How to Turn Self-Hatred into Self-CompassionNovember 12, 2013 • By Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, Self-Compassion Topic Expert Contributor
“I’m such a loser.”
“I can’t do anything right.”
Too often, people brutally judge and attack themselves. If everyone treated others as poorly as they treat themselves, the old biblical adage, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” could be a recipe for war.
Incessant negative beliefs about oneself may be called self-judgment, self-attack, or low self-esteem, but it all boils down to one menacing problem: self-hatred. At its most extreme, self-hatred can lead people to retreat into substance use, suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors, or violence toward others.
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If you beat up on yourself, are disgusted with yourself, or in any other way experience the effects of self-hatred, there are two important things to know: why the self-hatred exists, and what you can do about it.
Self-hatred almost always stems from childhood. Trauma experienced after childhood also can fuel negative feelings about oneself.
Children believe what they hear from others. If a parent tells a child that she is good for nothing or can’t do anything right, then that becomes the truth in the child’s mind. It takes a very mature and insightful child to say to herself, “Something is wrong with Mom/Dad for telling me this. An adult shouldn’t say such mean things to me. I’m just a child.”
Instead of saying, “Something is wrong with Mom/Dad,” the child usually thinks, “Something is wrong with me.” That simply is how a child’s mind works. Children need safety and stability. It is much less chaotic for a child to think something is wrong with himself than to think he cannot rely on the people upon whom he depends for food, shelter, and survival.
Sometimes, a child never hears harsh judgment from a parent or other caregiver, yet self-hatred manages to fester. This happens when, for whatever reason (genetics, environment, plain bad luck, etc.), a child experiences anxiety, perfectionism, or other traits that conjure feelings of self-blame in the face of fear, imperfection, or other perceived flaws.
Trauma, too, can inspire self-hatred. It can feel safer to attack oneself over what happened than to accept that bad things happen randomly in the world—and can happen again, at any time. As a result, many people who have endured sexual assault, combat, or other trauma blame themselves for what they endured, and self-hatred grows.
Self-hatred and shame are related but not synonymous. Shame can be healthy, the mind’s tool for helping people understand when they have done something that must not be repeated. However, the majority of shame that people experience is not a healthy tool for learning right from wrong. Instead, it is a manifestation of self-hatred, a message that when they do things wrong (or, at least, differently than they wish they had) then they are wrong, a judgment of the person and not the act.
Many people who feel shame cannot assign it to any particular action. Shame is a feeling of essential badness that they simply cannot shed. Often, people experiencing unhealthy shame feel that if others saw their real self, then nobody could possibly love them.
It is helpful to understand how your own self-hatred formed. This can help you to develop compassion for yourself. No matter what you did or did not do as a child, no matter what trauma you endured, the hurt part of you deserves love, compassion, and nurturing. No matter what, you possess a fundamental goodness that is not touched by external events, in the same way the clouds can cover the sun but never really touch it.
The Antidote: Self-Compassion
A seminal work on self-hatred and self-compassion is titled, appropriately enough, Compassion and Self Hate (by Theodore Isaac Rubin). More recently, mental health professionals have published quite a few more books on self-compassion, including The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion (by Christopher Germer), Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind (by Kristin Neff), and The Power of Self-Compassion (by Mary Wellford).
There are websites devoted to self-compassion. There also is an evidence-based psychotherapy that cultivates self-compassion. Called compassion-focused therapy, it extends cognitive behavioral concepts to foster in clients the ability to soothe, accept, and understand oneself.
The common theme underlying all these works is that self-compassion is the antidote to self-hate. So how do you create more compassion for yourself? Over time, I will write about many different ways to grow the seeds of self-compassion. For now, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Talk to yourself the way you talk to someone you care about: In Compassion and Self Hate, Dr. Rubin advises readers to tell themselves, “I treat myself as I treat a child I love.” Cognitive behavioral therapists employ a similar technique, often invoking the question, “What would you say to a good friend who was going through the same thing you are going through?” These are important questions. If you hate yourself, you likely say things to yourself that you would not dare say to another person. What would you say to somebody else who has the exact same traits as you? What could you say to yourself?
- Recognize that beliefs do not equal truths: Often, people believe what they tell themselves. If you think you are a loser, you may believe it is absolute truth. Try this cognitive behavioral technique called “the three C’s”: catch, check, change. Catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself. Check whether your distressing thought is true. Change it, if not. You can talk back to your negative thoughts. Challenge them. Serve as a defense attorney to the prosecutor in your head.
- Embrace the concept of “good enough”: Many people feel they should be perfect—never angry, always generous, never critical, always right, and so on. These expectations deny that imperfection is the human condition. If you are one of these people with too-high expectations for yourself, ask yourself what is good enough?
- Consider turning to spirituality or religion: Many spiritual or religious traditions center on the belief that people are flawed but inherently good, not only lovable but also inherently loved. These beliefs can serve as a huge balm for the hurting soul. The practices of meditation and mindfulness, too, can foster feelings of self-compassion as well as loving kindness toward others.
- If you hate yourself for mistakes you made, make amends: You may be reading this and thinking, “This does not apply to me. I did something so awful that I can never be forgiven.” First, as much as you condemn yourself, ask if you would equally condemn—to their face—someone else who did the same thing. If not, then you are being unfair to yourself. Perhaps you really did do something awful. If you cannot make amends to the person or people you harmed, do something good for somebody else. Beating up on yourself serves nobody. Doing good for others or taking part in a larger movement not only helps others, it helps you—and it can lead to self-forgiveness.
My Questions for You
Do you ever hate yourself? If so, what helps you to deal with this brutal judge who lives inside your head? What tips do you have for others in the same situation?
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, therapist in Denver, Colorado
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
carrieNovember 12th, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Oh this is so hard to turn that hatred into love but SOOO worth it when it comes to actually living a life worth living.
