Are you happy and contented with your life?Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not.
Life isn’t always kind to us.For a lot of us, there’s a constant battle waging on in our minds against our insecurities and inner demons. Some days are so bleak and dreary that they leave us feeling hopeless, worthless, and empty. But even on the days when things seem to be looking up for us, we still can’t help but feel worried and unworthy of anything good that comes our way.
Why is it so hard for some people to just let themselves be happy? To feel like they’re good enough and that they deserve to have their dreams come true? It’s because people like this tend to struggle with self-loathing. Self-loathing is defined as hatred for oneself that may manifest as anger, self-sabotage, and low self-esteem (Brown & Bosson, 2001).
If this sounds like you and you want to learn more about why, here are 7 of the most common reasons why you may hate yourself:
1. You Had a Bad Childhood
Growing up in a toxic home environment and living with a dysfunctional family can be extremely damaging to a person’s mental health and self-esteem (Witchel, 1991). Usually, toxic families are either too strict and controlling, or indifferent and neglectful. As young children, we can’t help but think that the reason behind this is our fault, that they are right to mistreat us this way. We look up to our parents and the adult figures in our lives. We grow up wanting their love, attention, respect, and approval, and the more it’s denied, the more we desire it.
2. You Had a Rough Time at School
Another reason why self-loathing develops in a person is because they’ve been mistreated, not at home, but at school. Were you ever bullied by anyone? Did you struggle to fit in and make friends? Social crises like these can cultivate feelings of shame, self-doubt, and self-hatred. You’ll start to ask yourself, “Why is this happening to me? Why don’t people like me? Is there something wrong with me?”
3. You Struggle with Past Trauma
Instead of a certain span of time (like childhood or school age), there may have been a specific incident in your past that caused you to feel this way. Maybe it was the absenteeism of a parent; a nasty break-up; the death of a loved one; or an abusive relationship. People tend to define themselves based on their experiences in life, and when something terrible happens to you, it’s hard not to feel as if you deserve it. Thus, the trauma of our negative past experiences can manifest as denial, defeat, or self-hatred.
4. You Feel Disconnected
This reason is much more philosophical than the rest, but it takes its roots from Existential Psychology. One of the pioneers of this field, Rollo Reese May believed that self-hatred is what happens when we become too ego-centric and focused on ourselves. It leads to a feeling of disconnect between us, others, and the world. This leads to feelings of unexplained loneliness, emptiness, and meaninglessness. When we think too much about everything from our point of view and fail to realize our place in the Universe, we deny ourselves the opportunity of fulfilling our greatest potential, and thus, unknowingly hate ourselves for it.
5. You Don’t Have Social Support
Social support has been shown to be a very important protective factor against trauma and depression (Kleiman & Liu, 2013), so when you have no one in your life who you can count on to be there for you in times of distress and emotional need, it further reinforces your feelings of self-loathing. From family, to friends, to colleagues, a lack of meaningful, intimate relationships in your life can make it harder for you to feel loved, cared for, and accepted – all of which are integral to battling feelings of loneliness, worthlessness, and low self-esteem.
6. You’re Always Comparing Yourself to Others
It’s emotionally exhausting, always comparing yourself to other people and competing with them to be better.The unhealthy need to feel superior to others and setting unrealistically high expectations of ourselves only makes us feel worse about ourselves when we fail to measure up to them. In fact, research has found that more social media exposure often results in symptoms of depression, loneliness, and anxiety (De Choudhury, Gamon, Counts, & Horvitz, 2013); while detoxifying and disconnecting from it for a short while has been proven to improve our happiness and peace of mind (White, 2013).
7. You Have a Negative Self-Concept
Finally, and most importantly, the reason why you hate yourself may be because ofyour negative self-concept. A self-concept is defined as a person’s view of themselves that’s based on their values, principles, experiences, and relationships (Burns, 1979). When you choose to define yourself according to the bad things in your life (be it, a traumatic experience, dysfunctional family, or mistreatment at school), you are internalizing all that negativity and convincing yourself that you are a terrible person. In focusing solely on the ugly parts of your life, you discount all the good things about you and all the wonderful things in your life. You are allowing all of those horrible things to have power over you and dictate how you feel about yourself.
Sadly, there’s no quick fix to overcoming your self-hatred, especially if you’ve been struggling with it for a long time now. Feelings of insecurity, emptiness, and worthlessness don’t just disappear overnight. But the good news is that we don’t have to resign ourselves to such a miserable fate, because with time, hard work, and dedication, it gets better.
The first step to the road to recovery is to understand the reason why you hate yourself, and come to terms with it. Work through your issues and decide for yourself what you want to do about it. It won’t be easy, but only then will you be able to turn your life around and start working towards a brighter, happier life.
- Brown, R. P., & Bosson, J. K. (2001). Narcissus meets Sisyphus: Self-love, self-loathing, and the never-ending pursuit of self-worth. Psychological Inquiry, 12(4), 210-213.
- Witchel, R. I. (1991). The impact of dysfunctional families on college students’ development. New Directions for Student Services, 1991(54), 5-17.
- Kleiman, E. M., & Liu, R. T. (2013). Social support as a protective factor in suicide: Findings from two nationally representative samples. Journal of affective disorders, 150(2), 540-545.
- De Choudhury, M., Gamon, M., Counts, S., & Horvitz, E. (2013, June). Predicting depression via social media. In Seventh international AAAI conference on weblogs and social media.
- White, T. R. (2013). Digital social media detox (DSMD): Responding to a culture of interconnectivity. In Social media and the new academic environment: Pedagogical challenges (pp. 414-430). IGI Global.
- Burns, R. B. (1979). The self concept: in theory, measurement, development and behaviour. London: Longman.