Tips For When You Feel Like You Hate Yourself

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

It can be painful and disheartening to think you are not enough. When you're experiencing negative emotions like these, it's sometimes difficult to figure out how not to hate yourself. If this is something you’re grappling with, it may be helpful to dig into why you may have feelings of self-loathing and consider how you can move forward with more love for yourself. For instance, you might ask yourself about who you are when no one is around and ask "which external influences may play a role in the way I currently view myself?" This type of introspection can be challenging to work through on your own, so you might consider connecting with a mental health professional online or in person for professional guidance and support to help lead you through the process.

Are you finding it difficult to practice self-love?

Questions to consider about your self-loathing and mental health

If you often experience feelings of low self-esteem and are finding it difficult to embrace self-love and combat self-hate, consider some of the tips and questions below to help you move forward.

Who are you on the inside versus the outside?

As you dig into why you might have a negative self-concept, try to consider where these feelings of self-hatred are directed. Do they have something to do with your physical appearance, or are they about who you are on the inside? Could your negative views stem from both sources? 

If your hateful thoughts are primarily tied to your physical appearance, you may want to challenge it and consider where you learned what it is about your appearance that aren’t worthy of love. Society’s unrealistic beauty standards or harmful outside messages may be at play.

If your negative inner voice is mostly tied to your internal self, try to consider whether it is coming from a idea that there are things you actually don’t like and want to improve or if it stems from the things you were conditioned into believing were unlikeable. We may all have things we can improve on, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of self-love.

Which external influences may play a role?

Our sense of self can be influenced by our early relationships. For many of us, it began with what others liked or disliked about us. However, the tricky part here is that what others liked or disliked about us was often based on projections of their own negative thought patterns about themselves, so it is often not a reliable source.

If you have reached a point where you are finding it difficult to love yourself, consider the possible external influences that may be at play: for instance, did you receive certain messages from peers or parents growing up that informed what you like and dislike about yourself? As you identify these influences, you can begin to challenge them.

Developing a healthy sense of self often requires taking time alone for self-reflection—time away from interacting with other people. Through time alone, we can develop a relationship with ourselves without outside influences or unrealistic expectations, so we can begin to realize a clearer picture of who we actually are, separate from those external messages. 

Who are you when no one else is around?

As you try to determine where this negative view of yourself is coming from and how to address it, you can also ask yourself this question: Who am I when no one is watching?

It could be possible that some of your hateful self-talk is based on how you feel like who you are with others and is not an accurate reflection of who you are in reality. It could also be that you believe you only do something good when others are watching but are not as kind or loving when you are aware others can’t see it. Below are a couple of questions to answer to help you explore these feelings further.

Do you admit mistakes?

We are all human; we all have flaws and everyone in the world makes mistakes. Mistakes can be a normal part of life, and they can be great learning opportunities. What is often more important than making or not making a mistake can be how you deal with it when you do make one. How have you handled past mistakes? Do you try to hide it? Do you perhaps get angry or, worse, try to place the blame on others? Do you acknowledge you are responsible for the mistake and try to learn from it? 

If you focus on accepting responsibility for what happened, you can learn from it and feel a sense of self-respect for taking a mature approach. In addition, taking responsibility for your mistakes and then forgiving yourself for them can be a productive act of self-love.

What do you do with failure?

Throughout life, we will likely meet many roadblocks on our path to completing our goals. Sometimes, these roadblocks may be insurmountable and cannot be overcome, so we may fail. How do you handle this failure? Do you engage in self-destructive behaviors like beating yourself up for it, wallowing in self-pity, or blaming others for things that went wrong? Conversely, do you allow yourself to mourn the loss but choose not to allow it to define your worth? Do you accept that failures are a part of life, continue loving yourself, and keep working toward your goals?

Are you finding it difficult to practice self-love?

Could it be something else?

Experiences with hating oneself may have many internal and external sources, but that’s not always the case. You may find it difficult to overcome persistent feelings of intense self-criticism or self-hatred because of another underlying cause, such as undiagnosed mental health disorders or PTSD. A mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder can attack our self-confidence and latch onto our negative self-concept. Others may be filled with self-hatred from unresolved past traumas that they’ve survived, even from when they were children, whether those events were mentally, emotionally, physically, or sexually traumatic.

The severity of self-hate people experience with mental health issues or trauma varies, but they may struggle with habits such as self-harm, anger, or substance abuse, or become weighed down with suicidal thoughts.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is struggling with severe symptoms of self-hatred, Mental Health America offers free screenings for mental health conditions so people can take the conversation to their doctors or mental health professionals and potentially pursue an official diagnosis and treatment plan.

Can therapy teach you self-compassion and raise your self-esteem?

We can’t always control how others feel about us or how they see us. However, we can control whether we absorb this into our narrative of ourselves. If we take a moment to get to know ourselves, we can become better judges of the information we receive from others regarding our behavior. 

Many of these steps and questions can be difficult to sort through on your own. Figuring out how to identify your feelings toward yourself and challenge external influences can be very challenging and confusing. Talking to a friend or family member can help, but if you would like additional support with this process and with figuring out how to love yourself more, a mental health professional can help.

Benefits of online therapy

Digging into negative thinking and challenging harmful feedback you may have heard from others can hurt and may make you feel painful and vulnerable. Some people may prefer diving into these difficult topics in an environment where they already feel safe and comfortable, such as your own home. With mental health resources, such as online therapy, you can choose to speak with your therapist remotely wherever is most comfortable and convenient for you, so long as you have an internet connection. Just fill out the form online to sign up, and you can be matched with a therapist within 48 hours in most cases. BetterHelp does not accept health insurance for its service, but discounts and financial aid are available to some people.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Research has shown that online therapy can be effective in improving one’s view of oneself and treating oneself with more compassion. For instance, one such study examined the outcomes of an online intervention for improving self-compassion. It found that “self-compassion, mindfulness, reassuring-self, and satisfaction with life significantly increased” as a result of the online program. 


Feeling negatively toward yourself can be very painful, and if you often think, “I hate myself so much it's painful” it may be useful to consider some of the tips and questions above to help you move forward. For instance, you can consider where these negative views are directed and what role external influences may have played in forming these views. For further support, you can connect with a licensed therapist online or in person.

You are deserving of positive self-esteem
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started