Do you struggle with self-hate? Ever wonder why? Ever wonder how to stop self-hate? To answer these questions, it is helpful to first understand some of the most common reasons why some people develop self-hate.
Low self-esteem often develops because a person gets treated badly over and over and, as a result, they begin to feel bad about themselves. For example, if a child is told repeatedly that they are “stupid”, they will begin to internalize these words and begin to think of themselves as being “stupid”. Their self-image, thus, begins to form around the way that they are talked to. The more others criticize them, the more they begin to criticize themselves. It is hard to feel good about yourself if you are constantly criticized and put down, especially if the person who criticizes you the most is yourself.
Unresolved family of origin issues
If you grow up in a chaotic or painful environment, it can leave you with a lot of emotional pain. These old wounds can be a huge contributor to feelings of self-hate. Because we begin to develop our self-image in early childhood, our experiences with our families can have lasting impacts on our self-esteem and our feelings of being loved and wanted. Homes without security frequently create individuals with a lot of insecurities.
Abuse or Domestic Violence
Some people who live in an abusive environment develop feelings of self-hate. They may begin to blame themselves for the abuse in the same way that the abuser blames them for causing the abuse. For example, abusers often make statements such as “I wouldn’t have to hurt you if you weren’t so stupid and just did what I told you to do.” The victim may hear this so often that they begin to call themselves stupid or mistakenly believe that they “caused” the violence to happen. Victims, thus, begin to talk to themselves the way that they were talked to.
Individuals who are severely bullied often develop feelings of self-hate. They may begin to believe that they are what the bully says they are. However, it is important to remember that the bully’s goal is to increase their own sense of power and self-importance by putting someone else down. They aren’t right, they are just mean.
Distorted self-image or body image
Some people develop a distorted body image which can lead to feelings of self-hate. This may occur because of an underlying belief that they need to be “perfect”. For example, some people actively compare themselves to the airbrushed photos of supermodels. When they don’t live up to the image that they think is “perfect”, they begin to critique all of their flaws. The more flaws they find, the more they begin to “hate their body”.
Unresolved trauma can have lasting effects on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For example, some trauma survivors blame themselves for the trauma, while others feel guilty for surviving when others didn’t. This self-blame or guilt along with other impacts of the trauma can lead to feelings of self-hate. Working through these issues with a therapist who is experienced in trauma recovery can have a profound impact on alleviating these feelings.
Depression and anxiety
Thoughts of self-hate can occur when someone experiences severe depression and anxiety. The greater the depression and anxiety, the more intense the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and self-loathing tend to be. When depression and anxiety decrease, negative thoughts and feelings also tend to decrease. Fortunately, medication and psychotherapy can be very effective in helping a person decrease their depression and anxiety.
Unresolved guilt or shame
Some people develop feelings of self-hate because of the guilt and shame they feel around the choices they made in the past. They may begin to ruminate about their mistakes and have difficulty moving past them. However, it is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are an important part of how we learn and grow. Learning from those mistakes and then learning to forgive yourself is an important part of developing healthy self-esteem.
Individuals who struggle with addictions often develop feelings of self-hate. This frequently occurs because of the shame they experience from their lack of ability to control the addiction. The more out of control they feel, the more they tend to hate themselves. They then turn to their addiction to help them cope with these feelings which lead to more feelings of being out of control.
Ways to stop hating yourself and start loving yourself
Resolve old emotional wounds
Don’t let old emotional wounds from the past control your life today. Commit to resolving the pain from the past so that you can become free to create the life that you want today.
Update your self-perception
Remember that your self-perception may have developed out of unhealthy situations and relationships. Update your self-perception to match who you are working to become instead of holding onto who you saw yourself to be in the past.
Change your self-talk
It is hard to feel good about yourself if you criticize and put yourself down all day long. Create self-talk that encourages you and works to lift you up.
Learn healthy coping strategies to manage depression and anxiety – Psychotherapy can help you overcome the problems associated with depression and anxiety and can help you develop coping skills to manage those feelings in the future.
Develop new skills
Remember that the more skills we have, the more confidence we tend to develop. If you want to boost your self-esteem, learn new skills and then become proficient at using them.
Take healthy risks
Don’t stay stuck in old patterns and old thoughts. Try new things and be willing to learn new ways of living.
Learn how to resolve conflicts
Conflict resolution skills are an important part of creating healthy relationships. Healthy relationships can be a powerful buffer against feelings of self-hate.
Be kind to yourself
Treat yourself the way you want to be treated, not the way you were treated. Be kind, gentle, and encouraging to yourself. You might be surprised by the changes that occur as a result.
Recognize progress rather than demanding perfection
No one is perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be perfect. Instead, focus on making incremental changes that improve your self-esteem and the quality of your life. If you fall back into old behaviors, be self-encouraging instead of self-critical.
One way to improve your self-esteem is to reward yourself for making progress. For example, if one of your goals is to eat healthier during the week, you could treat yourself to a massage after achieving your goal. You will be amazed at how much better you feel when you do good things for yourself and then reward yourself for doing those good things.
Change your actions to change how you feel
Many people try to wait until they feel better about themselves before they start doing good things for themselves. This strategy is often counterproductive. Do good things for yourself and the side-effect will be that you will start feeling better about yourself.
Confront your addictions
If you are struggling with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, gambling, or other things, get help. It is hard to feel good about yourself when you are living a self-destructive life. Seek the help that you need to overcome your addictions and start living the life that you deserve.
Psychotherapy can help you overcome the problems that come with self-hate. You can learn to love yourself and live a happier, more productive life.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.