Self-hate is the extreme disliking or hating of oneself. It is generally thought of as a more extreme version of guilt and shame. In milder amounts it manifests as persistent negative feelings about oneself and a general life dissatisfaction with life, but in more serious cases it can lead to self-harm, suicide, or potentially violence towards others.
Self-hate is commonly found in various disorders, including: body dysmorphic disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and depression.
There are two main reasons why people hate themselves. The first is by repeating the negative messages they have received from others through emotional abuse or bullying; the second is their conscience is punishing them for their immoral behaviours and how they have treated people in their life.
Tip 1: Repentance
A common cause of self-hate is the result of the guilt we feel for our less than moral behaviours. Religiously speaking, it is called a sin when we behave in an immoral way that typically harms others, and the price we pay is guilt, shame, or even self-hate. Fortunately, there is a solution to this, and that solution is called repentance. Follow these three steps to practice repentance:
1) Write a list of things you have done that are bothering you the most.
2) Say a genuine and heart-felt apology, either to the people you have hurt, God if you are religious, or just say it to yourself.
3) Plan to change your behaviours, or the overall direction of your life if needed, and try to put the past behind you so you can move forward with a clearer conscience.
Tip 2: Forgiveness
Sometimes it is not our behaviours that are the cause of our self hate, but the effects others have had on us, due to emotional abuse or bullying. It could have been a parent, a friend, a classmate or co-worker who made you feel this way, but the best solution is the same regardless of the other: forgiveness. .
Forgiveness is the deliberate and intentional decision to let go of negative emotions like resentment, bitterness, anger, and vengefulness, which reduces your hostility towards those who have sinned, and allows you to feel a greater sense of peace and joy.
Forgiveness has also been shown in some studies to positively affect your health, by improving cholesterol levels and sleep; reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
1) Write a list of things someone else has done that are bothering you the most.
2) Consider all the negative emotions you feel by holding onto resentment and refusing to forgive them.
3) Write or say “I choose to forgive X for behaviour(s) Y, because it will bring peace to my heart, and I would like to be forgiven for my mistakes too”.
Tip 3: Self-improvement
Aside from forgiving yourself and others for any mistakes and sins that have been committed, another great way to reduce self-hate is to stop focussing on the past, and start thinking of ways to improve yourself instead.
1) Virtues – One of the best ways to improve yourself and feel better with who you are is to become more virtuous. This website contains a list of virtues with a brief description of each one, and the virtues that it compliments, as well as the vices they transcend. Ask yourself which virtues you are currently lacking and try to find ways of practicing them more in your life. https://www.virtuesforlife.com/virtues-list/
2) Contribution – Focus on ways that you can contribute to the world more. Some ideas are share your talents with the world, volunteer time to a good cause, give compliments and encouragement more freely, and practice random acts of kindness.
3) Strengths and Weaknesses – Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of life we feel more comfortable and competent in, and we all have areas that could use some improvement. Reflect on your strengths and realise that you have gifts to share with the world. Next, develop a plan to address some of your weaknesses and find ways that you can improve and build upon them.
“To err is human, to forgive divine.” ~ Alexander Pope
“To one’s enemies: “I hate myself more than you ever could.” ~ Alain de Botton
“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…” ~ Cheri Huber
“Once you embrace your value, talents and strengths, it neutralizes when others think less of you.” ~ Rob Liano
“Hostility, malice, and sadism are the result of helplessness and self-loathing; that they are all produced by adaptation to a hypercritical social reality and are not attributable to innate aggression.” ~ Arno Gruen
“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ~ Stephen Fry