Self-loathing, as the name implies, is a mental state where you hate yourself. Also known as self-hatred, there are several theories as to why some people fall victim to this insidious thought process. Perhaps, it’s a factor of societal pressures to meet unrealistic expectations. Perhaps, it develops when family members and others tell us we’re not good enough enough. Perhaps our self-loathing thoughts started as motivational tools or ways to protect ourselves from disappointment, but simply got out of hand.
One thing is certain – this low self-esteem is NOT something we’re born with. Let’s take a look at some ways we may be able to correct these negative thought patterns.
- Talk to a Mental Health Professional – Sometimes you just need a professional to help you redevelop thought responses that have been ingrained for years. Mental health professionals can help you not only change these negative thought patterns, but also pinpoint issues that may have led to their development in the first place, allowing you to resolve these issues, so they no longer have power over you.
- Live in the Present – Self-loathing thought patterns often focus on things you wish you had done differently in the past or worries you have about the future.
- Question these Negative Thoughts – I know it’s not that simple, especially if your self-loathing is combined with body dysmorphic disorder, but when you catch yourself having negative self thoughts, really question them. Whatever your thinking, it’s not accurate. Realize that just because you believe it, it doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Name Your Positive Qualities – When you catch yourself in the self-loathing trap, name the qualities you do like about yourself. Even the small things – you like the color of your eyes, you like the fact that your a kind person, you like your handwriting – focus on those positive aspects. Although it may seem like the skit from SNL, really looking in the mirror and listing these qualities off to yourself can help make a small change in your mindset and how you feel about yourself. When done enough, these small shifts can add up.
- Don’t be So Sorry – Constantly apologizing for every little thing that goes wrong during the day can reinforce that you’re at fault for way more than you really are. Only apologize when you’ve truly done something wrong. You’re not responsible for making others happy. And, you’re definitely not responsible for how others act.
- It’s OK to be Good Enough – No one has to be perfect. In fact, no one IS perfect. Don’t demand perfection from yourself. And, when you fail at something, forgive yourself. EVERYONE fails. In fact, you can’t have learning and growth without every experiencing failure.
Please know, you’re not alone, if you experience self-loathing. And, with help, you can overcome these negative thoughts and be happy.
Most importantly, if your self-loathing is so intense you feel like harming yourself, please, please talk to someone!