I spent far too much time loathing myself and what I had become but never realizing until fairly recently just how much of that I let others tell me about myself and not recognizing the good things that I had to offer to other people and to myself! I wish that I had learned all of this a little sooner, but once you finally cut the bad seeds from your life you learn fairly quickly that you are SOOO much better than what they have always told you that you were.
KellenNovember 13th, 2013 at 4:35 AM
Agree with Carrie- such a work in progress, almost like a job, but makes you feel so much better about everything when you learn to free yourself from all of that loathing.
EllieNovember 14th, 2013 at 4:41 AM
And one thing that I would like to add is that for some of us, who have been teased or taunted by others, you might think that you feel one way until you hear that one little trigger and then boom! you are back to being very down on yourself again. I would like to think that I have overcome a lot of that that I heard while growing up, but this time of year especially, when I know that there are people I will have to be around who made me feel so belittled and diminished I start doing the work for them. I get down on myself so I guess they don’t have to and become all over again when I always felt like they thought about me. I hate that feeling and would love to rid myself of that kind of toxicity in life, but it is so hard when this is family and you don’t know exactly why you should have to cut ties with them or even if you really want to.
Poet and I know itJune 22nd, 2015 at 6:39 PM
Have nothing new to say because you have said it well already. But I know what that is like
Poet and I know itJune 22nd, 2015 at 6:41 PM
Have nothing new to say because you have said it well already. But I know what that is like, especially when it’s family. I don’t know either what to do.
Joan Kloth-ZanardNovember 14th, 2013 at 5:29 AM
Excellent article. This will be of great help to the hundreds of psychologically abused victims I work with and their children. Thank you!!
DonnaNovember 14th, 2013 at 8:57 AM
With the prevalence of Parental Alienation, this is a very important message to get to the kids who are the biggest victims. Thank you for writing this. I will be posting on the high school Facebook page.
LauraDecember 12th, 2013 at 9:28 AM
Thanks for the excellent summary.
You say that shame can be healthy. Some people, notably Brene Brown, make a distinction between guilt and shame, with guilt referring to phenomenon you described in that sentence (knowing you’ve *done* something wrong, and perhaps striving to improve), and shame referring to, well, the shame you described in the rest of the article.
You might find that terminology helpful in maintaining the distinction between the two. They are, as you noted, quite different! Give it a try, and see whether it works for you.
Good summary here: becomingwhoyouare.net/2012/06/shame-vs-guilt/
I would also recommend the book mentioned in that post!
DeannaApril 28th, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Though I would love to, and welcome the day. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.
What scares me? I have always been able to see the light even during a negative challenge. And in 50 years, I have had plenty,
I don’t allow myself to “talk about it” no matter what I have been through, I don’t want it to sound like a “excuse”. And, that’s what it sounds like to me.
There is no excuse for bad behavior, so, …..
Don’t get me wrong, I have tried and tried to “get out of it” and have been successful at it throughout my lifetime. Now, it’s different. Unexplaineable really. Dark, Deep, IDK.
LoserMay 15th, 2014 at 5:39 PM
I really wish I could like myself. I don’t think its possible. I am very useless, lack confidence. I have hated myself since I was a little boy. Everyone I know is perfect and I’m garbage. I’m currently unemployed. I constantly relive the mistakes of my life. I have so much compassion for others. I can read and go to therapy forever it won’t work
CatharineOctober 15th, 2014 at 7:55 AM
I hear ya.
work in progressMay 24th, 2014 at 2:52 AM
I would like to reply to the last person to let you know that I was convinced I was bad, useless, not worth love or attention or to be alive and felt sure that I couldnt change or be healed. So I plodded along, continued to read self help books, articles, worked on my connection with my higher power and one day recently I felt I could challege the belief that I was worthless. Some days are better than others. I think I will always be a work in progress. I just wanted to say dont give up..as you are changing even by reading this site. I believe in you. If I can push through, and I have alot of baggage I know you can too. Thanks for the opportunity to share this hear and for the information that was important for me to hear right now.
My Name Is StressOctober 9th, 2014 at 4:09 PM
I’m just a teenager. My name… Is Stress. The cold, hard fact is that if I’m not perfect, I won’t get into the best college. Some times it feels like everyone else is getting in my way, and sometimes I just know that no matter how much I love other people, none of them love me the same. At first, maybe I was too compassionate. But after a while, when no one returned love, something changed for the worse. Suddenly the school work wasn’t even my biggest issue. I was still stressed over it, but now,I was hating people. Who? Well… Everyone. Fir me, life has always been sticking to one decision and not letting go. Logically, I should be able to just, decide, to not hate myself anymore. But for some reason I just can’t. And my family… They’ll be the last ones to know. My friends are never serious.
Some days I’m rude, antisocial, and just try to do my work. On days like these I hate everyone. Other days I feel live again, and that results in guilt and the ever repeating question of “why don’t they give it back?!” Most days now, it’s just hate. More so for myself than for anyone else.
I may be smart enough to get good grades, and to not cut myself, but in the end I’m not smart enough to get the BEST grades, or to change the way I feel about myself and others. And not being perfect… it’s like perfection is being dangled in front of my face, but I can’t reach it! I’m smart, but I can’t even manage to care for myself! I fail where others succeed. In the end, the only thing I can come down to is that in the endless battle of stress, and trying to be a nice person, but hating myself and knowing that if I accept “good enough” I’ll never be great… It just makes me feel all the more hopeless. And in the end all I can do is love others and hate myself. That way, at least I won’t blame them for not loving me right. The only person I can blame is me for not being even “good enough.” Not for them, not for anyone, and least if all for myself.
I don’t have a single clue of what to do with all that.
Laura FrizelleOctober 16th, 2014 at 3:31 AM
Good enough is just fine. You don’t have to be the best or go to the best college. Just do YOUR best. The world needs all of us to develop and share the unique gifts and talents that that we have been given…some will be on a large scale most of us will serve on a small scale. Love and healing are what this world needs most. I am a Christian and I find that I need God’s love so that I can become a more loving person and heal. You are young and have time to search and wrestle and struggle like I did. You can do it!!! Search til you find what your heart needs. Life is worth it!
