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I hate myself. What do I do?

Self-hatred is a painful and debilitating experience that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. It's a complex emotion and can be rooted in low self-esteem and negative self-perception.

Woman with long hair looking at herself in a steamy mirror

If you find yourself trapped in the relentless cycle of self-loathing, remember two things. First of all, you are not alone. Secondly, there is hope for healing.

If you’re wondering what you can do about it, you’re already on the right track! In this article, we will delve into the deep-seated issue of self-hatred and its relationship with self-esteem, and provide practical strategies to help you break free from this destructive pattern and improve your relationship with yourself.

What’s self-hatred?

Self-hatred is an intense and pervasive feeling of dislike, disgust, or even loathing directed toward oneself. It can manifest in various ways, such as harsh self-criticism, feelings of worthlessness, and a constant sense of failure.

Imagine you're working on a project, but you constantly tell yourself you're a failure, not good enough, and compare yourself negatively to others. These negative thoughts erode your self-esteem and lead to stress and anxiety. They can even affect your performance and fuel a vicious cycle of self-hatred.

It's crucial to recognize these harmful thoughts and seek support to change them. There are several ways to help yourself by nurturing your self-esteem and relationship with yourself.

“Why do I hate myself?”

Understanding the root causes of self-hatred is the first step toward healing. Sometimes, it just comes from the way you think about things, but many factors can also contribute to self-loathing, including:

  • Comparison: Constantly comparing yourself to others, especially on social media, can erode self-esteem and trigger self-hatred.

  • Perfectionism: Setting impossibly high standards for yourself and feeling like a failure when you don't meet them can foster self-hatred.

  • Negative relationship experiences: Painful experiences of rejection, betrayal, or loss can lead to a profound sense of unworthiness.

  • Self-criticism: Habitual self-criticism and negative self-talk can reinforce self-hatred.

  • Negative childhood experiences: Past experiences of abuse, neglect, or bullying can leave deep emotional scars, leading to self-hatred.

How to build a positive relationship with yourself

Building a positive relationship with yourself is the key to overcoming self-hatred and fostering a happier, more fulfilling life.

Here are actionable strategies to help you cultivate self-love, boost self-esteem, and break free from the shackles of self-criticism.

1) Nurture self-compassion

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a close friend. When negative thoughts arise, counter them with self-compassionate statements. Acknowledge that it's okay to make mistakes and that nobody is perfect.

You can use these examples of affirmations to promote self-compassion:

  • "I am worthy of love and kindness, especially from myself."

  • "I forgive myself for my mistakes and understand they’re part of my growth."

  • "I treat myself with the same love and respect I offer to others."

2) Challenge negative thoughts

Identify and challenge the negative thoughts that underlie your self-hatred. Are these thoughts based on facts, or are they distorted perceptions? Cognitive restructuring can help you replace irrational thoughts with healthier ones.

It’s a therapeutic technique used in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals change negative thought patterns that contribute to emotional distress. Try following these steps to challenge negative beliefs about yourself:

  1. Recognize automatic negative thoughts that arise in response to situations. Let’s say, you’re feeling anxious before a job interview, thinking, "I'll definitely mess up and embarrass myself." This is the negative thought!

  2. Assess the accuracy and validity of these thoughts. Following the previous scenario, ask yourself, "Is there any evidence to support the thought that I'll mess up and embarrass myself?"

  3. Challenge negative thoughts by questioning their basis in reality. In this example, you might recognize that the thought is based on fear rather than actual evidence.

  4. Replace negative thoughts with more balanced and accurate ones. Replace the anxious thought with, "I've prepared well, and I'll do my best. I may not be perfect, but that's okay."

Apply these techniques in your daily life and keep a journal to monitor thought patterns. Practice makes perfect (or at least better)!

3) Find your neutrality

Being neutral and free of judgment is important for improving self-esteem because it fosters a healthier and more compassionate relationship with yourself.

Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This can be a powerful tool in breaking the cycle of self-hatred. Try these breathing techniques to get started.

4) Identify and limit negative influences

What you feed your mind influences the way you think about yourself and others. If you keep seeing people looking perfect and seemingly succeeding at everything, it can affect the way you see yourself. Similarly, if people around you keep bringing you down and criticizing you, you might start believing them!

Curate your environment to limit negative influences. Try to reduce exposure to media, people, or situations that trigger or reinforce your self-hatred. You may want to unfollow negative social media accounts and distance yourself from toxic relationships, replacing them with things that make you feel good about yourself.

5) Journaling

Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. This can help you gain insight into your self-hatred triggers and track your progress over time.

Did you know you can use our platform to keep a diary? Head to your profile and you can start writing today! Your posts will remain private unless you decide to make them public on the feed.

6) Review your standards

Instead of aiming for perfection, set achievable goals for yourself. You can want to do better without putting an extreme amount of pressure on yourself!

Consider asking a friend, sibling, or professional to help you set healthy goals for yourself. You might realize that you’re already achieving a lot! Remember to celebrate your small victories. Progress takes time!

7) Surround yourself with positive people

It’s so important for your self-esteem to have access to a safe space where you can be yourself without judgment.

Nurture a network of supportive and understanding friends and family members who can provide encouragement and a safe space to express your feelings.

Join our welcoming community to meet like-minded people from around the world who support and encourage each other, 24/7.

8) Take care of yourself

We take care of the things we love… But we also love the things we take care of! Taking care of yourself is key to building your self-esteem and overcoming self-hatred.

Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical and emotional wellbeing. This includes exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and engaging in hobbies you enjoy.

9) Seek professional help

Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can be incredibly beneficial if you hate yourself.

Consider asking for professional help. A trained therapist can help you explore the root causes of your self-loathing and provide tools to combat it.

10) Forgive yourself

You may be hating yourself because you feel like you’re doing everything wrong, and you need to punish yourself.

Understand that everyone makes mistakes and has imperfections. Forgiving yourself for past actions or decisions is a crucial step toward self-acceptance.

Think of it this way: You can’t overcome self-hatred if you don’t give yourself a chance to grow!

Remember that you deserve self-love. Improving your relationship with yourself is a lifelong endeavor, but the rewards are immeasurable!


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