Depression /

I hate myself

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If you hate yourself, it's important to identify the root cause. Common causes include extreme self-criticism, unrealistic expectations, comparison to others, past mistakes, feeling out of place, and force of habit. Realize that it's okay to hate yourself, but it's also possible to work on improving your self-image. Start small by having compassion for yourself and finding one or two small things you like about yourself. Don't define yourself by your flaws or mistakes, and practice positive self-talk. Accept compliments from others and work on improving your mental health, which can alleviate feelings of self-hatred.

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Maybe you don’t like the sound of your voice or the way you look. Or maybe you feel like you just can’t do anything right, no matter how hard you try. You might feel like you’re stuck in a downward spiral: the more you hate yourself, the more you mess up, and then you hate yourself even more… So how do you get unstuck?

Why do I hate myself?

It helps if you can identify where the feelings of self-hatred are coming from. There are lots of things that affect the way we feel about ourselves. Here are a few:

  • Extreme self-criticism. A little bit of constructive self-criticism can help you notice your mistakes and correct them. But once it starts making you feel bad about yourself, it’s no longer useful.
  • Unrealistic expectations. If you’re constantly falling short of your expectations, it might be time to reevaluate them. “Lowering your expectations” might sound like a bad thing, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by keep your expectations impossibly high.
  • Comparison. It’s easy to compare your weaknesses with everyone else’s strengths. Sure, you have flaws and have made mistakes… but so has everyone else, including the people you look up to and admire the most.
  • Mistakes from the past. Maybe you’re holding a grudge against yourself for something you did a long time ago. There’s nothing you can do to change the past, but you can learn from it and move forward.
  • Feeling out of place. It’s important to find a group of people who are supportive and appreciate you. This could be a support group, or an online community based on a shared interest.
  • Force of habit. Once you make a habit of talking yourself down, it can be hard to stop. “I hate myself” can sometimes be an intrusive thought—something that just pops into your mind, with no real meaning behind it.

What now?

The first step is to realize that it’s okay to hate yourself. Lots of people do. You might be surprised at the people around you who secretly hate themselves—often it’s people you look up to and love. Hating yourself doesn’t make you a bad person or unworthy of love.

Still, people do tend to become happier as they learn to feel better about themselves. It’s a process and it takes time, but here are a few steps you can take to improve your self-image:

  • Start small. You don’t have to absolutely love yourself right away. Start by having compassion for yourself. Practice being kind to yourself. You don’t have to like someone to be nice to them. You also don’t have to like every single thing about yourself. Start by finding one or two small things that you do like about yourself, and spend more time thinking about those.
  • Don’t define yourself by your flaws or mistakes. Flaws are things you have. Mistakes are things you do. They’re not who you are.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Say positive things about yourself—out loud, just to yourself. If you can’t think of anything, you don’t need to lie—just start small. Maybe you’re not ready to say “I am smart” or “I am beautiful”. But if you’re reading this, you can truthfully say “I am working on myself.” It’s not about where you are, but which direction you’re going.
  • Accept other people’s compliments. When people say nice things about you, don’t argue or roll your eyes. Just say “thank you.” Try to believe that they mean it. Consider why they might have a point. You can add this to your positive self-talk: “So-and-so told me I’m good at…”
  • Improve your mental health. Feelings of self-hatred are a classic symptom of depression. If you treat the underlying depression, your self-image will improve too.