LaurenOctober 12th, 2014 at 8:52 PM
I have been there and it is very difficult as your self-esteem and confidence builts up during your childhood.My life was miserable as well.We live once and die at the end if we do not take good care of ourselves,nobody will.Jesus loves you just the way you are and I regained my confidence back after getting out of my comfortzone and prayed and sang and danced.Lower expectation from people and focus on your life.You will meet people who appreciates you but you have to make the setp first not being shaken by your feelings as feelings change and take good care of yourself love the way you are.We all are precious in God’s eyes.
CatharineOctober 15th, 2014 at 7:53 AM
I go through periods when I want to change my self-hatred. I was all excited when I bought Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg, and enjoyed it @ first. But it infuriates me that I should have to read it or anything else that would help me ” love myself.” It’s ridiculous that I should have to learn to love myself. I’ve tried for so long, and my therapist is good, but it’s embarrassing that I still need to do this. I don’t want to talk to my inner child, or speak to myself lovingly like I’m a child. That’s bizarre & I feel foolish. So it makes me hate myself more that I even have to do it. Like I’m some loser that can’t even take care of myself.
FranOctober 15th, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Wow I feel the same!
Pat A.October 15th, 2014 at 1:43 PM
I found this very interesting. I must admit I see another aspect. As a Christian I know each of us is called for God’s purpose. I know we will experience strong opposition which is fully intended to prevent us from fulfilling the calling on our lives. It very frequently comes from the ones closest to us who are unbelievably cutting and cruel at moments when we most need their support. If we focus on doing what God has called us to do, despite all opposition, we will weather the storms and become victorious.
CarolineOctober 22nd, 2014 at 10:19 PM
Remember, beliefs aren’t always true. But by all means you just keep “knowing” what “God” has planned for everyone, including people who want nothing to do with “him”.
NatashaMay 20th, 2015 at 6:41 PM
Really Caroline? REALLY? You were so absolutely compelled to try to bring her down for her belief in God that you tried to destroy her belief even though she says it helps her battle the issue of self hate. Better she should
forget all that God business and fully loathe herself. Why? Because that will make YOU feel better.
D.October 24th, 2014 at 10:24 AM
I grew up with a strict mom, she fought hard to get where she is against the odds of her familiy background( five girls in rural china, education not very much valued). I played piano when i was 6 and i got slapped on the face if i got one note wrong. i understand she was doing her best and that’s probably the only way she knows how to love me, but until now , whenever i call her about the problems i have in my life, she still opens with the line: i knew that, you always have the problem of being too naive, emotional…i have a very loving and understanding father so it makes things a lot better, however once every couple months, i will feel extremly bad, like i dont deserve to be alive and that i am ugly that nobody should love me at all. i am getting my phd and when i dont get much done, i feel stupid. my friends advice me not to call my mom whetehr i am in such a state and only tell her the good news, maybe they are right. i feel so worthless, lonely and a completely failure that can not bring happiness to people around me…sorry about the negativilties, ever since i noticed i have the problem, i have tried to steer my moods to the other directions by excercising and it helps.
MaryFebruary 10th, 2015 at 5:17 AM
I understand. I was reading this article and your comment stuck out. I have issues that stem from my childhood from my mom being manipulative of me. My dad was the kind and compassionate parent. Unfortunately, he committed suicide 2.5 years ago. I find therapy very helpful with handling my mom. You are valued and loved. It sounds like you have been very successful. Sometimes our parents don’t understand the harm their words and actions have.
KristinNovember 8th, 2014 at 12:46 PM
This is an excellent article, I’ll be sharing it & posting a link to it onto SANE.org’s forum in Australia.
I find great irony in your location. My own self-hatred was very much fanned (tho’ not started) by multiple experiences of childhood sexual abuse. The most painful occurred in Denver General Hospital. Many others happened in Boulder, where I lived for several years as a child. I’m now in my 50s so it has taken decades for me to see and understand this.
The more I’ve understood the source of the self-hatred the more I’ve been able to find self-compassion, and the less I’m inclined to judge others for their struggles. Those of us who survive multiple traumas often lose or misunderstand much of the narrative of our own journey, and only when we have sufficient support are we able to gather the pieces of our life-puzzle and begin to rejoin our fragmented self.
EckieMay 24th, 2016 at 5:08 AM
I loved how you explained this – fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. As difficult and painful as it may be, the fifties are a good age to start to do just that – I am finally in a safe place and the ones who hurt me and made fun of me and tried to put a different spin on the trauma that sent me into a daze of drifting confusion for half of my adult life are not in my life anymore. I still wake up with the dreaded self-loathing at times for all the wrongful things that happened in that drifty daze, and I still tend to blame myself for things that I had little to nothing to do with, but in putting the pieces of the puzzle together, I am learning to be a lot more compassionate towards the little girl/young woman who survived it all.
samNovember 8th, 2014 at 12:49 PM
I think that I’m fine but when I anylise my patterns I know that I deal with extreme self loathing. Many times a day if I do somthing slightly wrong or embarrassing I chant to myself over and over in my head “I hate myself I hate myself I hate myself” since I was little I have felt like I was bad, that even when I do somthing right, I’m just a bad person. That No mater what I do right, I’m just bad. I hate my looks and I hate my own presence in a room and yet I feel happy, I’m confident in life but underneath I feel so self loathing. I avoid places or thoughts that trigger my self hate so that I don’t have to think about it. I just honestly don’t know what to do
ManekNovember 30th, 2014 at 4:22 PM
I’m amazed to hear this sort of thing works for some people. Two years of constant attempts did nothing for this one.
