The biggest tragedy of life is hating yourself. Very few things are as painful as a person turned against themselves. Self-hatred is deeply corrosive to the individual in question, and the relationships they form with others. You see, healthy relationships comprise healthy individuals, and self-hatred is anything but healthy. Much like slow poison, it kills your sense of self.
Not many people address the subject head-on. The questions surrounding it are quite daunting after all. Is hating yourself a sign of depression? Can there be a self-loathing narcissist? Why does self-hatred sabotage loving relationships? It’s time we answered these (and more) in-depth with the help of a mental health professional.
For that, we turn to counseling psychologist Kranti Momin (Masters in Psychology), who is an experienced CBT practitioner and specializes in various domains of relationship counseling. She’s here with some incisive insights for people struggling with self-hatred.
What Does It Mean To Despise Myself?
It’s vital to answer this question before we dive deeper into the subject. What does self-hatred mean? The term is exactly what it suggests – an intense loathing for one’s own self. An individual suffering from self-hatred dislikes themselves; this hatred births a host of issues, some of them as severe as clinical depression and suicidal ideation.
Kranti puts it quite simply, “It’s a dysfunctional thought process. Any and all thoughts about yourself are constantly negative. You’re dissatisfied with each sphere of your life.” If you’re someone who self-hates, you might be constantly critical of everything you do. You will not experience joy or fulfillment by yourself. A self-loathing so intense will lead you to struggle in every aspect of your life.
The 3 Ds of self-hatred – What does self-hatred mean?
- Dissatisfaction: Statements like “This could have been so much better; I can get nothing right”are the norm of the day. No matter what you accomplish, there is a lingering discontent in your mind. Nothing is good enough for you because you think you aren’t good enough for anything
- Disrespect: You are your worst critic. Shaming and feeling disgust toward yourself is quite common for you. If you’ve got qualms with your appearance, you might direct negative commentary at your body. “You’re a fat loser, and people are repulsed by the way you look”
- (Self) Destruction: Substance abuse, self-harm, excessive drinking, binge-eating, and so on are just a few examples of self-hatred translating into behavior. This destruction is usually directed toward the self, but in a few cases, jealousy might lead you to sabotage the lives of others
While this answers what self-hatred is, you might be struggling to understand if you are its victim. A reader from Kansas wrote, “I’m having trouble understanding what’s going wrong. I’ve known that I have low self-esteem, but why am I always so hard on myself? It feels like I can’t get anything right. Is this self-hatred?” Well, take a look at the signs of self-hatred; how many boxes will you check?
Related Reading: What To Expect When You Love A Man With Low Self-Esteem
The signs of self-hatred
It’s possible to showcase two signs at the same time even if they appear contradictory. Evaluate yourself objectively without trying to make sense of things. Just be truthful to yourself.
- Nipping dreams in the bud: You don’t see the point in being ambitious or aiming high. Since you aren’t convinced of your ability to fulfill those dreams, you don’t take the first step at all
- A pro at pessimism: Some people see the world through rose-tinted glasses, but you see it through muck-covered grey ones. The world is a dreary place as far as you’re concerned
- Green-eyed monster: A low self-esteem means thinking most people are better than you. Consequently, these individuals bring out your jealous side. They’ve got what you want
- Waiting for the green signal: You’re seeking everyone’s approval at any given point in time. The capacity to appease is endless, and you’re on an eternal quest for validation
- Poor me: A victim complex is certainly on the table. You see yourself as helpless or victimized quite often. Best get over this… Self-pity never did anyone a favor
- Mental health on the rocks: You either suffer from depression or chronic anxiety because of your self-hatred. Both are common diagnoses associated with a low self-esteem
- Flaring up: Angry young man/woman? Self-hatred leads to a quick temper and verbal diarrhea. You blow your fuse on the most trivial matters and this affects your relationships in all spheres. Safe to say, anger management is not your thing
- Taking things personally: Chances are you construe the most nonchalant comments as personal attacks. Even when things aren’t directed toward you, you’re sure to take offense
I hope you did not resonate with any of the signs listed above. Self-hatred is truly toxic, isn’t it? We now move further and trace its origins. What are the roots of self-hatred? Because nothing just ‘happens’ to be…
What Is Self-Hatred A Symptom Of?
