I Sometimes I feel like I hate myself
I feel like I hate myself physically and emotionally sometimes. How can I start accepting myself and be more confident?
Aside from seeing a therapist to help you work through the feelings and events that might have resulted in the self-hatred, I recommend a few things:
1.) Draw a line down the page in a journal to make two columns. In the first column, write down your negative thoughts. On the other side in the second column, write down a different statement to challenge that thought. Pretend you are a judge trying to prove the negative thought wrong. For example, you might change "I wasn't good enough" to "it wasn't about me" or "I'm actually really good at x, y, and z."
2.) Write down a new positive self statement each day and focus on each one on your list for 2-3 minutes (more if you can- the more the better). Meditate on the truth of each of these statements. This method has been proven to be effective in improving self esteem.
3.) Practice non-judgmental awareness. Be curious about your experience. Notice your emotions and where they are coming from. My guess would be that if you're hating yourself then there is probably some shame, guilt, sadness, and/or anger that needs to be addressed. These emotions might fit the facts or not. If they do, here are some things you can do (if not, then practice the methods above):
- Shame: Fits the facts if a person or group of people you care about will reject you if they knew the truth. Try talking to someone who will not reject you about what you're ashamed of. Be VERY careful to pick someone who will validate you and not cause more shame (a therapist will help with this).
- Guilt: Fits the facts when you've done something that violates your own values or moral code. Try making amends if you've hurt someone. Practice self-validation (or talking with someone who will validate you) and forgiving yourself. Use it as motivation to making a commitment to change your behavior if necessary.
- Sadness: Fits the facts when you lost or will be losing someone or something you care about. Practice letting yourself feel sad and grieve. Maybe process it with someone who supports you or through a creative outlet like art or writing.
- Anger: Fits the facts when someone or something has threatened you or a loved one's life or well-being. Anger motivates us to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Practice setting boundaries and seeking justice if necessary.
4.) Practice self compassion. Imagine someone you care about is going through the same thing. What encouraging or loving words would you say to them? Write that down. Now read it back to yourself.
5.) Building mastery is a great skill for confidence and improving your mood. That means doing things that give you a sense of confidence like learning or practicing a new skill.
6.) Step out of your comfort zone and do things that you're afraid of that are not harmful, like participating in Toastmasters to practice public speaking. Give yourself permission to suck and try not to judge yourself.
These things can be very helpful, but there may be more work to do to really get to the root of the problem and heal. This is pain trying to get your attention. Don't ignore it. Find support and give yourself grace.
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One of the ways that can help you practice acceptance of self is by using self-compassion. Researcher, Kristin Neff recommends that taking a daily self-compassion break can be beneficial in that it can transform harboring feelings of isolation such as those hating yourself , to an experience of connection. A self-compassion break consists of placing your hand over your heart and acknowledging that you are having a difficult time believing in yourself but that you recognize you are not alone as suffering is ubiquitous so you are connecting with the rest of humanity. You can then say encouraging words to yourself either silently or out loud such as "May I be led every day to recognize my strengths and to love myself" or "May I find peace within myself and strengthen my self-belief." Apart from self-compassion, I would encourage you to keep a self-esteem journal in order to engage in expressive writing and write about your strengths so that you can start to build self-acceptance.
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Sometimes we can be our own toughest critic. Acceptance starts first with acknowledging the things that you currently do well, positive qualities, etc. Spend time with those in your life who are supportive of you. Ask them to also contribute to your list of positive qualities. Acknowledge those qualities as often as you can. Next start small with the things you’d like to see differently. Identify a small step you can start that will contribute in shifting how you view your physical and emotional self. Ex.) Identify a hobby that brings you joy.
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Self-doubt and self-hatred are such common and unpleasant experiences and really worth understanding! Therapy with the right person can really help. When in your life do you feel the most confident? What gets in the way of you accepting and loving yourself (big question!). You can and will uncover that confident self!
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Self love and self acceptance is something that many of my clients struggle with, so I can assure you that you are not alone. We are bombarded by media and advertisements everyday that try to sell us things to make us somehow better, thus leading us to believe that we are not enough. Unfortunately, I believe that low self esteem is a social epidemic.