BooDecember 18th, 2014 at 1:51 AM
I’m in such a sad place I don’t know where to start, I listen to everyone else’s problems and feel so alone, I have a husband and kids and a job, yet feel feel worthless ugly fat, I do like a drink yet it always gets me in a mess or trouble, I’m bored I think , hardly go out socialising with friends husband always critical , then says he’s joking , same stuff different day
CocoJanuary 10th, 2015 at 3:23 PM
You need to be good to yourself. I find that when I’m care taking there is usually a pay off for me somewhere it helps me feel worthwhile but then I feel resentful cause others don’t be there for me when I need it. I have same problem with husband I go to a 12 step group and find it really helpful in working ways of not reacting and taking on partners stuff. It can only begin with me. You are a mighty woman don’t ever forget it x
MuhlenradFebruary 11th, 2015 at 12:29 AM
I already do everything under “the antidote” and it doesn’t work. Instead I just feel worse and worse about myself (probably partly because that sort of thing work for everyone else and I am apparently the only person in the world who struggles with it). But thank you for acknowledging that not everyone who struggles with self-loathing was abused as a child! Every single other website reduces it down to “mummy didn’t hug you enough” which is absolutely ludicrious, so it’s nice to see an article which says “uh, actually, a lot of the time, that’s not the case.”
mayFebruary 15th, 2015 at 6:07 PM
I’ve been dealing with dissociation and depression, due to a mental breakdown after some painful events last year. Its hard for me to feel anything now, and I can feel myself becoming an old grumpy lady at the age of 21 and I don’t know how to heal. I used to be so awesome. And now I hate myself. And I don’t feel connected to anyone, and I just don’t see a lot of hope.
NoMarch 8th, 2015 at 12:54 AM
“Recognise…” does nothing for me. I already logically realise that my self-hatred is not logically sound. That doesn’t make me like myself, it just makes me feel bad for hating myself (especially since other people can apparently just logic their way out of self-loathing), which makes me hate myself even more. And I realise that that’s illogical (and that others can just logic their way out of it), which just makes me feel bad, and then—
BeewitchmeJune 6th, 2015 at 2:34 AM
At last I seemed to have found my thought twin. The arguement never ends. I usr the distraction technique, live music, festivals, and art. Take care.
AtoZMarch 18th, 2015 at 6:05 AM
The hardest thing for me about dealing with self-hatred is that it seems cyclical. I’ll go through a period of it, come out (maybe through meditation or something, but it’s a painful period trying to figure out how to feel better), and think that that’s an issue that’s licked. Then after a time it’s back again–I don’t know why and I blame myself for feeling so awful. So it’s the same struggle again and again and again…
ShaniMarch 25th, 2015 at 7:35 AM
I was one of those children with a parent (Mom) that was verbally abusive. At some point I did start to realize that she was wrong for what she was saying, but the damage was done. “Look at you, who would want to be friends with you?” “You’re going to amount to nothing” “Who would want to be around you?” these statements have always been in the back of my mind regardless of how wrong they are and how wrong I know them to be. To this day, at 41 yrs of age, I still have a hard time with female friendships and trust. I was also punished for trying to make my own decisions. If I showed any independance my Mom would mope, sometimes staying in her room for days until I did things the way she wanted. This has also affected my decision making skills which with the help of my Husband have gotten better over time.
I’m not writing this for sympothy or for others to feel bad for me….but to put it out there that some of the suggestions in this article do work. It takes time….but you can start to drown out the negative thoughts with more positive ones. Practice makes perfect!!
ShrutiMay 16th, 2015 at 11:00 PM
I was the first person in my grade to begin puberty, and then I moved away as soon as I had found some good, reliable friends that wouldn’t judge me. I just happened to move to a school where everyone in my class was Caucasian and had a perfect body and no acne. I was the one non-white with a face that had been smattered with acne since the third grade, was slightly more plump than the other students, and had a developed body. My mom has always been obsessed with looking ‘ladylike,’ and apparently that involved wearing leggings and shorts and tank tops. Naturally, I didn’t want to do this.
I resorted to wearing the most modest, dark clothes possible- black sweatpants, long navy shirts. People at school began to ask me, “Shruti, how come we have never seen you in shorts?” and I could only ignore them. My mom tried to make me do things that she said ‘most girls didn’t do until around age 16 but since your body is so mature, we might as well do it now,’ and I didn’t know why she wanted me to do that. I started hiding in my room, avoiding going outside, avoiding society. And it didn’t help at all. I had wanted to be an average kid, but instead I had started my teenage years several years too early.
My friends were no help; with their perfect hair and perfect clothes and perfect bodies, they didn’t understand a thing about this- in fact, they mocked it. They called me fat and useless, and whenever gym class came, I was always hiding in the bathroom, trying to eliminate myself in the best way possible. And when I told the guidance counselor, they said I was ‘pretending to be sad in order to get attention.’ This made me feel horrible, fake; I continued hiding in my room.
gail harrisonJune 6th, 2015 at 1:17 AM
Hi shruti I think 11 to16 years are the hardest. I was a very shy insecure young girl, I believe a lot of people are weather they are boy or girl. My not liking my self continued till I was 26. I do hope youre stronger now and know that you are amazing and wonderfully made and that you are loved. Gail;-)
KellieJune 5th, 2015 at 1:08 PM
Great read. I plan on saving the articles for the future. I really needed this today and I fell so fortunate to have stumbled across this. Reading the comments always helps, too. It puts things in perspective for me and let’s me know I am truly not the only one with these types of struggles. Thank you for just existing.
AnonymousJune 14th, 2015 at 2:48 PM
I’m 38 years old, and sick of never being good enough for anyone. No matter how much I do or how hard I work—I’m called incompetent and useless. Fuck everybody.
joy89June 22nd, 2015 at 6:31 PM
Self hatred is really tough to deal with but when I turn to God and tell him how much I hate myself and my life He puts things in my life to remind me just how much He loves me. He has a plan for me. He has a plan for us. Keep your head up, He’ll help us through!There is always hope!
KittyOctober 26th, 2015 at 11:10 AM
How do we know if God has forgiven us for our past sins?… Are we not told that when we die we will be held accountable for our past sins….?… I feel most of us with shame regret and self hatred, carry these feelings forever, and don’t know how to forgive ourselves because we don’t deserve to be forgiven…. Vicious circle… God gives and God takes away.
