A few years ago, I really wanted a 3D printed copy of myself just to punch that version of me in the face. Why? Well, sometimes I just hate my self for the things I did. I picked on other people’s feelings, was lazy, and a very good liar.
Your reasons for hating yourself may be different than mine but I’m sure there’s something in this article for you to learn.
Maybe it’s because you’re eating too much food, or just the opposite.
Maybe you’re addicted to watching videos of people eating ridiculous amounts of food online and never get any work done.
Regardless of the cause for your anger and disappoint, the first thing you have to know before getting reading on is that it’s entirely natural to feel inadequate. What you’re feeling is something that most of us go through.
Understand that, in life, there will always be something that will make us feel a little bit of inadequacy. It happens to the best of us.
Why do I hate myself?
Self-loathing thoughts can be caused by any number of reasons so it’ll be practically impossible for us to pin point the exact cause of your hatred and disappointment.
However, we can make several more generalized deductions based on research which should lead you into the right direction and allow you to understand some of the turmoil happening inside of you.
In the mid-twentieth century, a psychoanalyst named Karen Horney published notable articles on the human psyche. In her research, Horney made the suggestion that people in the state of self-loathing can be broken down into various different “versions” of them selves.
She believed that, among these different versions, there lies two primary views of self which she called the “real self” and the “ideal self“.
The first she called the real self because it represents who we really are based on the actual makeup of ourselves in both the physical and mental aspects. The real self is a factual representation of the self that measures everything that we currently are, and, nothing more, nothing less.
The second she called the ideal self because, well, that person is our ideal self. The ideal self represents all that we wish we could be, with all the things we desire to have.
Examples would be like always wanting yourself to be in a state of joy as pure as a child’s or having a mind so steady that will not waver even if a mountain collapses before your feet.
More often than not, the ideal self comes loaded with everything that you currently do not have and probably never will. Let me elaborate.
If we look at Horney’s research, we can safely say that when self-loathing thoughts arise, it’s generally because our ideal self is overpowering the real self.
Consider my analogy of the ideal self wanting to be someone who’s always blissfully happy. Can anyone really attain that? Quick answer, no.
Life will always have its ups and downs no matter what you try to do or who you try to become. In this case, if that blissfully happy self is your ideal self, you would probably end up hating yourself for not always being happy.
By idolizing our ideal selves, our real self ends up being pushed through a never ending cycle of self-hatred that it can’t get out of because our ideal self will always be better in our eyes.
What made me end up hating myself?
In their studies, psychologists Lisa and Robert Firestone found key elements that pointed towards a primary cause for these feelings of self-hatred.
…these thoughts originate in negative early life experiences. The way we are viewed growing up and the attitudes directed toward us shape how we see ourselves.
Harmful views directed at us by parents or other influential caretakers are internalized to make up our self-image. Just as our parent’s positive attitudes toward us may lead us to develop self-esteem and confidence, their more critical attitudes can promote just the opposite.I Hate Myself – PsychAlive
It’s important to note that while their studies point towards negative childhood experiences as a primary cause for self-hatred, it certainly is not the only cause. Just as we have many different reasons to be happy, the same can be said about self-hatred.
What you’re going through may be from something more complex than just negative childhood experiences, or it may just be from some other issue(s) at a later point in your life.
If you’re in the spot where you now think your parents are to blame for intentionally making you feel this way and feel like confronting them about it, slow down. Don’t jump to conclusions so quickly. Chances are, they weren’t doing it on purpose.
Everyone you’ve ever come across in your life, regardless of whether they’re friends, family, or strangers, leaves a lasting impact on how your mind has developed. However, that isn’t the be all-end all.
You don’t just become the person you are simply because of your experiences in life.
Yes, they do play a huge role that’s almost impossible to ignore, but, as powerful as the experiences you’ve had are in shaping your persona, your mind is even more powerful.
You may have inadvertently shaped a version of yourself into your current self as a result of how people acted around you.
Our experiences shape our minds while our minds shape our realities.
Later on, those experiences you went through may have piled up on top of each other to make you feel like you’re suffocating from having too many different versions of your self inside you. Eventually, those feelings brought you to the present where you feel like you hate yourself.
Maybe you had a cranky aunt you were always around who influenced you to develop a cranky self, you’re angry dad an angry self, you’re Grammar Nazi of a cousin a Grammar Nazi self that made you point out the fact I just used you’re instead of your and how this sentence is way too long to be a properly phrased sentence.
Consider that what you’re feeling may not entirely be self-hatred.
Maybe it’s 80% confusion and 20% hatred. Maybe all those influences you’ve had in the past have blended together into an indistinguishable mess. The confusion mixed in with the hate might just be throwing you off from understanding the reality of your situation.
If you’re more confused than angry, you can probably fix the problem by simply getting more information on whatever is causing the complexity in your emotional state of mind.
Every person goes through their own different struggles and may be doing things that they’re completely unaware of. They may have influenced you just like how you’re probably influencing someone else right now.
Don’t blame anyone, including yourself. If you do, all you’ll be doing is allowing your hatred to spread like a wildfire.
How do I stop hating myself?
The mind is so complex that there is no one-and-done type of answer that suits everyone’s situation. And, unfortunately, I can’t change your emotions like I can a light bulb. So, you’ll have to digest what advice I can offer and come up with a suitable plan of action for yourself.
Below, I’ll give you the three main steps I used when dealing with the question of “Why do I hate myself?”.
