Why Do I Hate Myself So Much, And How Can I Learn To Love Me?
By: Joanna Smykowski
Updated February 20, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
You are the closest person to you, and know yourself better than anyone. No matter what you know to be true of your life, it is easy to hide that truth from family, friends, and co-workers. It doesn't matter how talented you are at hiding the truth of your life from others; your real internal persona is always there waiting to show who you are.
It can become incredibly difficult to keep up the façade behind which we hide, and it seems the more we try, the more we begin to develop self-loathing of our true selves. We all wear masks, but sometimes the masks we wear cannot be maintained forever.
Inside vs. Outside
Some of us have physical attributes we do not like, and these are the ones we know everyone else can see. While we can take steps to improve our physical selves, we are also more prone to talk about these to others. Obviously, we realize our physical selves are in direct awareness of those we interact with.
Our personality traits are a different matter. When we meet someone new or begin working in a new environment, we wish to put our best foot forward. Therefore, those attributes we have been conditioned to believe are unattractive about ourselves are the ones we strive to conceal. It is not easy to keep up the façade, and once the mask begins to slip it is not so much that our true selves are revealed that causes others to react negatively or withdraw, but more that they become uncomfortable with the inconsistency of what is real and what is not.
Our sense of self is largely based upon our early relationships. Whatever we liked or disliked about ourselves began with what others liked or disliked about us. The irony is that what others liked or disliked about us was often based on projections of what they found unattractive or unlikable about themselves.
People who have the healthiest sense of self are generally those who take time alone for self-reflection - time away from interacting with other people. It is important that we develop a relationship with ourselves - without outside influences. This relationship with ourselves is sometimes called an intrapersonal relationship versus interpersonal relationships or relationships with others. When we are with others, we constantly assess and analyze their facial cues and other nonverbal responses to us, and sometimes mistakenly read the worst from them.
Who Are You...When No One Is Around
You need to ask yourself this question: Who am I when no one is watching? This is an important question for all of us to ask ourselves. It's very simple to do good when others are watching. This way we can either listen to their praise or at least avoid their scorn. But how are your actions when you know you will not be punished or lauded by others?
If you are manipulating others, cheating or deceiving those around you...Or just generally acting selfishly, others may not know, but you will know. Even if these behaviors don't go against your values, this is still an unhealthy way of living, and deep down, many people know this. This creates what is known as cognitive dissonance. This is when your actions are in direct contradiction to your values or beliefs. Most people do not want to lie too, so when they do it to others, they feel either guilt or shame. These feelings of guilt or shame can stay with a person for a long time.
Instead, if you concentrate on being honest and forthright towards others, this will create a feeling of pride and dignity. People around you will notice this. Most people the person to people who exude these qualities rather than self-loathing deceivers. People who feel okay about themselves do the right thing even when no one is watching.
Do You Admit Mistakes
We all make mistakes. Mistakes along with failures are just a part of life and cannot be avoided. At the same time, if we don't make mistakes, we would rarely learn much.
What is more important is how you react when you make a mistake. Do you try to hide it? Perhaps, you try to place the blame on others?
Instead, if you focus on accepting the responsibility for what happened, you can both learn from it and feel respected for taking a mature approach. Immature people are afraid of how their mistakes will be perceived by others and will attempt to obfuscate the circumstances. By taking responsibility, you can learn from the mistake and feel both more knowledgeable and at ease. People who love themselves don't blame others for their mistakes.
What Do You Do With Failure
Failures should never define us. When we fail, we should not wallow in misery and self-pity. Throughout life, we will meet with many roadblocks on our path to completing our goals. Sometimes, these roadblocks are insurmountable and cannot be overcome.
However, these struggles can also define us, make us stronger and more resilient. These failures can reveal who we really are and what kind of stuff we are made of...allowing us to develop grit or mental toughness. If we use failure as a way to rebuild ourselves and our goals, rather than blame or humiliate others, we can turn our failures into a moment of triumph, a triumph over ourselves and our pettiness. Nothing great is ever achieved without a certain amount of failure along the way.
If we do not take the time to know ourselves, and if all we know of ourselves is what others tell us, then we are doing ourselves a disservice. It is important to take stock of ourselves and to be honest regarding those attributes we do not like. We must be courageous enough to look into our internal mirror and reflect upon our true selves to see ourselves as we are, not as others project us to be.
Ridding ourselves of negative projections is not easy, but it is necessary. We cannot take responsibility for how others feel about us, or how they see us. However, we can take responsibility for whether or not we absorb this into our narrative of ourselves. If we take the time to know ourselves, we become better judges of the information we receive from others regarding our behaviors. Just as when we hear someone say something about a friend we know to be untrue or unfounded and come to that person's defense, we must be ready to do the same for ourselves.
Finding time for self-reflection will take some rearranging of time and priorities. This may not be easy. Some may find it helpful, to begin with, this conversation with a therapist or life coach who is trained to actively listen and provide appropriate feedback. Remember, only you can know the person you truly want to be in life.
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