Paula had struggled with anorexia since she was 14. Her disorder had developed when she got bullied at boarding school. The girls teased her relentlessly, calling names. She decided to take things into her own hands. Thus began calorie counting, excessive dieting, and ultimately, starving. Paula internalized hate for her body. Soon, this spilled over into the other parts of herself – she decided she was a failure.
Eleven years later, Paula has come a long way from where she started. Years of therapy have put things in perspective for her. However, she still wages an inner war before eating a pastry. She says, “I remember being in my teens and thinking, “I hate myself so much it hurts.” So many people and situations went into that hatred. It got reinforced every single day. I know I’m late to the self-love club, but better late than never, right?”
Manifold reasons lie behind an individual’s self-hatred. Look at it as a three-tiered cake. The first tier is your self-hatred, the second tier is a negative self-concept, and the third tier is composed of past experiences/trauma.
Trauma and self-hatred
Kranti explains, “Self-hatred arises from a negative sense of self. It stems from your self-worth. Past experiences, your environment, and the feedback from your social groups have reinforced the negative self-image. You carry a certain amount of helplessness – I am not good enough, I am not worthy of anyone, etc.”
Moreover, self-hatred suggests that you are not secure in yourself. You rely on validation and fulfillment from others. The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves; this relationship is dysfunctional and toxic in your case. You’ve got a lot of unrealistic expectations from yourself.
Maybe you had a traumatic childhood or toxic parents that shaped your psyche in a specific way. Perhaps you were bullied as an adolescent and internalized the perception of your bully. Or maybe an abusive ex has resulted in your self-hatred. At its core, self-hatred is an offshoot of unresolved or unprocessed trauma. It takes a lot of time and work to undo such damage.
Is Self-Hatred Ruining Your Relationship? 7 Signs That Say So
Now that you’ve grasped the intricacies of self-hate, we should explore its effect on your relationship. Because a romantic bond is a big part of your life and the first one to fall prey to your self-loathing. Is this already happening? Can you sense your partner checking out of the relationship? And is your self-hatred the baddie in this scenario?
You don’t want to drive someone away because you didn’t do the self-work. All counselors uphold one maxim – healthy individuals make healthy relationships. It is our responsibility to be the best version of ourselves. This process begins with spotting the problem areas. Read on to find out what’s going wrong in the relationship because of your self-hatred.
1. Why am I always so hard on myself? You’re living in perpetual fear
Will they dump me? Will they not? Plucking petals, are you? Self-hatred makes you think that your partner is out of your league. And then you jump down the rabbit-hole of awaiting disaster. You’re right in thinking, ‘my self-hatred is ruining my relationship,’ if you are waiting to be dumped. This makes you tread on eggshells in the relationship occasionally because you’re afraid of rejection and breakups.
Be honest with me, have you been gripped by the fear of getting dumped lately? If yes, do you have a concrete foundation on which the fear rests? Probably not. You won’t be able to pinpoint a specific issue, and there might not be one. Kranti says, “It’s the voice in your head that says you aren’t good enough, worthy enough. It has you convinced that the joy you’re feeling is short-lived.”
Your anxiety about the relationship is stemming from here. In an extreme scenario, you might even suspect your partner of being unfaithful. This self-hatred is a self-sabotaging behavior that will eat away at the relationship. Take matters into your own hands, and walk the path of self-love.
Related Reading: How To Avoid Self-Sabotaging Relationships?
2. Emotional dependence? Absolutely
Reassuring someone is a task that demands energy and patience. Your partner is not a saint and will run out of one or both at some point in the relationship. Your self-hatred makes you rely on constant validation and emotional assurance from your better half. “You still love me, right” or “I’m not a bad person, am I?” are staple statements in the relationship.
Kranti says, “This is very exhausting to live with. You can’t put the responsibility of your emotional wellbeing and stability on someone completely. It’s a burden that is not theirs to bear. Your anxiety is probably driving you to ask for repeated affirmations, and your partner is providing them too. But this isn’t sustainable in the least, you can’t go on this way. Emotional dependence is a huge reason relationships crumble.”
3. You tend to take things personally
There are transgressions, and then there are perceived transgressions. Nine times out of ten, you pick fights because you perceived a statement as a personal attack. Say, Joan and Robert are dating each other. Robert is a victim of self-hatred and is particularly insecure about his position at work. During a disagreement, Joan says, “Do you want me to apologize for being good at my job?” What Robert hears is, “At least I’m good at my job, unlike you.”
