I hate myself: Tips to combat self-hatred

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban
Updated January 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Though everyone may experience feelings of insecurity or disappointment in themselves from time to time, persistent feelings of self-loathing or self-hatred are detrimental to a person’s mental health and self-esteem. These feelings of self-hatred can be rooted in childhood trauma or be due to certain mental health disorders. If you are often feeling like 'I hate myself' or if you feel like a bad person, it may be a sign that you have self-hatred and should look into improving your self-worth. There are ways to improve your self-esteem and self-worth, as well as learn how to concentrate on lessening your inner voice when it is causing you to feel self-hatred.

There’s no simple way or process to understand how to stop hating yourself or thinking I hate myself and experiencing self-hatred may be slightly different for everyone. Instead, there are ways you can learn how to challenge negative thoughts, change your negative inner critic, find value in yourself, improve self-worth, and boost self-love and self-esteem.

To find out more about improving low self-esteem and self-hatred, you can reach out for online therapy and make gradual changes to help you live the life that you want, where you may have an improved sense of self-worth and self-esteem. There are people that feel the same way that you do, where they often think I hate myself and are experiencing self-hatred, but this is something that you can get relief from through counseling. Contrary to what you may currently believe, you don’t have to continue experiencing self-hatred and low self-esteem. There is help available to manage negative thinking.

Reach out

It’s hard to go through challenging times alone, especially when you have experienced a significant loss, feel you might fail, or are having frequent setbacks in your everyday life. This can tend to feel like a downward spiral where one bad thing leads to more bad things, until eventually, it can feel overwhelming.

Though it’s important to have your own sense of self, or self-image, and be able to build yourself up, sometimes the first step to feeling better is being around the people we love is the best way to remember how happy we can make others. This can help to remind you that you are worthy of love and that you matter in the world.

Moreover, positive people and friends may help you improve your mood and thoughts and may keep your inner critic from causing you self-hatred and improve your self-worth.

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Do you or a family member have low self-esteem or self-hatred?

One of the most difficult qualities of people with self-loathing or self-hatred is that they may make a point to sabotage their relationships or efforts as a reaction to feeling that failure is inevitable. Their inner critic may be telling them I hate myself and reinforcing negative self-worth and self-hatred. This is one of the self-destructive behaviors that a person may exhibit, where they could become their own worst enemy.

This critical inner voice could help convince them that they don’t deserve to be happy or good things happen to them. Instead, they may feel shame, and think negative events and past trauma that occurred are things that were justified. This is likely due to the fact that they could be experiencing low self-esteem, self-hatred, or low self-worth.

The reality is that when someone feels like I hate myself, there may be little they can do about their negative thoughts and negative feelings, so be gentle when you talk to them and know that they may need the help of a mental health professional to be able to combat self-hatred, help improve low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and change the way they self-talk.

Often, feeling supported by other people can help individuals feel appreciated and comfortable with themselves. If you feel the same way, consider reaching out for mental health help. Therapy could help you change these feelings of self-hatred and replace them with positive thoughts to help change your self-esteem, self-worth, and the voice of your inner critic.

Recharge and reflect

You’ve probably noticed that your mood tends to plummet when you feel bad, like on the days you don’t get enough sleep or skip a meal. For people who struggle with feelings of self-loathing and self-hatred, times of elevated stress and fear can often exacerbate these feelings of self-hatred. If you’ve found yourself busier than normal, taking time out of your busy schedule to get enough sleep, recharge, and reflect can help you see yourself in a more rational light. For some people, this is an important part of their regular self-care routine. Try your best to continue to eat healthy food as well. These things may go a long way when it comes to improving your self-worth and self-esteem.

Sometimes people with feelings of self-hatred will try to portray an image of being superior or perfect. They may put up emotional walls to prevent others from seeing their vulnerabilities and have frequent feelings of jealousy. This can lead to unrealistic expectations of yourself and even cause a person to turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as substance abuse.

Other times, people who feel bad or struggle with self-hatred will put others' needs before their own. They may feel that they need to prove their worth and self-worth by not giving themselves the opportunity to relax and unwind, or they may feel that they don’t deserve for their needs to be met. It’s important to remember that there is nothing wrong with taking some “me time.” Be sure to get enough sleep and practice meditation when you can. Learning self-love and lessening your negative inner voice can improve your mental health and help you have better relationships in all aspects of your life.

