Self hatred seems to come to people a lot easier than self acceptance. I have often wondered why this is. Why is the default set at loathing rather than love? You might hate yourself for not being pretty enough, thin enough or rich enough. Often, self hatred is a symptom of perfectionism. We expect a lot of ourselves and when we invariably don’t measure up to our ridiculously high standards (perfectionism) we decide we are unworthy and not good enough.
In fact, I would say I have never met anyone who said that they feel they are good enough. Well, maybe one or two people but generally, we all feel we are inferior in some way. The thing is – looking at ourselves in this way is incredibly unhelpful. I am not saying we should all turn into narcissists as that would be equally unhelpful but self love is a great place to build a happy balanced life from. Self hatred is not. Self hatred leaves us with a big gap – a void that we are always trying to fill.
I often ask clients to give me a list of 5 things they like about themselves. This is where they begin to squirm in their chair and begin to look really uncomfortable. Why is this so? It is health and normal to accept and acknowledge our good bits.
Is it the pressure the media puts on us? We are confronted on a daily basis with airbrushed images and believe we should look like that too. We are also bombarded with fake Facebook posts where people exaggerate how wonderful their lives are. Most of it is complete bullshit! Believe me I know because I see the real story behind closed doors. Why do we feel we havew to protray ourselves as gorgeous, rich, amazing? Why can’t we be good enough as we are – just being??
Critical parents or being bullied at school can scupper healthy self esteem too and can lead to someone spending years in counselling trying to undo the negative programming they received in their early lives.
We often compare our ‘behind the scenes footage’ to other people’s ‘highlight reels’ – a very false and inaccurate comparison, yet we still do it.
How to overcome self hatred
Focus on your strengths – what are you good at? What do you like about yourself? Write them down and look at them daily.
Accept that self hatred is ineffective and unhelpful. It does not help you achieve anything – end of story.
Be more aware of how self critical you are and ask yourself where the evidence is for this? is it true or is it old and inaccurate ‘programming’ from your childhood?
Do things that help you feel better about yourself – give to charity, help others and be kind. That always nurtures positive feelings in a person.
Pamper yourself – you deserve it. It is okay to spoil yourself now and then. It is also okay to take time out and rest. Stop the guilt.
Remind yourself that no one is perfect. We all have flaws.
Watch your thinking and stop yourself when you are self critical. Look at reframing that negative thought about yourself. Example: I am not stupid, I sometimes makes mistakes just like everyone else. No one is perfect all of the time.
Give yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself as you would a dear friend!