Everyone at some point or another (especially teenagers) asks themselves the same gut-wrenching question: why do people hate me? Addressing your own underlying thought processes may lead you to understand how and why you feel alienated by those around you. Also, there is a strong possibility that you aren't bothering anyone but rather feeling overly self-conscious about your behavior. Getting to know yourself and speaking to people you trust like a friend or mental health professional can give you essential insight into your situation, lifestyle, or unrealistic thinking.
"Why Do People Hate Me?" Feelings, Thoughts, Or Reality?
When you feel as if others are mad at you, it's hard to figure out if it's you or them. Are you doing something to annoy others, or is it all in your head? You may be struggling with self-esteem issues, which can be extremely difficult. But don't blame yourself for feelings of insecurity. It is possible you might worry about being disliked because you are living with anxiety.
Anxiety makes you worry about many things, and one of them is how others perceive you. You may identify as a people-pleaser. When someone isn't happy about what you're doing, you feel like they hate you. That's unlikely; instead, it could be a reflection of your anxiety.
Did I Do Something Wrong?
According to Dr. Robert Firestone, experiencing hostile feelings is essential to being mentally healthy. If we don't experience a full range of emotions, we might repress our emotions and cause emotional damage. It's normal and healthy to get angry from time to time, but remember that anger is different than hate. When you feel hate toward someone, it's usually because they did something so awful that you're making a judgment about their moral character. However, when you're angry at another person, it's because they behaved in a way that hurt your feelings or frustrated you. It's critical to make this distinction. One way to figure out the difference between hate and anger is by discussing your feelings with a therapist. We'll talk more about this later in the article.
Most of the time, the feeling that "everyone hates me" is a paranoid thought. By definition, paranoid thinking is an instinct or thought process heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Because our thoughts or feelings tend to rule us, we often forget that simply thinking or believing something doesn't make it true.
Paranoia is a symptom of certain mental disorders; it usually involves intense feelings of fear or anxiety associated with threats, persecution, or conspiracy by others. These feelings are often an exaggerated response. Left untreated, they can lead to delusional thought patterns, where the individual believes things that are not true and maintains their stance even when presented with contradictory evidence. For example, someone with paranoid or delusional thoughts might think their spouse is going to leave them. Even when their spouse consoles them and offers reassurance that they're not abandoning the relationship, the person experiencing paranoia may hold firm in their belief.
A separate issue, social anxiety can also lead a person to think that others are excessively aware of or judging them. If this pattern of thinking is not confronted, it can lead to serious mental health concerns like agoraphobia or other avoidance behaviors. Thankfully, there are ways to address feelings like "everyone hates me," and "no one likes me" head-on.
Below, we will discuss various lifestyle changes and therapy techniques that can help you come to terms with the way others see you and the way you see yourself. First, it's important to realize that anxiety, and social anxiety, in particular, are typically at the root of any "everyone hates me" thoughts.
Social anxiety is a fear of adverse judgment from others, especially in social situations, and/or the fear of public embarrassment. This fear may or may not be based on fact, but it must be resolved before you can begin feeling better. In essence, if you relieve the anxiety symptom, the "everyone hates me" thought will most likely leave as well.
To better manage anxiety and the thoughts that accompany it, begin with lifestyle changes. Certain factors, like poor diet, toxic relationships, lack of physical activity, or constant negative thinking, may exacerbate your feelings of alienation or anxiety.
Feeling like others hate you is often a maladaptive construct, stemming from an underlying issue or poor self-care. Nutrition psychology is the study of how the choices you make about food and physical activity impact your mental state and overall well-being.
More and more, we're coming to accept the food-mood connection as the source of certain mental health disorders, especially when it comes to the link between emotions and the presence of certain nutrients in our diet. The neurotransmitters involved in our mental health are created by chemicals found in the foods we eat. To improve your mood, you need to be aware of and perhaps increase your intake of essential vitamins, including omega-3s, folic acid, vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium, and tryptophan.