ArthurJune 15th, 2015 at 1:17 PM
I have moments when I have real self loathing, and they are HORRIBLE. Truly awful, though I don’t think dangerous, I may say to myself that perhaps I should disappear or end it all, but I don’t mean it. And I think it would be putting an awful burden on my children. Sometimes it comes from being overweight, especially when doctor or gym nurse or so forth has asked me if I need help planning meals or adding calories. Dolts! Do they think I like walking around with a spare tire around the middle?
GoodTherapy AdminJune 15th, 2015 at 3:20 PM
Thank you for your comment, Arthur. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
TjAugust 9th, 2015 at 10:08 PM
I have the same exact thoughts. Some days are really bad, I hate myself for hating myself. It is like I know that I have so many blessings and don’t understand why I feel so negative. Not truly suicidal but get feeling like everybody would be better off if I just disappeared.
FranJuly 3rd, 2015 at 5:12 PM
I think I suffer more from self-blame as a cause for my self-hatred than shame, although that has happened in my life as well in the past. If something goes wrong, I will blame my inaction or procrastination and sometimes my lack of common sense for being so stupid; and at the same time, my procrastination grows, and so does my self-hate. I find it easier to love other people instead of myself, and would never consider doing harm to them, nor to myself, for that matter. I just don’t like me.
KittenJuly 23rd, 2015 at 7:58 PM
MICHAEL I LOVE YOU <33333333333!!!!!!!
eulaAugust 2nd, 2015 at 1:11 AM
I suffer from self hatred..and wasting almost 3 years of my life believing i am not good enough..i know i am a positive,achiever,and confident person but that was 3 years ago.the true me is dead. The version of me now is so weak and worthless…often times i said i hate my life and i hate myself..
But behind of this thinking and negative feelings i know deep inside of me..that i dont deserve this..but i dont know how to get out of this..
JayniceAugust 5th, 2015 at 12:56 PM
Imagine a pleasant, open, empty Field dotted with wildflowers, birds and bees.
See the open Sky. Feel the open Air. Explore the Openness.
Now Imagine, a city being built on your field, with roads and towers and lights and as many buildings as can fit – with all the vehicles you can imagine – and the noise and pollution.
Now, Imagine one flower growing up, and out through the tarseal. ,and now the city is slowly crumbling away, disappearing, until all that is left is the empty field once more.
The REAL TRUTH IS The Field.
Thats Our Soul.
It Is the true foundation, Not everything or anything built upon it.
Your Mind built that city out of your thoughts and feelings and piled them on top of your soul, So much over time that all you see is the City and forget that the Field is still there.
Embrace the Responsibility. You can rebuild your city into anything you want now … your mind, your feelings .. THEY are The Power within you.
Free yourself once more xXx
LorraineOctober 8th, 2015 at 9:24 PM
I so love this thought! Thank you for posting. I am going to write this down and tape it to my desk at work so I can read it a few times a day.
AnneAugust 10th, 2015 at 12:58 PM
I’m in the same boat. It’s been 3 yrs and I don’t know what the root of the problem is or how to make the deep resentment/sadness stop. I think of things that could help (exercise, taking a class, etc), but I keep holding myself back. I feel tired, hopeless, and disgusted with myself.
Bob Nemerovski, Psy.D.August 5th, 2015 at 9:40 AM
Well done. Relates to what Control Mastery therapists and others call “pathogenic beliefs.” Little minds by nature make all sorts of false explanations and twisted meaning that lead to some very deep, dark seeds that keep getting watered and nurtured until we learn to treat ourselves better. Nice job.
LeslieAugust 5th, 2015 at 9:35 PM
I’m beginning to realize that a lot of coincidences are really just times that I am finally paying attention to myself and the world around me. I am currently taking an 8-week Mindful Self-Compassion class (created by Kristin Neff) and then see this post. I roll my eyes when I tell anyone the name of the class, because it’s exactly the thing I need and it sounds awkward to acknowledge that to people. And yet…halfway through the class I think I’m starting to really pay attention to what self-compassion might open up in me. I would NEVER talk to a friend the way I talk to myself. It is slow going, but I have to believe it will become integrated into the way I think and talk to myself. Thanks for this post.
ArthurAugust 6th, 2015 at 7:33 PM
I posted earlier about some of my feelings on this topic, but I was very touched when I read Eula’s comment saying the real me is dead. I have sometimes said the same words to my wife “The real me is dead, which is a pity because he was a nice guy, but he could not handle some of the bad things in his life, the man you live with now is just a ghost.” But I have come to recognize that the real me is not completely dead, he is disappointed that he has not actualized all his potential, he has been less happy and less fulfilled than he thinks he deserves and could have been, but he is still hopeful sometimes. But the only real abuse is being told to count my blessings etc. That produces real pain, because my blessings are the reason I feel worthless and trash and a failure.
squeebzAugust 18th, 2015 at 3:24 AM
I have only recently realized that I hate myself. I started to identify the fact I compare myself with almost everyone I see which turned into jealousy which left and just turned into insecurity and has now been identified as self hated. I do expect perfection from myself and when things don’t go as planned or I make a mistake I am extremely hard on myself. It’s not easy for me to forgive or forget myself. When other people point out or bring up the mistakes I already beat myself up for, I beat myself up even more and because I can’t forgive myself I think they can’t either. Maybe that’s not true. I don’t keep friends because I’m selfish and don’t much like people. I have my husband who has helped me through many things but would not understand this. No one would. They all have some love and respect for themselves that I somehow can’t reach. When I was younger I was really skinny but I wore glasses and everyone at school always told me I was ugly. I believed it and still do. Then at sixteen my dad basically made child pornography out of me. My mom never wanted me. I was verbally and physically abused by both she and my step mom when in their custodies. I’ve forgiven them all, though. So why can’t I forgive myself?
