I hate everything about me

Why Self-Hatred Occurs and How to Stop It

I Hate Myself

For most of us, the expression “you are your own worst enemy” holds a lot of truth. It’s a painful reality that much of what limits us in our lives is our own feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred. “I hate myself” is a fairly common thought.

But where do these feelings come from? How do they influence us? And how can we push past them to live a life free of the harsh attitudes of our inner critic?

The Critical Inner Voice and Self-Hatred

In their research, psychologists Dr. Robert and Lisa Firestone found that the most common self-critical thought among a diverse population of subjects tested is “You are different from other people.” Most people see themselves as different, not in some positive or special way, but in a negative sense. Even people who seem well-adjusted and well-liked in their social circles have deep-seated feelings of being an outcast or a fraud.

This feeling about ourselves is common because every person is divided. As Dr. Robert Firestone has described, each of us has a “real self,” a part of us that is self-accepting, goal-directed and life-affirming as well as an “anti-self,” a side of us that is self-hating, self-denying, paranoid and suspicious. The anti-self is expressed in our “critical inner voice.” The critical inner voice is like an internal coach negatively commentating on our lives, influencing how we behave and how we feel about ourselves. It’s there to undermine our goals: “Who do you think you are? You’ll never be successful!” It’s there to undercut our accomplishments: “This won’t end well. Sooner or later you’re going to mess up.” It’s there to sabotage our relationships: “She doesn’t really love you. You shouldn’t trust her.” It’s even there to criticize those close to us: “Why does he even hang out with you? There must be something wrong with him.” Finally, this voice can seem self-soothing, coddling us yet encouraging us to act in ways that our self-destructive, then punishing us for messing up: “Go ahead, have that second piece of cake. You’ve had a rough week you deserve it.” Later, it will fire with comments like: “You’re such a fat loser. How could you mess up on your diet again?”

While it may seem unnatural to view ourselves through this outside lens, we all possess this critical inner voice. For many of us, this thought process is so engrained that we hardly notice when it arises. Instead of recognizing this voice as the destructive enemy that it is, we mistake it for our real point of view, and we believe what it tells us about ourselves.

“I hate myself” is a sadly common critical inner voice that people of all ages struggle with. Where then, do thoughts like these come from? What Dr. Robert and Lisa Firestone have found in their research is that these thoughts originate in negative early life experiences. The way we are viewed growing up and the attitudes directed toward us shape how we see ourselves. Harmful views directed at us by parents or other influential caretakers are internalized to make up our self-image. Just as our parent’s positive attitudes toward us may lead us to develop self-esteem and confidence, their more critical attitudes can promote just the opposite.

The point here is not to blame parents. However, it’s important to realize that no parent, or person for that matter, is perfect. Parents face a difficult struggle when they have children, as painful feelings arise from their own past. They may therefore react inappropriately or critically toward their children in moments of stress. Moreover, the critical feelings parents have toward themselves often come across to their children and are then internalized by the child. For example, if we had a parent who often acted like we were a nuisance, constantly quieting us or even just feeling tense in our presence, we may take on a feeling about ourselves that we are a bother. We may become overly shy or apologetic in our adult lives, quieting ourselves in our careers or taking a submissive position in our relationships.

“How does self-hatred affect my daily life?” – The Effect of Your Critical Inner Voice

As adults, our critical inner voice impacts us in a variety of ways. We may adapt to it by treating it like a coach and listening to its destructive advice. When it repeatedly tells us we are worthless, we may choose friends and partners who treat us as if we are worthless. If it tells us we are stupid, we may lack confidence and make mistakes we wouldn’t make otherwise. If it tells us we aren’t attractive enough, we may resist putting ourselves out there and seeking a romantic relationship.

When we listen to our inner critic, we give it power over our lives. We may even start to project these critical thoughts onto others. We run the risk of starting to perceive the world through its negative filter. This is where paranoid and suspicious thoughts enter the picture, as we start to question or criticize people who see us differently from how our voice sees us. For example, we may struggle with positive acknowledgment or feedback, as it contradicts the ways we perceive ourselves. We may have trouble accepting love, as we fail to challenge our inner critic. While this voice is painful, it is also familiar. It’s been engrained in us since early childhood, and we therefore often struggle just to recognize it, much less challenge it.

“What can I do to stop hating myself?” How You Can Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice

To stop our cycle of self-hatred and live free from imagined limitations, we must learn to challenge our inner critic. Overcoming our critical inner voice is the first step in a process of differentiation described by Dr. Robert and Lisa Firestone in their book The Self Under Siege. The book describes the four steps of differentiation, starting with breaking with the destructive thoughts and attitudes you’ve internalized toward yourself. Voice Therapy is a process that can be used to help people identify and challenge their critical inner voice. The process involves developing insight into the sources of these critical thoughts, then answering back to these attacks with a more compassionate and realistic point of view toward yourself.  The next step is to challenge the destructive behaviors that the critical inner voice encourages you to engage in.