On a more personal level, do you have any sense of what types of messages you have received in your life that have led to these self defeating thoughts? For example, did a parent or another loved one criticize you or put you down often? Were you bulled in school? Has a romantic partner emotionally abused you? Usually, there are factors such as these which insidiously lead to low self esteem and self loathing. Once you can identify some of the factors that lead to your self hatred, you can make a decision to not let these things from your past have such power over you any more. You learn to take control of how you feel about yourself, rather than letting others dictate that for you.
I do think it is possible to heal from self hatred. It doesn't happen over night, and it takes time and effort. It is about re-training your brain to focus on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses. None of us are ever going to be perfect, and if we look for a flaw we are bound to find one (or two, or three...). Try keeping a self esteem journal. Every night, write down three things that you were proud of that day about yourself. Try reciting positive affirmations every day (such as "I am lovable and beautiful just the way that I am today"), to re-program your mind into thinking highly of yourself, rather than poorly.
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The most important word here is "sometimes." I know it is quite painful, and I can imagine that at times this pain doesn't feel like it will subside. But it sounds like it is not all the time, which means we can easily say that this "hate myself" experience is one part of you. There are many other parts, if you give them some space to also "speak up," that will offer you more positive regard, trust me on that. Generally speaking, we just don't know how to listen to those parts, because...
...it is the "I hate myself" part that is our inner critic. And often, our inner critic has developed a lot of strength throughout our life because of how we've depended on it for certain things. Sounds crazy, but in actuality, some of the most "successful" people, in work mainly, are those that have strong inner critics. They use these critics to motivate themselves, but with people, and in relationships, and in our relationship with ourselves, it completely backfires, because relationships are far more dynamic processes than "doing well at work."
So, try to acknowledge that the inner critic is one part of you, that you've learned to give a lot of space to. But, if you sit with even a remotely positive feeling you have, it can also be given the space to speak up and grow, just like the critic has over time.
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The answer would require a more in-depth knowledge of you and your situation.
A lot of times, these feelings are the result of the people in your life treating you a certain way. You internalize it and accept it as your reality.
The first step is to evaluate the people close to you, especially your parents. Even if you are an adult, think back to your childhood. Children who grow up in an unstable home often grow up to be adults with insecurities and emotional problems. The obvious, such as being abused, can certainly lead to a person having little to no confidence and self esteem, but there are other situations that might surprise you to hear they can be damaging to a person.
You may have never been physically or sexually abused, but what about emotionally? Were you yelled at, berated, put down? Were you told you'd never amount to anything? Were you compared to siblings and felt like you always fell short, couldn't live up to expectations? When you hear something over and over again, you start to believe it.
Maybe you weren't yelled at. Maybe it was the opposite. Studies show that children who grow up with a parent who is depressed show signs of emotional neglect. A chronically depressed mother, for example, may have seemed cold, detached, emotionless. She may have been less likely to show interest in a child's life, not give praise for accomplishments or show support by going to ballgames or performances.
If one of your family members were chronically ill while you were growing up, chances are, a lot of the attention went to them, which could have led to your needs not being met.
Any of these situations could cause a person to grow up feeling unimportant, unheard, unloved, or like they don't matter.
Maybe nothing I've described here fits your situation. If you can't pinpoint what has caused you to feel this way on your own, a counselor can help.
I am not saying "blame it on your parents" or telling you there's nothing you can do to change it! Quite the opposite! Understanding WHY you feel that way is a first step towards making the changes needed to feel better. Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on cognition - figure out the WHY. Then behavior - the HOW.
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This happens slowly and can be done.
You already are at the first step of realizing that you hate yourself, not that the feelings of self-loathing are the best of what you're able to expect from life.
A way to start building confidence is to pay close attention to the way you handle interactions and make decisions.
If you start to notice what you'd like from an interaction, and afterwards, reflect on how well you handled yourself, especially with any unexpected circumstances, you'll build confidence in your ability to be good at something.
Do you know why you hate yourself?
This answer may help you address within yourself , a new type self talk which has more positives in it than what you've been accustomed to telling yourself.
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