MargaretMay 25th, 2016 at 6:41 PM
What a darling you are. You forgive all those who hurt you. But not yourself: all I can suggest is you use that compassion that makes you forgive others and get involved with helping others, maybe voluntary work? That is the way to peace. Serving others is the true way to feeling better; thinking about ourselves, however understandable, makes us miserable. Chinese wisdom says if you want to be happy, learn to serve others. Jesus said “I came not to be served but to serve”. You are a lovely person. You deserve to be happy. There’s only one way: serve others. Thinking and brooding about ourselves leads to sadness and depression. Follow the path to happiness! Love M
MiyaSeptember 5th, 2015 at 5:41 PM
I am obsessed with self hate and each day think about how much I hate myself. I am obsessed with myself, I feel like im not normal and feel extremely inadequate and insecure in comparison to everyone else. I feel like this self hate is destroying me inside, and am jealous of people who love themselves and are confident, i aspire to be them because confidence is key. I always, always, always have negative thoughts and sometimes have to tell my self to shut up it gets that bad. Sometimes i have to tell myself “don’t think that” repeatedly because it gets scary. I am really insecure, anxious and on edge, i feel insecure around people and friends and see my insecurities around people because i will just keep quiet. I blame myself for everything, i have many secrets, i don’t know how to open up, instead i just blame myself.
It feels like an infinite sadness inside of me and i feel so small, it feels like the flat line on a chart, no progress just sadness and self hate. I feel like no one understands me and i don’t confide in people because they don’t ever tell me what i want to hear. I am extremely selfish and only do what i want to do, so inevitably i feel alone and worthless. I am trapped in this bubble of insecurities and need someone to pop my bubble so my personality and existence can explode and shine bright and furthermore do great things. I don’t need advice i need someone to understand and help me love myself because i know that, that is the key to greatness.
GoodTherapy AdminSeptember 5th, 2015 at 9:51 PM
Thank you for your comment, Miya. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
EmeldahOctober 19th, 2015 at 8:44 PM
Well trust it is up to you to make that change.People can tell all you need to hear but if you are not ready for change then you wont change.It starts with you,take the first step n the rest will follow.
KristieSeptember 14th, 2015 at 9:47 PM
I had an affair while I was married, we were married for 16 years and have a daughter together. I was unhappy, lonely and tried to reach out to my husband to get counseling together. He thought it was a waste of money and that I was a nagging wife. I met someone while we were married and he made me feel beautiful, loved, important and actually enjoyed having a conversation with me. We started meeting after I would drop my daughter off at school and while my husband was at work. It went on for months and then I started to realize what I had done and the mistake I had made. I began to hate myself, hate the person that I have become and for what I had done to my husband. I had failed everyone. I failed myself, my husband, our daughter, our families and most importantly I have failed God. So I moved out and filed for divorce (never telling him the real reason why…..yes, I’m also a coward) because he deserved someone better and I deserved to be punished. I deal with self hatred everyday. I made the biggest mistake of my life and I hate myself for it. I have never told anyone about this and I probably never will. I thought about asking God for forgiveness but decided that I deserve the punishment I know I will get. Everyone that ever meets me always tells me I’m one of the nicest people they have ever known and it just makes me want to scream at them ….if they only knew. The worst thing is, it wasn’t my first affair.
GJanuary 16th, 2016 at 6:32 AM
Wait a minute right there …. You said your husband said it was a waste of money to go to counseling??! Well doesn’t seem he valued your marriage. So, it is not odd or a surprise you’d find the connection you craved elsewhere. That is common for women. He didn’t value that connection so why are you feeling guilty. I think this one is an easy one to see you simply sought what you felt was missing. He should have made you feel all those things. You should be enjoying being without him and not feeling guilty.
ShawnSeptember 15th, 2015 at 12:06 AM
I used to hate my self . I always curse my like to be so depressed , I always thought I am not good for anything , I am not enough . Then I started judging myself and started hating myself more . As I thought it was the initial stage , so I started hanging out with my friends and they make me realize that I am good enough as all the people . I use to do things in which I found happiness and feel excited . I will suggest if anyone is feeling depressed the best way to overcome is to talk to some one . Talk to friends , family member or colleagues it helps in calm the person .
GenevaSeptember 29th, 2015 at 12:03 PM
My mom let me know I was the worst thing that ever happened to her . I ruined her life so I distance myself because I don’t want to ruin anyone else ……. And I’m almost 50 years old and I still believe this …….
DDecember 10th, 2015 at 4:58 AM
Geneva, I’m so sorry. I went through the same thing as a child. I’m turning 40 soon and I’m still stuck at times. I feel like I’m not worthy of friendships, bonds or deserve ANYTHING. I want so badly this train of thought to go away.
LouisdebianchiOctober 16th, 2015 at 1:05 AM
Excellent, gave me something to contemplate
AngieOctober 22nd, 2015 at 5:03 PM
Brené Brown’s extensive grounded theory research shows shame is never healthy. This is a good, helpful article, except for that.
emeldahOctober 23rd, 2015 at 8:28 AM
My name is emeldah I am 19 years old.I need your advice please.I have a very low self esteem,I cannot stand up for myself.I feel really damaged inside most of the scares are due to the fact that I was bullied n I did not do anything to protect myselfi want to learn to stand up for myself but don’t know where to start please help.
KittyOctober 26th, 2015 at 4:00 AM
I feel that if you have done something wrong in your past like abortions, no amount of self help books, will make the feeling of self hate and guilt, go away.. You just can’t undo that bad decision…. I will carry this guilt with me to my grave and hope God forgives me.
KatarinaNovember 18th, 2015 at 12:44 AM
Hi, I just wanted to share what I did, after having beaten myself up for a long time, because of an abortion. One night I delibrately contacted the soul of that unwanted child, and explained why I didn’t feel able to give birth to it, and there were many reasons. But the healing came in this, beeing very honest on why, and asking for its forgiveness and sending deepfelt wishes for it, to be able to incarnate with a mother who had the resources and ability. It gave me peace, maybe there is something in this, that you can use for your own healing.
