Everyone has their good days and bad days. Some unexpected developments in life can leave you unimpressed with yourself. You tend to have negative thoughts about yourself. If you make mistakes at work, you will take all the blame and consider yourself worthless. Self-loathing is unhealthy and you should try to overcome negative thoughts about yourself. Let us tell you the reasons behind self-loathing and how to stop hating yourself.
What is self-loathing?
If you have intense and negative feelings toward yourself, that is self-loathing. Dr. Rituparna Ghosh, Clinical Psychologist, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, says it involves a deep-seated belief that you are unworthy, inadequate or just plain flawed. It is an emotional state that can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as negative self-talk, self-destructive behavior, and a profound sense of shame or guilt.
People who struggle with self-loathing often engage in distorted thought patterns, which magnify their shortcomings and minimize their strengths. This cognitive distortion reinforces their negative self-image, creating a cycle of self-reinforcing negativity, the expert notes.
Causes of self-loathing
There are some common causes of self-loathing:
1. Early life experiences
Childhood experiences, especially those involving neglect, abuse, or harsh criticism, can significantly influence a person’s self-perception. Negative interactions with caregivers or peers during the formative years can lead to internalizing feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy.
2. Social and cultural influences
Societal pressure, unrealistic beauty standards and cultural expectations can contribute to negative self-comparisons and feelings of inadequacy. Constant exposure to media images of ‘ideal’ lifestyle and appearance can erode self-esteem and promote self-criticism.
A tendency toward perfectionism, in which people set unrealistically high standards for themselves, can lead to chronic self-criticism. Failures or perceived shortcomings can be magnified, leading them to believe that they are simply flawed.
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4. Negative self-comparison
Constantly comparing yourself to others can trigger feelings of self-loathing. This may involve focusing on the achievements, appearance, or successes of others while ignoring one’s own strengths and achievements.
5. Traumatic experiences
Trauma, whether from a single event or ongoing situations, can have a profound impact on a person’s self-image. Trauma survivors may blame themselves for the events or believe that their experiences make them unworthy of love and care, Dr. Ghosh tells Health Shots.
Tips to stop hating yourself
There are strategies you can consider to reduce self-loathing.
1. Practicing self-compassion
Cultivating self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would give to a friend. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your struggles without self-judgment and by speaking to yourself in a supportive and empathetic way.
2. Cognitive restructuring
Cognitive-behavioral techniques can help you identify and challenge negative self-talk and distorted thought patterns. Question the validity of your self-criticism, gather evidence for your positive qualities, and reframe negative beliefs with more balanced and realistic perspectives.
3. Mindfulness and acceptance
Mindfulness exercises can help you develop awareness of your thoughts and emotions without judgment. By learning to accept your thoughts and feelings as passing experiences, you can reduce the intensity of self-loathing and create space for self-growth.
4. Focus on strengths and achievements
Make a list of your strengths, achievements, and positive qualities. By participating in activities that emphasize these strengths, you can increase your self-esteem and counteract the tendency to focus solely on your so-called shortcomings.
You can also see a therapist who can provide a safe space to explore the underlying causes of self-loathing and ultimately build a healthier self-image.