7 Life-Changing Ways to Stop Hating Yourself and Find Lasting Happiness
As the expression goes, we are often our own worst enemies. A lot of people are the first to criticize and belittle themselves.
Hating yourself is a form of what’s often called “self-loathing.” It is actually a fairly common occurrence for a lot of people to harbor self-loathing thoughts.
Although common, self-loathing is not something you are born with. Studies in psychology have shown that self-loathing is a learned mechanism. As babies, humans lack the capacity to hate themselves.
Hating yourself is a symptom of low self-esteem. Having low self-worth has many manifestations, but self-hatred is perhaps the most damaging of them all. You undermine your accomplishments and abilities, convincing yourself that others are better than you.
Regardless of its origins, hating yourself can have numerous adverse effects in your life, such as feelings of extreme loneliness; higher risk of depression; difficulties in friendships and romantic relationships; decreased academic or work performance; increased vulnerability to substance and alcohol abuse; and even more fatal consequences.
You are probably reading this because you detect instances of self-loathing in your life and want to change, or perhaps you want to help someone overcome their sense of low self-worth.
In this article, we will show you seven gentle, loving ways that you can stop hating yourself.
But first, let’s explore the major causes of the symptoms of self-loathing.
Symptoms of Hating Yourself
Psychological studies show that your behavior can indicate if you have self-loathing tendencies. For instance, you may have self-loathing tendencies if you over- or under-eat; if people more often than not describe you as “too easygoing” or a pushover; if you tend to dislike people
you think are a threat or competition; you sabotage relationships or isolate yourself from people you love; you engage in negative self-talk; and/or you have uncontrolled spending habits.
These behaviors can be subtle, especially if you find yourself habitually internally comparing yourself to other people, or constantly finding ways to put yourself down without being able to truly identify anything that is wrong with you. Or, you may pay attention to your critical inner voice as it berates you, and refuse to challenge it even when it leads to suffering.
Some try to suppress these inadequate feelings by behaving as if they're superior to everyone else, or trying to prove that they're the best to avoid the internal abuse that continues to occur. However you find that self-loathing is manifested in you, the process shows the difference that everyone has between their own healthy and realistic point of view of themselves versus the inner critic that fights to assert its destructive ways of looking at ourselves.
7 Gentle Instructions on How to Stop Hating Yourself
1. Learn to become self-aware.
Feeling good is one thing, but being able to pinpoint exactly why you feel good is another things altogether. In fact, understanding the reasons behind your positive feelings is a sign of someone who is self-aware. Once you become self-aware, you become better at cultivating more good in your life, and eliminating or knowing how to change the negative things.
Becoming self-aware is the first key to getting over feelings of self-loathing. Having self-awareness means that you have a clear perception of who you are, including your strengths, weaknesses, values, beliefs, and emotions. If you have self-awareness, you will have the opportunity to make conscious changes in your behavior and beliefs, which in turn helps you change your emotions.
Wherever you choose to put your focus, behavior, and emotions will help determine where you go in life. When you have self-awareness, you are able to see the direction in which your thoughts and emotions are going. Until you have this awareness, you will have trouble making the changes that you want in your life.
Self-awareness is developed by putting your focus on the details of your thoughts and behavior. For example, if you experience an emotional reaction of frustration, you can take note of the thoughts and triggers that led to this emotion.
You can also notice when you can alter the way you perceive things, or choose to not believe what you are thinking. Doing this will help you make better choices in your thought process before you have an emotional reaction or demonstrate any destructive behaviors.
2. Transform your negative thoughts.
Negative thinking patterns have a strong and devastating impact on your life. Develop habits that help you stop being negative. Once you are able to recognize and identify your negative thought patterns as they are happening, you can step back from them and learn to view the thoughts in your head as just thoughts.
You can stop seeing them as being a reality. You can recognize when you're fused with your thoughts and you are taking them too seriously. When you know you tend to have negative thoughts, you can choose to listen to only the thoughts that you find to be valuable or helpful instead of automatically obeying everything that comes to mind.
Seeing your thoughts in passing can help you take the time to turn negative thoughts into positive. For example, let's say you wake up one day and it is pouring down rain. If you immediately think to yourself, "Today is going to be awful," then you will probably have the awful day that you predicted. However, if you can turn your thought process around and choose to not believe that negative thought, you can still have a great day.
The truth is, it is not a problem that you have negative thoughts. The problem arises when you believe your thoughts are true. When you can release these thoughts, they lose their power over you to create unpleasant emotions.
3. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.
Learn to let go of guilt, anger, and resentment that hold you down. There’s nothing worse than having a feeling of complete despair after making mistakes in life and possibly failing. Usually, you're so blindsided by the mistake that it may take months or even years to recover. However, with mental fortitude and emotional toughness, the pathway of pain can turn into understanding, growth, and forgiveness.
There are a few things you can do to begin to forgive yourself. First, look for the silver lining in all negative situations. You may have gained a new perspective on something, or your mistake may have led you in the right direction that ultimately brought you joy. Also, consider how you can use the pain of your mistakes to benefit your future. Perhaps you can use the new information you have learned as a method of reshaping your goals.
Use the lessons you learned to redefine what you want out of life. And sometimes you just have to relax, take a breath, and let go. Don’t take all of your mistakes so seriously. Whatever it is that you’re going through, many other people have been through it before, and many other people will continue to go through it in the future.