And this is good, Gangaji about selfhatred: youtube.com/watch?v=WpwfIE1ilio
AndreaOctober 26th, 2015 at 9:14 AM
To the nice commenter who hates herself for an affair and the one who cannot forgive an abortion. I look at it differently, i have done some things which were wrong, and i have not corrected all of them. But i cannot go on beating myself up i have to live. I went through a phase where i stuffed my face from self hate. In another stage i had a partner whom i begged to paddle my butt, because i felt i deserved punishment. But i look at the rest ofmy life, and i have done a lot of good too. And when i focus on that, i go on with more purpose
KittyOctober 27th, 2015 at 1:34 PM
Thank you for taking time to reply to me, gosh life is so complicated, for the past two years I have been doing my best to help the animal shelters, I save money and also buy beds, blankets and food for them, this is never enough but it’s the only way that I feel some self worth… I only wish I could do more for them, .. I stopped eating meat and each mont I subscribe to a charity in Thailand called the Soi foundation…. It’s the only release I get from my guilt, … I somehow feel that animals have something in common with me, the world is a cruel place…and I have seen a lot of cruelty when I was a child …… I have however since reading your reply, put a few positive things about me together so maybe I can build on that.many thanks
Kindest regards. K
It hurtsNovember 27th, 2015 at 10:58 PM
I hope that some of you can find some benefit here. I have recently decided that it is no longer worth it. I am the biggest disapointment to not only those around me but myself. As has been pointed out to me ad nauseum I am a selfish, self centered, selfish baby. I am never happy amd I eagerly look forward to the day I am finally dead. It makes sense that practising self compassion would help. On the other hand I am not worth it and any relief I may feel ( assuming all of my inherent worthlessness does not kill it first) will merely give way to yet another bout of unadulrered self loathing. Good god how I hate me! Good luck to you all
The GoodTherapy.org TeamNovember 28th, 2015 at 10:26 AM
Thank you for your comment, It hurts. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
LaToyaDecember 12th, 2015 at 3:44 AM
My life wasn’t bad but bad things happened. Molested, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. My dad loved me but I could never ask him about life. He was strict on me. Didn’t want me to date, made my decision for me, and got super mad if I asked about sex. I developed at the age of 8. It wasn’t easy in elementary, middle, or high school. I got bullied bad in elementary school. Middle school was hard to cope with cause I was way more developed than other girls. High school got better but still I felt alone. My mom wasn’t around a lot, she’s a drug addict. I’m not fund of her but I love her. She has verbally abused me before, that’s why I don’t go around her much. I was forced to do things that I wasn’t ready to do yet like college. I hate myself for not standing up for what I knew was right. I know I’m beautiful, smart, and talented. My boyfriend doesn’t make it any better cause he have a bad choice of words for when he trying to bring my spirit up. I’m 26 no kids and I feel like crap sometimes. He tells me I shouldn’t even be feeling the way I should be feeling cause I had a good life.
MarsJanuary 16th, 2016 at 2:22 PM
It is a shame how some people know all the right answers but don’t know how to express them properly. It is a seriously bad thing to tell someone that they shouldn’t feel is way. I don’t understand where my self loathing comes from or when did it start and even though I know that I don’t have to be perfect it still hurts when my friends point out my flaws or just mess with me. And I don’t even know why it hurts like this let alone if they are true. Don’t worry about your self loathe and the fact that you don’t understand where it cones from. To me it makes sense that you would be self loathing given the things you’ve said. Especially the boyfriend part.
horses_waterDecember 12th, 2015 at 2:14 PM
I understand- because I live the daily hell of self hate. never suicidal- but see why people are and do. All the -try religion, join a gym, get therapy, turn that frown upside down… good stuff right there- from the brains of self lovers.
freeDecember 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Self hate is most dangerous disease human can have. Kinda uncurable than cancer. But instead of thinking forever. just live a day. Life is precious and heavenly. i know you may say you do not fit into normal life. But you are here for what ever the purpose. Forget and Live. Working is best cure for self hate. So brain do not have free time.
JamieDecember 13th, 2015 at 11:24 PM
Thats a very nice thing to say.
But I cannot forget. All day everyday I am ambushed by reminders and triggers to my past. Also current situation is hopeless in many ways. I am literally not able to change anything. That leads to hopelessness. Then selfloathing. Problem is i know all the answers and all the ways to stop. But being bipolar and off of my meds (100lb wt gain had to go off or die)and I cannot control my thoughts. Daily struggle to live.
But I am gtateful for your kind thoughts on this matter.
MarsJanuary 16th, 2016 at 2:29 PM
I am self loathing to an extent where I fear it might get worse. I don’t want to tell my friends or family as so far they haven’t done much. I feel helpless. What should I do?
GoodTherapy AdminJanuary 16th, 2016 at 8:21 PM
If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, http://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.
Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.
The GoodTherapy.org Team
GailJanuary 24th, 2016 at 4:07 PM
I live in fear that someone will find out I did something awful and I don’t know if that’s true or not cuz I’ve had a few strokes and remember very little. My sister accused me of stealing stuff when my mom died and tho I have no recollection,
some of the things did turn up – they were hiding in plain sight
from both of us, and some things are just gone. I can’t remember anything about them and maybe she’s right.
Maybe I took something and don’t remember. She no longer speaks to me and I have to accept that she believes I did wrong knowingly. Even with strokes, wouldn’t
I have remembered that. And then I add in all the lies I’ve told and the memory of things I did do that were dishonest when I
Was little, and I’m all tangled up again.
RangerPinkJanuary 29th, 2016 at 8:34 AM
I hope we all can love our selves.
