We are often our worst enemy. Self-hatred, driven by low self-esteem, can negatively affect all aspects of our life and make us feel inadequate, unworthy and unlovable.
Self-hatred can suck the life out of you
I am such a loser.
I knew I would screw up.
No one will ever love me.
I am a complete failure in life.
God, I hate myself!
Do these thoughts sound familiar to you? Self-hatred is like a demon that sits on your shoulder, cripples your inner self and sucks all the positivity out of you. It eats away your sense of self-worth, breaks your confidence and thrives on low self-esteem. And so you feel terrible about yourself, hating, criticizing and shaming every imperfection and flaw you ever had. It limits you from exploring your potential and keeps you trapped in your own distorted perception of yourself. You hate how you look, how you behave, how you talk to others, how you work… how you live. And if you end up making a mistake, it feels like the end of the world. But you don’t deserve to live like this. You don’t need to compare yourself with others. You don’t need to feel everyone is better than you. You don’t need to hate your reflection in the mirror. You don’t need to stop yourself from living… from being happy.
We all dislike some aspects of ourselves. It’s absolutely natural. But when you despise yourself beyond measure, it can seriously affect your personality, your relationships, your social interactions, your work, your personal life and your mental health. It is a demon that you must exorcise by focusing on overcoming your low self-esteem and your habit to self-loathe.
Self-hatred is like bullying yourself
Self-hatred includes persistent feelings of self-loathing, low self-esteem, self-criticism and inadequacy. It makes you unfairly compare yourself to others and focus only on the negative aspects of life and overlook the positive aspects due to negativity bias. It is also closely associated with existential shame and guilt and can be a predictor or precursor for different psychiatric conditions like body dysmorphic disorder, borderline personality disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Studies have found that self-loathing and self-criticism leads to “negative self-labelling and harsh judgement along with negative emotions such as anger and contempt with the self,” and “is associated with vulnerabilities to various forms of psychopathology.” Hating yourself excessively can even lead to self-harm and suicidal tendencies.
Living with low self-esteem and self-hatred is like having a bully inside your own head. It persistently insults, criticizes and demeans you. It calls you names, tells you that you are useless, ugly, and not worth being loved. It lies to you that everyone hates you because of all your perceived or negligible imperfections. It tells you that you can never do anything right and you don’t deserve to be happy. However, you need to realize that these are just your thoughts and not your reality. You have to understand that this bully is born out of a poor sense of self-worth, poor self-image, and a feeling of inadequacy caused by adverse or traumatic experiences in childhood, like having abusive parents. It is simply your inner voice that has turned into a mean internal critic.
Do you hate yourself?
All of us dislike ourselves at times and engage in healthy self-criticism. This is why it can often be difficult to identify if your level of self-hatred is unhealthy. In case you are not sure about whether you loathe and hate yourself excessively, here are a few warning signs you need to look out for –
1. Low self-esteem
This is the most prominent and crucial symptom of self-loathing. Poor self-esteem makes you feel you’re not good enough for anything. It makes you believe you don’t deserve to graduate, get a good job, have a supportive family or loving relationship. You think you don’t have any skills and are unworthy of opportunities. This makes you hate yourself even more. Self-esteem is how much you value, appreciate, and approve of yourself. It is linked to “a person’s ability to hold a favorable attitude towards oneself and to retain such positive beliefs in situations that are challenging, especially situations that include being evaluated by others,” explains a 2017 study. But when you have poor self-esteem you see yourself in a negative light. Your thoughts are dominated by negative self-talk and self-criticism. Studies show that it can affect our behavior and mental health and it is associated with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.