11 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Do you ever think to yourself, “How do I stop hating myself?” You know how annoying and frustrating it can be to be flooded with self-hatred feelings. Self-hatred not only limits what you may do in life but also exacerbates mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Identify the signs and symptoms of self-hatred, understand the basic reasons and triggers, recognize the strong consequences it has on your life, and lastly, establish a strategy to overcome these perceptions of self-hatred and build positive coping mechanisms so you can feel better.

Young woman learning to embrace herself in the mirror

Beyond experiencing occasional negative self-talk, certain tell-tale signs indicate you are living with self-hatred.

  • Think all-or-nothing: You only perceive yourself and your life in black-and-white terms, with no gray areas in between. If you make mistakes, you may feel as if your life has been destroyed or that you have failed.
  • Focus on the negative: Even if you’ve had a nice day, you’re more likely to dwell on the negative aspects of it.
  • Emotional reasoning: You accept your emotions as realities. If you realize that you are feeling lousy or like a failure, you may conclude that your sentiments are accurate and that you are, in fact, bad.
  • Low self-esteem: You have poor self-esteem and don’t think you measure up to others in everyday life.
  • Seeking validation and/or approval: You are continually seeking external validation from others to affirm your self-worth. Your perception of yourself shifts based on how others assess you or just what they think of you as a person.
  • Can’t take compliments: When someone says something nice about you, you dismiss it or assume they’re just being kind. You have a hard time accepting compliments and instead of gratefully accepting them, you dismiss them.
  • Trying to fit in: You usually feel like a stranger and are constantly attempting to blend in with others. You get the impression that people despise you and cannot comprehend why they would want to spend some time with you or like you.
  • Taking criticism as a personal attack: When someone criticizes you, you tend to see it as a personal affront or dwell on it long after the event.
  • Frequently getting jealous: You feel envious of others and may try to put them down to feel good about your circumstances.
  • Fearful of positive relationships: You may drive away friends or possible partners out of fear of a bad outcome or ending up alone if someone gets too close.
  • Pity parties for oneself: You have a propensity to host pity parties for yourself, believing that you have been given a poor hand in life or that the odds are stacked against you.
  • Scared to dream big: You’re afraid to have ambitions and dreams, and you feel compelled to live your life responsibly and securely. You may be terrified of failing, succeeding, or looking down on yourself irrespective of your accomplishments.
  • Self-critical: You have a hard time admitting and forgiving yourself when you make a mistake. You may also feel regret over things you’ve done or failed to do in the past. You may find it difficult to let go of mistakes and move on.
  • Pessimistic or cynical outlook: You have a cynical perspective on things and despise the world you live in. You have the impression that those who have an optimistic view are ignorant about how the world truly works. You don’t see things improving and have a negative outlook on life.

As we grow older, we tend to absorb our parents’ subtle and not-so-subtle mindsets and acts. We unconsciously adopt these ideas as our point of view regarding ourselves. They form the base for our inner critic, which manifests as a continuous commentary in our minds. When we go out on a date, we get thoughts like, “You sound so stupid, he’s uninterested.” “You’ll make a fool of yourself,” it warns us when we have a job interview. “Who would hire a neurotic mess like you?” you might wonder.

This “voice” appears when we least expect it, such as when we are succeeding or achieving what we want. It can even be comforting, instructing us to look after or protect ourselves. “Don’t be concerned about meeting new people. You will be alright on your own. “Relax at home.” The critical inner voice, on the other hand, is two-faced in that it would also be there to chastise us if we follow its orders: “You loser!” You have no genuine friends. “You’ll never be satisfied.”

There are specific areas of life when this inner critic is stronger and more bothersome for each person. We may be able to silence this voice in one place, but it will reappear in another. Its impact can be significant if it goes unnoticed. It has the potential to destroy our relationships, careers, parenting styles, and personal objectives. If we don’t cope with our inner critic, it will most likely affect our children, leading to a destructive cycle that will last generations.

Beyond the reasons for self-hatred, it’s critical to comprehend the consequences that can occur when your emotions and thoughts reinforce that self-hatred. The following are some possible outcomes:

  • You may give up trying because you believe it will only fail.
  • You may engage in self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse, overeating, or isolation.
  • You can ruin your efforts or neglect your own needs.
  • You might unconsciously choose toxic friends or partners who are harmful to you or will take benefit you.
  • You may suffer from poor self-esteem and low self-confidence.
  • When you’re paralyzed by indecision, you could have problems making decisions and feel as if you need others to help you.
  • You can be a perfectionist who has trouble getting things done.
  • You may be overly concerned about everyday issues or your future.
  • You find it difficult to believe wonderful things about yourself and believe that others who congratulate you are merely being nice or deceptive.
  • You may be unable to pursue your goals and ambitions and feel stifled.
  • You may have doubts about your ability and what you can achieve.
  • You may believe that the future is dismal and that you have no hopes for it.
  • You may feel as if you don’t belong anyplace, that you’re an outcast, and that you’re cut off from the rest of the world.

Many of the consequences of self-hatred are identical to the signs. As a result, it will become a self-fulfilling narrative from which you will find it difficult to escape. You will never move forward if you stay stuck in this cycle of self-hatred. You may, however, break the cycle with social support.

The thought of how to make yourself less unpleasant might have crossed your mind at the time of extreme vulnerability and lack of self-confidence. There are a lot of things you may do to stop the cycle of self-hatred. Above everything, know that you are not at fault for how you are feeling, but you are accountable for the activities you do from now on to make positive changes.