If you find your partner saying things like “That’s not what I meant,” it’s a relationship red flag. They’re having to explain themselves to you very often. The next time you find yourself narrowing your eyes at a comment, stop and ask – Is this directed toward me? Halting before responding is a great tactic to adapt.
4. What does self-hatred mean? You’re projecting your issues
Craig Lounsbrough astutely said, “Hatred is the stuff that we turn on others because we turned it on ourselves first.” How wonderful would the world be if the consequences of our problems were limited to ourselves? Alas, that is not the case. Self-hatred rears its ugly head on the people you love too. Your steady discontentment with yourself makes you spiteful and bitter.
You started by saying, “I hate myself so much it hurts,” but you’ve now progressed to, “I hate everything and everyone so much it’s painful.” Snapping at your family, talking ill about your friends, and arguing with your partner are side-effects of self-hatred.
A Facebook user wrote, “My weight was the source of my self-loathing, and I kept losing my temper with my husband. I remember this fight we had where I thought he wasn’t clicking my pictures right on purpose. In truth, I was unhappy with them (and myself).”
5. A marked absence of boundaries
A relationship can never function in the absence of healthy relationship boundaries. Kranti explains, “Boundaries are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. Breaching your partner’s boundaries or failing to draw your own are invitations to disaster. Self-hatred makes you lose sight of this. You either let someone walk all over you or you get attached to them in an invasive manner.”
Self-hatred makes you compromise on yourself; you’re more likely to stay in abusive and toxic relationships because ‘who else will date me?’ Leaving a relationship of your own accord is highly unlikely – no matter how bad your partner is, you’ll stick around. And similarly, you don’t respect their boundaries either. Here’s a reminder that self-hatred doesn’t give you a free pass into someone else’s personal space.
6. There’s trouble between the sheets
Because you are unhappy and uncomfortable with yourself, physical intimacy might not come as easily to you. A close friend of mine struggled with receiving compliments because she never believed them. By extension, affection was no piece of cake for her. Hugs, pecks on the cheek, hand-holding, and so on were challenging. I remember her (ex) boyfriend’s frustration. They drifted further and further away until they stopped sleeping together completely.
If these preliminary signs are making an appearance in your relationship already, reach out to a relationship counselor at the earliest. Sexual compatibility is a crucial part of a relationship, and it can be achieved with focused effort. Don’t let self-hatred find its way to your bed.
7. The glass is half empty – “My self-hatred is ruining my relationship”
A pessimistic outlook is highly challenging to work with. Your partner is tired of the fact that things are never good from your perspective. As Kranti says, “I’ve said it before, and I’m circling back again – it gets draining. You exhaust your partner emotionally and physically with constant pessimism. No one likes a thief of joy, especially when they’re someone you want to share your life with.” Everyone needs hope to keep going.
Say your partner is up for a promotion at work. Do you say something cynical like, “Let’s see how it goes, you never know with these things…”? This is where your problem lies. You carry the blues with you and there’s no scope of a rainbow in the relationship.
Well, that was a long list. I wonder which conclusion you’ve arrived at. Is your self-hatred ruining your relationship? If yes, then the next step is figuring out a strategy for recovery. Enough of self-hate, let’s talk about self-love tips.
How Do You Change Self-Hate Into Self-Love?
Cheri Huber said, “If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…” And how true is this? You’d peg a friend or partner as toxic, even abusive, right away. Never tolerate disrespect from anyone – even yourself. So, how can you break the pattern?
Kranti explains, “Because it’s a dysfunctional thought process you’re dealing with, therapy becomes a must. The journey of recovery will be long and you will have to give it time, lots of time. The first thing I’d ask you is, “What is going wrong?” Because we believe that an individual is the best judge of their experiences. They can help themselves the most. After this, you’d arrive at a conclusion and pinpoint the origin of sorts. Hereafter your healing begins.”
Is hating yourself a sign of depression, you ask? Yes, it is a possibility. One of the symptoms of depression is a negative self-concept but there are other factors at play too. Please reach out to a mental health professional for an even-handed evaluation of your condition. At Bonobology, we have a panel of licensed counselors and therapists who can help you analyze your situation better. Many individuals have emerged stronger after seeking help from us. We are always here for you.