Other acts of self-care that may reduce your anxiety include:
Fight Your Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions are biased ways of thinking about ourselves and the world around us. In our minds, we see these thoughts as truths, when in fact, they're often irrational. There are several types of cognitive distortions, including mindreading, which leads a person to conclude that someone is reacting to or thinking negatively about them without bothering to check it out. Similarly, all-or-nothing thinking is when you see things in black-and-white categories. These are the kinds of falsehoods that come into play when you begin to think, "everybody hates me."
If you want to fight these biases, first, you need to stop mindreading! For example, if you say hello to someone and they don't respond, don't assume they hate you. Instead, consider other possibilities. For example, perhaps they were distracted and didn't see or hear you.
Fight the tendency to make a disagreement about you unless you know for a fact that you did something to upset the other person. This was one way Jenny, a 16-year-old, changed her thought that everyone hated her. For weeks, Jenny's older sister, Melanie, had refused to spend time with Jenny. Although they used to be close, now Melanie rarely came out of her room. When Jenny spoke to her sister or invited her to do something, Melanie would brush her off. Jenny felt her parents hated her as well. Just like Melanie, they were always preoccupied and avoided Jenny whenever she entered a room.
After talking to her guidance counselor, Jenny decided to sit down with her sister and parents to talk about her feelings. They were shocked to learn she thought they hated her! It turned out that Melanie's boyfriend had dumped her, and she was depressed and embarrassed while mom and dad were preoccupied with financial troubles that required them to work extra hours. In the end, Jenny was relieved to know their behavior wasn't about her at all.
Attack Your Negativity
The old saying "fight fire with fire" couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to anxious or negative thoughts. In fact, negative thoughts like "why does everyone hate me?" can grow when fed. Their food? More negative thinking. To combat this harmful thinking, try meditating on, repeating, or even writing some of the following affirmations instead:
Addressing Your Hang-Ups
Access to services of all kinds has become simpler and easier with the rise of the internet and smartphones. Affordable, quality mental health care is notoriously hard to come by, as you can encounter financial barriers, ideological differences, and unprofessional therapists. Online platforms such as BetterHelp have emerged to connect those in need of care with skilled mental health professionals, providing the convenience of remote support. Addressing and processing your feelings is essential for mental healing, as people who live with these concerns often see higher rates of substance abuse and alcoholism, interpersonal challenges, and productivity issues at work and home.
BetterHelp Supports You Exploring Your Difficult Emotions
If you feel your negative thoughts are getting in the way of the life you desire, consider reaching out to a professional for help. It's not easy to confront your fears, but seeing an online therapist is a step toward emotional wellness. Research shows that online counseling can improve your mental health and help people living with anxiety. One such study from Palo Alto University found that video-based cognitive behavior therapy was effective among study participants, showing that approximately 73% saw an improvement of symptoms after six weeks. The data suggests a “decelerated decrease in symptoms over time.”
Online therapy is a safe place, and counselors at BetterHelp are specially trained to help people just like you explore complicated feelings without judgment and can provide strategies you can use to cope with your anxiety. BetterHelp makes it incredibly convenient to connect with someone you can trust. You choose how to interact with your therapist—by email, text, video, or phone—all from the comfort of home. Read these patient testimonials from people who have turned to BetterHelp:
“Jennifer Feldman is an excellent listener who offers practical, effective strategies for overcoming difficulties and managing my mental health. She remembers the things that I say, which helps me to feel understood and helps to identify my patterns of negative thinking which have far-reaching consequences. We are then able to use that retained knowledge to reverse the patterns. I recommend Jennifer Feldman for counseling to address habitual negative thought patterns.”
“I have greatly appreciated my time with Stephanie. She asks the right questions and helps contextualize what I am going through in a way that is very compassionate and non-judgemental. Stephanie knows how to challenge negative thought patterns which helps me catch them when they happen outside of our sessions. Our sessions have proven very beneficial and I value our client/counselor relationship immensely.”
Feeling hated by others can be incredibly uncomfortable. Remember, there are reasons for these thoughts, and you can learn how to cope with your concerns with the right tools. Take the first step with BetterHelp today.