For example, let's say you turned down a job that in retrospect seems like it would have been a very good opportunity to take. You have to remember that you have information now that you did not have back then that is influencing your current opinion.
At the time, you made the best decision for your needs. You may have learned from this experience that you need to change your priorities when it comes to job benefits or features of a job, but now you can use that information moving forward to set yourself up in the best position as possible.
4. Stop being in competition with others.
You have a unique gift to give to the world, so it’s time to stop keeping tabs of what others have that you don’t, and start believing that you are special, too. It is healthy to feel a little bit of competition when it helps you push yourself. However, if you take it too far, it becomes an issue, putting you at odds with everyone around you, and accentuating your low self-esteem.
To stop being competitive with other people, step back and work through the emotions behind it. Figure out what triggers your feelings of competitiveness and envy. Maybe you can't stand to lose, or to see someone do better than you at work.
Whatever your triggers are, identifying them can help you take control if the circumstances arise in which you feel a sense of competition. You can teach yourself to re-think your feelings at the moment and stop to think why you are feeling that way. Does your competitiveness stem from jealousy, and if so, is it merited? Figure out where the core emotion is coming from and remind yourself that you can calm yourself.
Let's say your co-worker gets a raise and you don’t. If this makes you feel offended, stop to consider the possible reasons why. Do you think your work is better than theirs? Do you think that they are lazy and do not deserve the raise?
Then change your thinking a bit. Maybe they took on a new project that you were unaware of, or maybe they were up for a reevaluation and it resulted in a raise. Don't jump to conclusions that will make you feel competitive right off the bat. Just pay attention to your own work and making it the best it can be so that when it is your turn for a raise, you will get one too.
5. Spend time with people who are positive in their outlook.
Counter bouts of self-hate by being with positive people who make you feel supported and appreciated just as you are. While many people focus simply on diet and exercise to improve their health, studies have shown that our well-being is also impacted by the friends we keep.
In fact, certain behaviors are contagious, and our social networks can impact our chances of obesity, anxiety, and contentment. Reports have even found that a person’s exercise routine can be strongly influenced by their social network.
If you spend time with others who have a positive self-image and a healthy amount of self-esteem, you can pick up those habits and feel the same way about yourself. Try to focus on having three to five close, real-world friends instead of a lot of distant Facebook friends.
You want to be able to have a meaningful conversation with your friends, and be able to read each other's body language when you are communicating. Having a core group of friends who add positivity to your life is more beneficial to your health than any drug you can take, and it will provide you with more benefits than just about anything else.
Alternatively, negativity begets negativity. Stay away from people who are constantly complaining or looking at the worst possible scenarios. If you find that you have a friend who is constantly bringing you down, limit the time you spend around that person.
When you are around that friend, take note of how your thought process changes to match theirs, or how you feel when you leave them. Doing this will likely keep you from wanting to spend time with them in the future, especially if you are trying to create a positive change in your life.
6. Develop a loving relationship with yourself.
Instead of hating, start learning how to become loving toward yourself. The relationship that you have with yourself is arguably the most important one you will have in your whole life. This relationship marks the foundation for everything else that you have. Work to identify the traits you have that you associate with other people being in a good place in their lives and appearing to be successful and happy.
Engaging in self-care is also a good way to develop a loving relationship with yourself. When life gets hectic, it’s easy to neglect your own health. But practicing self-care is important for your overall wellness. Don’t feel selfish or guilty when you take time to care for yourself. Your health is never a selfish thing. You will only be able to help other people when you are first able to help yourself.
Everyone practices self-care differently, and each person may even do various things for self-care throughout the day. It is important to find exactly what works best for you. Maybe you want to take the time to be quiet and read a book or meditate, or maybe doing an intense exercise or taking a run is better for you. Think of what makes you feel good, and carve out the time in your day to do it. Don't put self-care aside for other obligations that you have in your life.
In the video below, Aaron Doughty talks about how self-love is our natural state of being, and provides steps we can take to love ourselves now.
7. Celebrate your triumphs.
One of the main reasons that we set goals is to achieve them. After all of that work, it is important to celebrate and reward yourself. If you achieve a goal and then move right on to the next task, you will make the process seem unfulfilling, and this will take the fun out of meeting your goals.
Learn to reward yourself for the achievements you’ve made. Appreciate all that you are able to do. Celebrate your triumphs, no matter how big or small they are. Take the time to know you gave the project your all, and that was all that you could ask for. When you celebrate your triumphs, you will gain the confidence that you need to take on more challenges.
When you celebrate, your body releases endorphins and you feel great while your success is being reinforced. So much of what we do is limited or motivated by our psychology, so celebrating your wins reinforces the behavior you want to demonstrate when you are facing new opportunities.
On the other hand, if you don't celebrate your accomplishments, you are telling yourself that whatever you are doing is not very important. If your days feel mundane, you will stop putting forth the effort to get the results that you need. A lack of celebration leads to feelings of emptiness that will cause a decreased level of performance over time.
Start Being More Loving Towards Yourself
Today we’ve learned about the negative effects of self-hate, and how loving ourselves can help us find peace and lasting joy in our lives.
Hopefully, these tips on how to become more loving towards yourself will inspire you to change your life in a positive way.
Finally, if you are experiencing symptoms of self-loathing that trigger depression or anxiety, you might want to consult a certified mental health specialist to immediately address this matter.