Everyone has their good days and bad days. Some unexpected curves in life can make you feel under-impressed by your own self. You tend to have negative thoughts about yourself. If you make mistakes at work, you will take all the blame and consider yourself worthless. Self-hatred is unhealthy and you should try to overcome negative thoughts about yourself. Let us tell you the reasons behind self-loathing and how to stop hating yourself.
What is self-hatred?
If you have intense and negative feelings towards yourself, that’s self-hatred. Dr Rituparna Ghosh, Clinical Psychologist, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, says it involves a deep-seated belief that you are unworthy, inadequate or just flawed. It is an emotional state that can manifest in different ways such as negative self-talk, self-destructive behaviour and a pervasive sense of shame or guilt.
People who struggle with self-hatred often engage in distorted thinking patterns, magnifying their flaws and minimising their strengths. This cognitive distortion reinforces their negative self-view, creating a cycle of self-reinforcing negativity, notes the expert.
Causes of self-hatred
There are some common contributors to self-hatred:
1. Early life experiences
Childhood experiences, especially those involving neglect, abuse or harsh criticism, can significantly shape a person’s self-perception. Negative interactions with caregivers or peers during formative years may lead to internalising feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy.
2. Social and cultural influences
Societal pressures, unrealistic beauty standards and cultural expectations can contribute to negative self-comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Constant exposure to media portrayals of “ideal” lifestyles and appearances can erode self-esteem and foster self-criticism.
A tendency towards perfectionism, where people set unrealistically high standards for themselves, can lead to chronic self-criticism. Failures or perceived shortcomings may be magnified, making them believe that they are just flawed.
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4. Negative self-comparison
Constantly comparing oneself to others can trigger feelings of self-hatred. This could involve focusing on others’ achievements, appearance or successes while ignoring one’s own strengths and accomplishments.
5. Traumatic experiences
Trauma, whether a single event or ongoing situations, can deeply impact a person’s self-concept. Trauma survivors may blame themselves for the events or believe they are unworthy of love and care due to their experiences, Dr Ghosh tells Health Shots.
Tips to stop hating yourself
There are strategies that you can consider to work on reducing self-hatred.
1. Self-compassion practice
Cultivating self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your struggles without self-judgement, and by speaking to yourself in a supportive and empathetic manner.
2. Cognitive restructuring
Cognitive-behavioural techniques can help you to identify and challenge negative self-talk and distorted thought patterns. Question the validity of your self-criticism, gather evidence for your positive qualities, and reframe negative beliefs with more balanced and realistic perspectives.
3. Mindfulness and acceptance
Mindfulness practices can help you to develop awareness of your thoughts and emotions without judgement. By learning to accept your thoughts and feelings as transient experiences, you can reduce the intensity of self-hatred and create space for self-growth.
4. Focus on strengths and achievements
Create a list of your strengths, accomplishments and positive qualities. Engaging in activities that highlight these strengths can boost self-esteem and counteract the tendency to focus solely on your so-called flaws.
You can also go to a therapist who can offer a safe space to explore the underlying causes of self-hatred and ultimately build healthier self-esteem.