This step is about finding the underlying cause(s) for your self-hatred. Most likely it isn’t just because of one thing. Instead, it’ll be many things branching apart from one another while working together to form a larger whole like the roots of a tree.
In the past, my self-hatred was mostly in response to my parents’ divorce as a kid. Having to go through that stage without any proper outlets to address my emotions, I pushed the anger and confusion towards myself.
To figure out the causes for your self-hatred, you’ll need to figure out what triggers you to make you feel angry at yourself. Is it when you feel humiliated? When you’re upset? When you’re lonely?
Whatever it is, you’ll have to at least know exactly what you’re dealing with before you can successfully move on to the next step.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.The Art of War – Sun Tzu
You found your problem during the first step, now it’s time to find out how to solve it. Again, I want to stress how important it is that this step should only come after you’ve figured out your main reason(s) for your self-loathing behaviour.
In this step, we’re trying to look for reasonable outlets that we can use to channel our emotions. This is about finding a place to direct your self-hatred without causing anyone harm–including yourself.
This step is really only limited by what you can think of as your solutions. Since the solution will have to reflect your character traits as well as physical and mental limitations for it to work, this is a very personal step that you’ll have to figure out yourself.
For example, if you’re an avid bird watcher, try to spend more time bird watching while also focusing more on what’s going on inside your head. In between looking at different groups of birds or moving to a different spot, you can take some time out and just write down a few things you’ve noticed about yourself.
In my case, I’m a huge bookworm and a huge believer in the entrepreneurial spirit. With those two main character traits in mind, I spend hours of my day reading books and thinking of ways to improve my business.
When I read, I often notice myself spacing out (in a good way) to the point that I feel like my mental activity is heightened. It feels like I can place myself in any character’s shoes and learn from their experiences.
As an example, I once read about a character getting angry that their food fell to the ground after a stranger walked into them. The character then made a huge scene about how the stranger should watch where he’s going and screw off if he’s not going to walk straight.
This got me thinking “Man this guy’s a hot headed idiot, it’s just popcorn. But… then again, wouldn’t I act the same way?”.
When I thought about that, I got my head working on figuring out viable warning methods for myself like me talking to myself and saying “Matthew you’re heating up, watch yourself” when I notice myself starting to get emotionally wound up.
When you’re engaged in your hobbies or just wandering your mind openly explore different avenues, you generally end up in a heightened sense of creativity and mental awareness. Think of it being like how our brain activity goes up and we feel our inner genius coming out when we take a shower.
The third step is: once you’ve figured out how to address your self-hatred, you’ll next have to address how to keep yourself from falling back into the same rut. This could be done by you slowly resolving other less major triggers for your anger. Do so until you feel like you’re down to your main triggers which will usually be the hardest to get rid of.
Address your smaller issues first
At this point, you’ll want your anger to only be tied to your main issues and triggers because once all the little ones are gone, it’s a lot easier to address the elephant in the room and keep it out for good.
Think of it like this: let’s say you’re a firefighter and you and your crew come on site and notice 10 buildings on fire in the same neighbourhood. You have 2 big 20 story apartments and 8 single family bungalows. You’re told that the 2 apartments have been completely evacuated and checked but have huge fires inside.
On the other hand, of those 8 bungalows, 4 still have elderly people and small children trapped inside them because of the fires blocking all possible exits while the other 4 still have people in them but the fires are only just starting to spread.
Knowing you only have a finite amount of time and resources, would it be better to first work on putting out the apartment fires or on the smaller ones?
Clearly, you’d work on the smaller issues first and then focus on the big ones after. That way, you have better control of your resources and your time. Plus, you get to save people who could potentially have gotten hurt.
Exercise plays a huge role in dealing with self-loathing behaviour. It allows our brains to release chemicals that increase mental activity which in turn allows us to think through our problems better.
It doesn’t take a lot at all, a few sets of jumping jack, several walks or runs will do the trick just fine. Always match whatever you try to do to your specific skill sets and physical limitations. We all have limitations, don’t go trying to burst through them right from the start.
You’re doing this to work on yourself, not hurt yourself.
While exercise is great, you’ll have to exercise as well as focus on addressing your emotional imbalance as well.
In the same way that no amount of just imaging you had a billion dollars in your bank account while you just keep lying in bed will actually manifest a billion dollars for you, no amount of pure physical activity will make you a better person unless you work on your mind.
Don’t get me wrong, physical activity definitely does help a lot but it has its limitations in dealing with the mind in the same way that the mind has limitations in dealing with the physical body.
As with everything that’s of importance, things take time. Don’t beat yourself up anymore than you already are. You’ll just make it worse for yourself.
How do you want to be in the near future?
For me, this was one of the biggest eye openers that really made me change. Things got really serious when I started thinking about my future and how I’d continue to hurt myself and, as a consequence of that, everyone else around me.
If I hadn’t thought about how my self-hatred hurt the people I cared about more than it hurt me, I probably would have never changed. Sometimes it takes a big kicker to change your bad habits if you’re as hard headed as I can be. Be patient.
Consider seeking professional guidance
If you’ve been dealing with self-hatred for a while and feel like nothing you’re doing is helping even a little, I want you to seriously consider getting professional assistance. Professionals will guide you through the process step by step and try to address your needs as much as possible.
By no means should seeking professional guidance be used as a last resort. You should always be open to it.
Maybe what you’re going through is just too complex for you to currently handle alone. Everyone could use a helping hand every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns in the comments below. I hope I’ve been able to help you out.