Thank you for the article
BrendaFebruary 13th, 2016 at 6:08 AM
I am 65yrs old. After all these years feelings of unworthiness has emerged. I had these feelings all through school but I thought they were gone. I don’t know when it started but I feel so inadequate to everyone and that I can’t do anything right. I feel I am not liked. My oldest daughter has separated herself from me, my youngest gets mad at me every time I visit her for a couple of days. My elderly mother told me she has always liked boys better than girls. I have two brothers. I know she gets more excited when she sees them. I have no friends that call me and when someone does call to ask me for lunch or anything I feel that they feel sorry for me. I actually thanked a woman in Sunday school for letting me sit by her in class. I cried all through class once for having to give my name. My problem now is that I can’t talk to people. I lose my breath and my chest tightens. I sound really nervous. I can finally order coffee at the drive through at Starbucks without sounding as if I’m scared to death. It’s rediculous! I keep trying to figure out what caused this.
JackFebruary 15th, 2016 at 2:34 PM
This is for Arthur-I agree, hearing “count your blessings” when feeling ashamed and depressed is the last thing we want to hear. What does help is just to tell ourselves, “you’re allright. When you consider the childhood’s many of us had, it is a wonder we are here, and we are “allright”. You are allright, Arthur.
AdamFebruary 26th, 2016 at 10:35 AM
I was a sad little lad, I was rejected and hurt by many. I had a lot going for me but I was unaware of it. I turned to addictions and many vices of destruction to blurr the contempt I had for the man in the mirror. I loved my neighbors more than myself, as if I even knew what love was. Then one day I smeared windex on the mirror set before, polished it, and said “I love you”
susan vzMarch 16th, 2016 at 2:55 AM
Thank you for this very helpful article. I think selfdoubt is simply a general human condition; everybody experiences it sometimes. It becomes a problem though, when it turns into selfhatred, and does not get dealt with. One thing we should all stop doing: comparing ourselves and our lives to those of other people and begin pitying outselves for our miserable lives. There is always something ( usually a lot! ) to be grateful for and I find , among those mentioned in the article, genuine gratitude for small things a good antidote.
manApril 5th, 2016 at 7:32 AM
you guys are lucky, your all mostly women, self hate for you is a problem but you get support from boyfriends and husbands. My self hate has the added bonus I cant get a girlfriend, great hey, when you got model good looks, your super smart and a semi pro artist and you still alone forever at 36 its a pretty miserable place, and its all my fault, god the pain is rediculoius ! added self hate is no fun, being alone forever is just the final straw really ! no support no affection no love no family, the life of a self loathing man is the very worst !
Sean B.April 10th, 2016 at 8:51 AM
Hi, Sean here. I can relate to what’s been said here. I truly, utterly hate myself. The firs bully in my life was my father. He told me I was worthless, stupid. He always verbally abused me, but to other people he always ended up smelling like a rose. Fasr forward toI high school, nobody wanted to be friends with me. I never had a girlfriend, never went to the prom, and none of my peers clapped for me on graduation day. In 1994, I started my first job. I thought now people would respect me. WRONG! It was even worse. More bullying. They called me every name in the book, and it was even encouraged by my bosses. I have a learning disability and people never let me forget it. Nowadays, I am going to school and working again, yet still no one wants anything to do with me and I feel intense loneliness. I think of suicide many times, but I am too much of a coward to do it. I know the Bible says he doesn’t make things imperfect and that we are in his image. I think something went wrong with me. Everyone else seems more blessed than me. What comes easily for others is a struggle for me. I have tried therapy, psych drugs, bible reading, talking with friends. Nothing seems to cure this self loathing I have. Everywhere I go I’m a laughingstock. People in the community talk about me and there is nothing I can do about it. I thought going back to school and work would improve my self esteem. It has not. It actually makes me envious of the others around me. I wish I had the grades, the adulation, and the abilities they have. But I won’t, and I never will. I feel I have nothing to offer the world that I just take up space.
GoodTherapy AdminApril 10th, 2016 at 12:55 PM
Thank you for your comment, Sean. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about self harm at http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-self-harm.html and additional information about what to do in a crisis at http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html
The GoodTherapy.org Team
BettyMay 5th, 2016 at 4:47 PM
I grew up in foster care. 30+ homes. The biological mother hated me upon conception. In the homes I was sexually, physically and mentally abused. I realize I suffered at the hands of this world. I am now 55 and several years ago was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. I have never had a family, no husband, no children. No matter how hard I try I feel this world, well my life is nothing more than a joke! I have realized I hate every aspect of my being and no matter how much therapy or searching I do not seem to be able to believe that I was born to be punished. I HATE EVERY ASPECT OF ME AND MY EXISTENCE!! When I try self-compassion, I feel so overwhelmed to destroy myself. The feelings are what I can’t seem to get in the right place to get beyond. I am highly intelligent and have read so many blogs and books and they all say the same stuff. Learn to love yourself. Learn self-compassion! Only you are responsible for loving yourself. Telling me to go love myself, well that is like telling me to go “F” myself. I don’t know what else to try. HELP!!
Geoffrey D.May 9th, 2016 at 5:44 AM
I come forth to anyone that has the answer. Hate, not just self-hate has been with me for years alone with several other darker emotions, but the one that stands out from this fog of fealings in my mind is the hatred of everything. Even the ones I love are not spared from this hate and the tend to be the ones who are in the path of some of my outburst. Though lately I have been holding everything in because of my lack of trust in anyone. Starting with the kids at my school who tend to be my sorce of hatred; two of them have died recently in car accidents one being a close friend of mine and the othere I could care less about. Seeing them die in this maner thought didnt make me sad at first but angry that it had to be him because I could have easily traded someone else, but it also made me slightly jelouse because they now know what is truly out there. Now it feels like the hate has just concentrated on my heart with the refusal of letting it out. Now it has condensed into a ball almost post a minature star inside of me that has aged rapidly do to the stress it now feels it is on its last legs, and even I know what hapens when a star dies. Thats why I came here in hopes of stoping myself from actually useing the hate inside of me.
May 9th, 2016 at
Thanks for sharing your comment. A therapist may be helpful for understanding and processing the feelings you described in a safe space free of judgement. If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, http://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.
Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 FREE ext. 1.
Wishing you relief,
The GoodTherapy.org Team
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