What To Do If You Hate Yourself
I hate myself, I hate my life – how do I get out of this?
This is the first question that came to mind when I began writing this article. The second was, what does it mean to “hate” oneself; a person or an object? It turns out there are many different things one can hate in people as well as objects. One thing we know for certain though, hating oneself isn’t healthy. No matter which way you look at it, there are always two sides to every story.
When someone hates themselves, they tend to fall into several categories. They may be self-destructive, addicted to drugs or alcohol, depressed, anxious, etc., all signs of emotional distress. When you’re going through something like this, it’s important to understand why you feel the way you do rather than just focusing on the problem itself. In other words, instead of thinking I’m fat why don’t I just lose weight, try asking yourself why am I fat? What makes me think I’m fat? Why would I want to change?
It’s very common for people to hate their bodies. This often stems from not feeling good about themselves based solely on appearances. People say they hate their bodies because they hate the way they look. As if looking good were enough. We’ve all seen those advertisements where celebrities show off toned arms and legs, taut buttocks, perky breasts and perfect abs while they proudly proclaim “I love my body.” These ads make us feel inadequate. More importantly, these images never tell the whole truth. Celebrities use a lot of makeup and plastic surgery enhancements to achieve these looks, some even more extreme than others. And then, there are reality TV shows such as Extreme Makeover and its spinoffs that glam up ordinary people and put them on national television. Reality TV has become so popular that even the most average of us now want to see ourselves as beautiful and desirable. But, we rarely ever see what goes on behind closed doors. Behind the scenes, the cameras capture only the best parts of our lives, leaving nothing but the most edited versions of our true selves to watch. Even worse, the media often focuses on the superficial aspects of our appearance. For example, we hear about how much time Lindsay Lohan spends getting her eyebrows done, or how Angelina Jolie got liposuction to remove extra pounds around her thighs, yet hardly anyone talks about how hard it is for someone overweight to find clothes that fit correctly.
Another reason people hate themselves is due to past trauma or abuse. There are many cases where survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse or any number of traumatic events end up hating themselves. Many women will confide in close friends or family members that they hate themselves after surviving rape or incest. Women in abusive relationships often say similar statements. Sometimes, women will also admit that although they hate themselves for having been abused by their partners, they still blame themselves for putting up with it. Although survivors of abuse deserve help and support, it doesn’t mean that they should hate themselves either.
Many times, when people hate themselves it’s simply due to laziness or lack of effort. Instead of doing anything constructive to improve their situation, they choose to stay stuck in a rut. In order to break free from a bad habit, it takes motivation and willpower. If you hate yourself for smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, eating junk food, watching too much television, shopping excessively, or any number of destructive habits, chances are you’ll need to take action before long. If you don’t, you won’t be able to stop.
The opposite scenario is also possible. Someone could actually enjoy themselves despite loving themselves less than they’d prefer. Perhaps they aren’t doing anything meaningful with their life or perhaps they’re not happy with their current state. Either way, they aren’t necessarily doing everything right. Loving yourself means taking care of your needs and wants without putting everyone else’s needs above yours. It’s easy to forget that you exist apart from your loved ones. Unless you prioritize your own happiness, you might not realize how unhappy you really are until you begin examining your lifestyle.
A third category involves people who dislike themselves for no apparent reason whatsoever. Some people decide they hate themselves for reasons that seem completely arbitrary. They may rationalize their feelings as justified, attributing their unhappiness to poor choices, personal shortcomings or failures. Others will claim that they hate themselves because they’re lazy, spoiled, or overly sensitive. Whatever the cause, there is usually no real explanation for why someone feels this way.
If you hate yourself, it’s probably time to seek professional help. Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer individuals coping skills and a sense of community. In addition, therapy offers a safe space in which you can talk openly about your problems. Talk therapies including cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy are effective ways to deal with complex issues such as depression, anxiety and anger management.
In severe situations, medication may be necessary to manage symptoms. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can reduce chronic stress levels and increase overall moods. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing behaviors and thought patterns, is another option used to treat conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks. CBT techniques include relaxation exercises, meditation, journaling, group discussions and cognitive restructuring. Depending on your particular condition, hypnosis may also play a role in treatment. Hypnotherapists can address both physical and psychological ailments using guided imagery. Hypnotherapy sessions are particularly useful for helping clients overcome addictions and cravings.
Your therapist should be able to determine what type of intervention is suitable for you based on your specific needs and circumstances. If you suffer from severe depression, medication may be recommended. However, if you’re suffering from milder forms of depression, psychotherapy is likely sufficient. Medications are sometimes prescribed for mental health disorders but typically only after weeks or months of talking to your doctor. With proper treatment, however, you can learn new ways of dealing with your emotions and live happier.
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