Try Writing And Journaling

Write things down to record your thoughts on the events of the day. Examine the events of the day, look into situations that may have sparked specific emotions, and be aware of the underlying roots of any thoughts of self-hatred.

Look for trends in your daily journaling and try to become more conscious of how your moods or emotions change. According to studies, expressive writing, like journaling, can aid in the alleviation of psychological distress.

Fight back With Your Inner Critic

Try to recognize the thoughts and emotions you have when confronted with bad situations as you become more aware of the emotions and their triggers. Analyze and assess your thoughts to see if they are realistic or if you are indulging in mental distortions.

Try confronting your inner bully with counter-arguments. If you’re having trouble developing a strong voice on your own, envision yourself as a stronger person you know—a friend, famous person, or superhero—talking back to the voice of authority in your head.

Exercise Self-Compassion

Instead of hating life or condemning yourself, try being compassionate to yourself. This entails changing your perspective on problems, recognizing your accomplishments, and abandoning black-and-white thinking. What would you say to a friend or family member who was feeling similar self-doubts?

Was this the end of the world when that one horrible event happened? Could you rephrase the circumstance such that it appears to be a setback rather than a disaster? You will open yourself up to more pleasant feelings and a pleasant inner voice if you can be kinder to yourself. Compassion-focused treatment has been shown to promote self-esteem, which may assist to minimize self-hatred.

Spend Time With People Who Are Upbeat and Positive

Start hanging out with individuals who make you feel good, rather than people who make you feel bad. Think about joining a self-help or support group if you don’t have any positive individuals in your life. If you’re not sure where to start, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a fantastic place to start, no matter what kind of mental health challenges you’re dealing with.

Meditate Regularly

Start a regular meditation practice if you struggle to calm down and distance yourself from your bad thoughts. Meditation allows you to silence the negative voice in your thoughts. It’s also like exercising a muscle: the more you do it, the simpler it becomes to calm your mind and let go of unpleasant thoughts.

Consult A Therapist

You might gain from seeing a psychotherapist if you’re having trouble with your mental health. While you can change your perspective on your own, a psychotherapist may assist you in dealing with previous trauma and guide you to more beneficial thought patterns.

Look After Yourself

Rather than participating in damaging activities, practice self-care. This method entails taking care of your mental and physical health by doing everything it takes to keep you happy. To name a few, eat good foods, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, limit the use of social networking sites and screen time, enjoy time in nature, and speak lovingly to yourself.

Make Progress Towards the Life You Desire

Starting tiny efforts toward what you really want in life could be the solution to constantly feeling lousy. Finding a new job path, traveling, paying off debt, leaving a relationship, establishing a family, or relocating far away are all choices. Decide what your values are, and then start to act on them. It will be better and easier to gain confidence in yourself if you begin to align with your ideals.

1. Pay attention to your feelings

Focusing on your emotions is one of the first elements in learning to forgive yourself. You must recognize and process your feelings before you can go ahead. Allow yourself to acknowledge, embrace, and welcome the emotions that have been awakened in you.

2. Admit the mistake aloud

If you’ve made a mistake and are having trouble letting it go, say out loud what you’ve learned from it.

You may be able to relieve some of your responsibilities by giving voice to the thinking in your mind and the feelings in your heart. You also imprint what you learned from your choices and consequences in your mind.

3. Consider each mistake as a training opportunity.

Consider each “mistake” as a learning opportunity that will help you move forward faster and more persistently in the future.

We may forgive ourselves and move forward if we remember that we did the best we could with the knowledge and tools we had at the time.

4. Allow yourself to put this practice on hold.

If you commit a mistake and find it difficult to forget about it, visualize your feelings and thoughts about the mistake flowing into a container, like a box or a mason jar.

Then tell yourself you’re putting this on hold for now and will come back to it if and when it’s beneficial.

5. Have a dialogue with your inner critic.

Journaling can assist you in understanding and developing self-compassion. You can start by writing a “dialogue” between yourself and your inner critic. This might assist you in identifying mental patterns that are preventing you from forgiving yourself.

Create a list of the traits you appreciate about yourself, such as your capabilities and talents, during your journaling time. When you are feeling bad over a mistake you made, this can help you gain confidence.

6. Work on improving your self-confidence.

Many persons who ruminate suffer from low self-esteem. In fact, low self-esteem has been linked to increased ruminating. It’s also been connected to a higher chance of depression.

There are numerous strategies to improve one’s self-esteem. Building on current strengths, for example, can boost self-esteem by increasing a sense of mastery.

In psychotherapy, some persons may opt to concentrate on improving their self-esteem. Self-efficacy may improve as you improve your self-esteem. You might discover that you have more control over ruminating.

7. Practice meditation

Because it includes cleansing your thoughts to get to an emotionally peaceful state, meditation can help to prevent ruminating.

Seek out a calm spot if you find yourself with a cycle of thoughts in your mind. Sit down, take a deep breath, and concentrate solely on your breathing.

8. Recognize your triggers

Make a mental note of the circumstance every time you find yourself ruminating. This contains information such as where you are, what time it is, who is near you (if anyone), and what you have been doing that day.

You can lessen your rumination by figuring out how to avoid or control these triggers.

9. Speak with a friend

Isolation might result from ruminating thoughts. Breaking the loop may require talking about your feelings with a buddy who might provide a fresh viewpoint.

Instead of ruminating with you, talk to a friend who can provide you with that perspective.

10. Seek counseling.

If your brooding thoughts are dominating your life, counseling may be an option. A therapist can assist you in determining why you’re ruminating and how to address the underlying issues.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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