Other constructive ideas include writing down your thoughts, being creative in some capacity, or doing a hobby that you enjoy. Being able to look back on your previous behaviors or past mistakes in a different light and grow from them, is an important aspect of learning to love your life, improve your self-esteem, and lessen self-hatred. Life can be challenging, but by learning how to promote self-love and begging to love yourself for who you are while improving your self-worth and inner critic, you can also learn how to handle negative things or negative events in a more productive way, where you won’t have to spend time thinking I hate myself.

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Make some changes

Though therapy is an important and necessary step in dealing with feelings of self-hatred and low self-esteem, there are some changes you can make on your own to combat negative thoughts in relation to yourself and your inner critic. You may find that it’s hard to take the first step, but with time you’ll be able to view yourself with love instead of hate. 

One of the most important ways you can shift your perspective from I hate myself to improved self-esteem is to identify and acknowledge your feelings and emotions. By being able to recognize your negative thought patterns and negative thinking, and how they’re destructive or causing self-hatred, you can get better at stopping them in their tracks. You can choose to ignore your negative inner voice, inner critic, and thoughts of self-hatred. Additionally, this could help you learn how to practice self-compassion and improve your overall self-esteem so you realize that you are worthy of self-love. Be sure to reach out for mental health resources when you want to, since a therapist can help you understand why you are thinking I hate myself and how to reverse these feelings.

You may also want to take time to look at your life and the people in it with a critical lens. Are there positive people in your life? Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others? Are you sabotaging your self esteem with social media? By looking more closely at which aspects of your life trigger feelings of self-loathing or self-hatred, you can try to prioritize activities that you feel safer in. When you take the time to find a healthier balance between the things you love to do and the things you have to do, you can reach a better sense of self. If you are overly shy, try not to engage in activities that cause you to feel uncomfortable,or  experience an emotional reaction. These can be detrimental to your self-esteem and lead to self-hatred.

Seek professional guidance

If you deal with regular feelings of self-hatred or think 'I hate myself', mental health help is available to you, so you can improve your low self-esteem. By working with a therapist, you can discover new ways to reshape the way you approach negative thoughts and negative thinking, which may help silence your inner critic and limit self-hatred. A licensed therapist will accept you for who you are and can help you to understand your thoughts better. Therapy can be a very effective way to target how to stop hating yourself and thoughts of self-hatred, and might improve your overall self-esteem.

One of the most commonly used forms of therapy for feelings of self-loathing or self-hatred is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is also used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. CBT is solution-focused and works to redesign the way you handle irrational, unproductive thought patterns, such as in the case of a negative inner critic and self-hatred. Instead of focusing on your low self-esteem or why you may feel like 'I hate myself', CBT works to show you how you can see yourself in a different light. Essentially, CBT can help you change your low self-esteem and self-hatred, where you can improve your self-esteem and feel better about yourself. There may be no more thinking I hate myself when you are engaged in therapy.

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
Do you or a family member have low self-esteem or self-hatred?

For people with a mental health condition or mental illness, such as eating disorders or bipolar disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is commonly used to help improve self-esteem. DBT is a form of therapy that is more focused on emotional regulation and a person’s reactions to their emotional state. For people who struggle with self-destructive thoughts, a tough inner critic, and self-destructive behaviors, DBT can be effective in developing coping strategies to prevent irrational behavior and practice self-compassion. This type of therapy could help you reverse feelings of self-hatred and get rid of the thought ‘I hate myself’ once and for all.

Takeaway

If you often struggle with feelings of self-loathing or self-hatred and want to learn more about how to stop this self-hatred, BetterHelp has therapists for adults, and TeenCounseling has therapists for teens that can help. You don’t have to feel alone while you challenge your self-hatred, and working on your mental health with a therapist can help you work through both low self-esteem and critical inner voice in a non-judgmental environment. This may be a good idea when you are concerned about your self-esteem and want to diminish your thoughts of I hate myself. Getting therapy may be a boon to low self-esteem, so you can have a more positive outlook and perspective of yourself.

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