Why self-love is the cure for self-hate

A woman looks hatefully at her reflection in a broken mirror

Have the words “I hate myself” ever crossed your mind before? Those thoughts could be born from a moment of extreme frustration or stress. Or even when you are feeling sad and down on yourself.  

Whatever the reason, self-hate or self-hatred, can have a major negative impact on us and prevent us from experiencing the amazing life that we have the potential to live.  

That negative self-talk can drag us down and even add to our problems instead of improving them. 

So, what exactly is the cure to self-hate, or how can we prevent it in the first place? 

In order to answer these questions, we need to take a deeper look at exactly what self-hatred is and why it happens. 

What is the meaning of self-hate? 

Self-hate, also known as self-hated or self-loathing, is defined as an intense dislike that is directed inwards towards ourselves, instead of at other people.

This type of negativity directed at ourselves can become like a self-fulfilling prophesy, making us feel guilty for feeling so bad about ourselves in the first place, and then making us feel worse about ourselves because of that guilt.  

It can be tough to break out of that cycle and begin to love ourselves again once we feel so negative about who we are, but it can be done.  

What causes self-hate? 

Self-hate is like poison, slowly becoming more toxic to us over a longer period of time. There are many factors that can cause it in the first place, and it can be caused by several of those causes, or even all of them all at once. 

Perfectionism

This is one I have personally struggled with, and still struggle with it to this day. When we do not allow ourselves room to make mistakes in life, it is so easy to be hard on ourselves when we do slip up—and we will, because no one is perfect.  

These mistakes can leave us feeling horrible about ourselves. 

Negative inner voice 

Although this can also be a symptom of self-hate, like mentioned above, often times it contributes to and even escalates any self-hate that already exists. 

I often compare negative self-talk to feeling like your arch nemesis has been following you around all day whispering perfectly timed insults, picking at all your flaws, and sabotaging your success. And the more you listen to that person, the more powerful and louder they become until it is all you can hear. 

After some time of hearing nothing but these awful things about ourselves, it can be easy to understand why we would start to believe them.  

This negative voice comes from our environment, the people we surround ourselves with, the content we consume, and our past experiences.  

Our childhood

Our childhood years are so important and shape such a huge part of who we become as we grow older. If we are raised in a difficult environment that does not foster positivity, it can be difficult to develop that when we reach adulthood. 

Being surrounded by negative adults, or an abusive or neglectful situation increases our negative self-talk. 

Low self-esteem 

What if your inner voice isn’t outright negative, but it isn’t very confident or positive all the time either? A lack of confidence can cause us to turn small problems or mistakes into much larger ones. When we lack confidence, we become more sensitive and overly critical of ourselves. 

Anyone that has ever been bullied before also knows that the experience can stay with you for life, causing you to replay those experiences or insults over and over again in your mind which contributes to low self-esteem.

Trauma 

Most people who struggle with self-hate have had a traumatic experience in their past.  When we experience trauma, it is possible we can blame ourselves for what happened to us, fueling self-hatred.

Toxic Relationships 

Have you ever had a friend or partner that was extremely negative? Maybe they were also physically, or verbally abusive and liked to hurl insults at you. 

Any negative and unhealthy relationship can make for a negative environment and create low self-esteem and negative self-talk. 

Mental Illness or Disorder 

Self-hatred could be the symptom of a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression.  

For example, when we are depressed, we already feel many other sad or negative emotions such as shame, guilt, and sadness. This can result in us feeling inferior. It can also make it difficult for us to realize that the disorder is making us think these negative thoughts.  

Comparison 

As humans we do this strange thing where we tend to only notice people that we think are doing better than us. We compare our lives to theirs and wonder where we went wrong.

This has only increased since the rise of social media and “Instagram culture.” What people fail to realize is that they are trying to compare an average or even bad day in their lives, to the best day of someone else’s that they curated to share on social media. Not many people post about their bad days on social media. They post the happy pictures. The vacations. The get-togethers with friends.  

Also, so much of what is posted on social media isn’t even “real”. Photoshop, filters, and even manipulating how a photo is taken.  

Of course we can never measure up to something that isn’t real. 

Being a people pleaser 

Most people want desperately to be liked by others and to feel like we belong. This means when someone praises us, or gives us a positive response, we internalize it and feel happy with ourselves.  

That means that the reverse is true as well. When we fail to meet someone’s expectations and needs, we can feel like we have disappointed someone. This can lead to us feeling like a failure, or like we aren’t worthy of love.  

So now that we know what causes self-hate, what can we do to prevent it? 

How do we prevent or cure self-hate? 

The answer to this one is actually simple and is in the title. We cure self-hate by learning to love ourselves.  

Self-love is the opposite of self-hate, so by truly experiencing and practicing self-love, we can drive self-hatred away forever.  

So how do we learn to love ourselves? 

Learning to love yourself is a journey, but there are several things you can do to inspire self-love.

How to love ourselves 

1) Forgiveness

By letting go of any grudge, or negative feelings we may be holding against ourselves for our past, we make space to truly heal and embrace who we are.  

2) Surround yourself with positivity 

Changing our environment can make all the difference in the world. By escaping a toxic situation or getting distance from a negative person, and instead immersing ourselves in positivity, it makes it so much easier for us to become a positive person as well. 

3) Be gentle with yourself 

Instead of critiquing ourselves and all the things we are doing wrong, we need to be kinder to ourselves. No one is perfect, and beating ourselves up for nothing doesn’t help anyone.  

Would you talk to your loved ones the same way you are talking to yourself? 

4) Engage in self-care 

Self-care is literally the physical manifestation of loving ourselves, so by practicing good self-care, we are showing ourselves that we are worthy of love.  

When we learn to take better care of ourselves, all other aspects of our health like our mental and physical health will improve as well, which will in turn improve our state of mind. 

5) Change your mindset 

By changing our mindset and the way we think about ourselves and the world around us, we can transform that inner voice from a negative one into a positive one.  

Before we even notice it, those negative thoughts will be gone.

6) Talk to a mental health professional 

While it is possible to overcome self-hate on our own, a mental health professional can give us all the tips and tools we need and tailor them specifically to us and our lives. They can also help us heal from past trauma and negative experiences, which is a necessary and important step in our self-love journey. 

Remember, self-hatred took a long time to develop, so it can take some time for your mindset to begin to shift. However, when you learn to love yourself, the possibilities become endless. 

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