens inside your head when you start to despise yourself. Self-loathing is often driven by unconscious thoughts and beliefs that stem from childhood experiences, especially those involving significant emotional pain. The following are common themes that drive self-hate:
You’re not good enough
Your value is defined by your performance, not your intrinsic qualities
You don’t deserve respect
You’ll never amount to much
You don’t deserve happiness or joy
You’re not worthy
You’re damaged goods
The truth is that none of us are perfect. We all contain our share of imperfections and shortcomings, and no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to eliminate them completely. So instead of focusing on these perceived flaws, remind yourself of your strengths. Write a list of your gifts and accomplishments. Then tell yourself you’re beautiful underneath your faults. Think of yourself as resilient and strong. Remind yourself that you’re valuable and lovable. Know that you’re a creative genius hiding beneath your ordinary exterior. Realize that you’re more capable and resourceful than you realize. Remember that everyone has challenges and struggles, too.
This article was excerpted with permission from Louise Hay’s book, “You Can Heal Your Life.” To read the entire article, visit http://www.hayhouse.com/articles/self-hate.
Louise L. Hay writes books, audio programs, video seminars, CD s, DVD s, and MP3 downloads on topics ranging from personal transformation to spiritual wellness. Her popular “Ask Louise” radio show reaches millions worldwide every week discussing consciousness and personal transformation.
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