Why I Hate Myself: Understanding Self-Loathing
It’s common for people to have feelings of self-doubt from time to time. However, some individuals may find that they experience these feelings constantly. They may feel like they are worthless or not good enough, and they may even feel hatred toward themselves.
If you’ve found yourself struggling with these types of difficult thoughts or feelings, you may be suffering from more than the occasional poor self-esteem. These extreme feelings of self-hatred or self-loathing can negatively affect mental health and impact many other areas of your life. Understanding the signs of self-loathing and learning where to turn for assistance can help you address your negative feelings and their effects on your overall well-being.
What Is Self-Loathing?
Self-loathing is a strong feeling of dislike for oneself. Self-loathing can cause you to be extremely critical of yourself, resulting in low self-esteem. Feeling like you are never good enough or undeserving of happiness can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Signs of Self-Loathing
If you believe that you or someone you love may be experiencing self-loathing, there are telltale indicators you can look for. If you notice these signs on a consistent basis, you may be struggling with self-loathing:
- Negative self-talk
- Feeling insecure
- Feeling like a constant failure
- Feeling like a victim all the time
- Feeling hopeless
Common Self-Hatred Thoughts
With self-hatred comes an inner voice that tells you things about yourself that may not be true. Someone who has self-hatred is harsh and constantly criticizes themselves. Examples of self-hatred thoughts include:
- “I can’t do anything right.”
- “I’m worthless.”
- “No one could ever love me.”
- “Why am I so disgusting/fat/ugly?”
- “I don’t deserve to be happy.”
There are many phrases someone can say to themselves that would indicate self-hatred. It is important to recognize the types of things you tell and believe about yourself in order to know if you are experiencing self-loathing.
Why Do I Hate Myself?
There can be a lot of reasons why someone may feel they hate themselves or have high levels of self-loathing. Having a negative view of yourself does not typically happen for one specific reason. Instead, it occurs due to:
- Experiences from childhood: Having a neglectful or abusive parent or guardian during childhood can lead to feelings of worthlessness and insecurity, turning into self-loathing later in life.
- Repeated negative experiences: If someone has been in consistently bad relationships, had negative experiences in the workplace or even has poor interpersonal skills, they may feel isolated and unworthy of happiness. This can lead to self-loathing and self-hate.
- Abusive relationships: Being in a relationship where you are told you are worthless, unlovable or ugly can be damaging to your self-esteem. You may start to believe these negative things about yourself and develop self-hatred.
- Mental or physical health: There are certain mental health diagnoses that have self-loathing as a symptom. Experiencing a physical illness or limitation can also lead someone to feel isolated or “less than” and turn to self-loathing.
There are also many other reasons why someone may feel they hate themselves and develop a deep sense of self-loathing.
Harsh Inner Critic
Having a harsh inner critic can cause someone to constantly berate themselves and never feel good enough. If someone is constantly telling themselves that they do not deserve happiness and are not lovable, beautiful or smart, it becomes harder and harder to not believe those things. Having a harsh inner critic can cause a cycle of self-hatred that becomes very hard to get out of, creating feelings of self-loathing.
A history of trauma in a person’s life can lead to poor self-esteem and feelings of self-loathing. In particular, those who have experienced something traumatic during childhood have a higher risk of developing low self-esteem.
Research has shown that bullying has a direct negative impact on self-worth and increases self-loathing. This is the case for both the bully and the victim of bullying. When someone is bullying or being bullied, it often makes them feel like they are worthless or makes them hate themselves more.
Setting high and unrealistic expectations for oneself can inevitably lead to feelings of failure. If you are setting rules for yourself that are impossible to reach or maintain, it can make you feel incapable or never good enough and lead to self-loathing.
Sometimes, feelings of self-loathing and self-hate are a symptom of a bigger mental health concern. Mental health diagnoses like depression and anxiety can cause feelings of sadness, isolation, hopelessness and overall shame. These symptoms can lead to feelings of self-loathing and low self-esteem, and they can continue to perpetuate if the person is unable to recognize they are experiencing depression or anxiety.
Overcoming Feelings of Self-Loathing
If you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of self-loathing, there are ways to help combat this negative self-talk and improve your overall relationship with yourself.
There may be certain things that trigger feelings of self-hatred and loathing. Knowing the situations that spark these feelings can help reduce the occurrence and intensity of self-loathing.
To find out what your triggers are, look for patterns in your feelings and behavior. If you are feeling self-hatred or loathing, look back to see what happened before those feelings started in order to gain insight into what that trigger may be. The next time the trigger occurs, you can be more prepared to combat negative self-talk and feelings.
Challenge Your Inner Critic
When you are experiencing self-loathing, it can be very hard not to listen to the inner critic that is telling you to believe negative things about yourself. A way to overcome feelings of self-loathing is to challenge your inner critic. When your inner critic starts to tell you negative things, challenge that with a positive response.
Your inner critic may say, “You are not worthy of love. Why would anyone want to be with you?” Challenge that thought and say instead, “I am worthy of love, and I deserve to be loved.” The more you practice challenging that inner critic, the less of an effect it will have over time.
We often find that it’s easier to be compassionate to others than to ourselves. Self-loathing and hatred can cause someone to have no compassion for themselves and be very critical of everything they do.
Practicing self-compassion exercises can help someone learn to be kinder to themselves and develop a healthier self-esteem. These exercises can include:
- Self-compassion break
- Exploring self-compassion through writing exercises
- Supportive touch
- Combating negative self-talk
- Self-compassion journal
Seek Professional Help
If you or someone you love is struggling with self-loathing or feelings of self-hate, seeking professional help might be the best step to take. A trained professional can help you find the source of your self-loathing and come up with techniques to combat self-loathing. If you are looking for effective but accessible tools that can help you deal with self-loathing, the Nobu App is a great resource. With tools such as goal tracking, assessments, mindfulness training and other helpful lessons, the Nobu App is rich in free and easy-to-use resources. For an additional fee, you can also be connected with a licensed therapist and receive teletherapy through the app. Sign up for Nobu and download the app today, available for free on Apple and Android devices.
Edited by – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor’s in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. He has written, edited and published content for health care professionals, educators, real estate agents, lawyers and high-level university faculty… Read more.
Written by – Danielle Boland
Danielle is a licensed clinical social worker, currently living and practicing in central Connecticut. Danielle graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a Masters of Social Work, and always had the goal of opening her own private practice. She specializes in women’s issues, maternal health and postpartum mental health. Danielle is passionate about empowering people of all ages and hopes to use her writing skills to provide more resources for those looking to improve their mental health… Read more.
Medically Reviewed by – Dr. Angela Phillips
Angela is a licensed therapist and clinical researcher, and has worked in public, private, government, and not-for-profit organizations, across clinical and research-oriented roles. Angela’s clinical and research experience has included suicide prevention, cognitive behavioral… Read more.
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