Even if we don’t admit it to others, many of us think negative, or ‘self loathing’ thoughts about ourselves multiple times a day. It’s practically become normal in the society we live in, where standards of beauty, perfection, etc. seem to be higher than ever, and no one can live up to the expectations provided to us. Whether your self-hatred comes from your appearance, your job, your education, your personality, or any individual part of yourself, it is an unhealthy practice that far too many of us partake in.
Stopping it all together can seem easier said than done, because we tend to use these thoughts of hatred toward ourselves as a coping mechanism, or a way to motivate ourselves to ‘get better.’ However, again, those expectations the world holds on us are impossible to achieve, and so the loathing continues, because we’re never able to reach our ultimate goals. Therefore, we can start to think that these negative thoughts about ourselves are ‘normal,’ and that’s when they become dangerous.
Maybe you compare yourself to other people, or are envious of them. Maybe you tend to focus on what you do wrong, instead of what you do correctly, or perhaps you set your goals low so you won’t fail. These are all common signs that go along with self loathing, and each one is unhealthy.
How To Combat Against Self Loathing
Again, there is no ‘quick fix’ for self loathing, especially since we’ve been somewhat ‘trained’ to do it for awhile. However, there are a few techniques you can use to fight against it, and start to see yourself in a better light.
Find a hobby and set a goal – We tend to set goals for ourselves that are not only unattainable, but way too big to even comprehend. Instead of focusing on the larger life goals, find a hobby you enjoy, and set a personal goal there. This could be something like running a 5k race, or knitting a pair of gloves. Whatever relaxes you or makes you happy! Achieving a small goal doing something you enjoy can bring so much pride and happiness to your sense of self.
Discuss what you like about yourself – It may seem cliche to stand in the mirror each morning with a mantra, but they’re used for a reason. While you don’t need to have any kind of special saying that you repeat to yourself everyday, try to make time to tell yourself your favorite qualities or traits. Maybe you really like the color of your eyes, or your sense of humor. Saying those things out loud, even to yourself, can really change your attitude and the way you perceive things.
Lastly, if you find you need someone to talk to about your self loathing, it’s never a bad idea to try out a support group. If you feel like that might make things worse, a therapist or life coach can be an excellent option, too, offering someone who’s there to listen to you directly. You might be surprised at how effective having someone listening to your concerns can really be, and they can offer you the insight to make positive changes, and see yourself in a different, refreshing, self-respecting way.
Dr. Lynn Alexander, of Palo Alto Therapy & Counseling cares deeply and passionately about helping people live richer, more satisfying lives.
As part of my commitment to this I have been teaching and supervising other therapists for the past 20 years at a variety of locations both locally and nationally, so I have experience you can trust. My particular focus is helping other therapists deepen their empathy and understanding to the point where they really can see the world their clients are showing them, as if they are standing in that person’s shoes, looking out through their eyes. This empathy and understanding will help you to feel safer, no longer so alone, and better able to face the things causing you pain.