The second step of differentiation involves challenging negative traits in yourself that are imitative of your parents or other important figures in your development.  If you had a bossy or demanding father, for example, you should try to challenge ways that you yourself are controlling in your life. The third step of differentiation involves giving up the patterns of defense you formed as adaptations to the pain you experienced in your childhood. We may have formed these defenses as a form of protection as children, but these thoughts and behaviors can hurt us in our adult lives. For example, if you felt intruded on as a kid, you may have grown up seeking isolation or keeping to yourself for fear that you will be intruded on by others. You may thus avoid close relationships or harbor fears of intimacy. When we hold on to destructive adaptations from our past, we tend to suffer from lower self-esteem. We may struggle to feel like our true selves when our actions are so heavily influenced by our history.

Thus, the final step of differentiation involves figuring out your own beliefs, values and ideals. How do you want to live your life? What are your aspirations for your future? When we separate from our inner critic, we are far better able to get to know our real selves and to lead our lives with integrity. We can take actions and steps that reflect our wants and desires, which gives our lives unique meaning. As we pursue this goal of becoming our true selves, we may experience an increase in anxiety or an influx of critical inner voices. However, if we persist in challenging this internal enemy, it will become weaker and we can free ourselves further from feelings of self-hatred and start to live a more fulfilling existence.

A Webinar with Dr. Lisa Firestone

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Tags: critical inner voice, self-critical thoughts, self-deprecation, self-esteem, self-hate, self-hatred

I hate myself - MHA Screening

Maybe you don’t like the sound of your voice or the way you look. Or maybe you feel like you just can’t do anything right, no matter how hard you try. You might feel like you’re stuck in a downward spiral: the more you hate yourself, the more you mess up, and then you hate yourself even more… So how do you get unstuck?

Why do I hate myself?

It helps if you can identify where the feelings of self-hatred are coming from. There are lots of things that affect the way we feel about ourselves. Here are a few:

  • Extreme self-criticism. A little bit of constructive self-criticism can help you notice your mistakes and correct them. But once it starts making you feel bad about yourself, it’s no longer useful.
  • Unrealistic expectations. If you’re constantly falling short of your expectations, it might be time to reevaluate them. “Lowering your expectations” might sound like a bad thing, but you’re not doing yourself any favors by keep your expectations impossibly high.
  • Comparison. It’s easy to compare your weaknesses with everyone else’s strengths. Sure, you have flaws and have made mistakes… but so has everyone else, including the people you look up to and admire the most.
  • Mistakes from the past. Maybe you’re holding a grudge against yourself for something you did a long time ago. There’s nothing you can do to change the past, but you can learn from it and move forward.
  • Feeling out of place. It’s important to find a group of people who are supportive and appreciate you. This could be a support group, or an online community based on a shared interest.
  • Force of habit. Once you make a habit of talking yourself down, it can be hard to stop. “I hate myself” can sometimes be an intrusive thought—something that just pops into your mind, with no real meaning behind it.

What now?

The first step is to realize that it’s okay to hate yourself. Lots of people do. You might be surprised at the people around you who secretly hate themselves—often it’s people you look up to and love. Hating yourself doesn’t make you a bad person or unworthy of love.

Still, people do tend to become happier as they learn to feel better about themselves. It’s a process and it takes time, but here are a few steps you can take to improve your self-image:

  • Start small. You don’t have to absolutely love yourself right away. Start by having compassion for yourself. Practice being kind to yourself. You don’t have to like someone to be nice to them. You also don’t have to like every single thing about yourself. Start by finding one or two small things that you do like about yourself, and spend more time thinking about those.
  • Don’t define yourself by your flaws or mistakes. Flaws are things you have. Mistakes are things you do. They’re not who you are.
  • Practice positive self-talk. Say positive things about yourself—out loud, just to yourself. If you can’t think of anything, you don’t need to lie—just start small. Maybe you’re not ready to say “I am smart” or “I am beautiful”. But if you’re reading this, you can truthfully say “I am working on myself.” It’s not about where you are, but which direction you’re going.
  • Accept other people’s compliments. When people say nice things about you, don’t argue or roll your eyes. Just say “thank you.” Try to believe that they mean it. Consider why they might have a point. You can add this to your positive self-talk: “So-and-so told me I’m good at…”
  • Improve your mental health. Feelings of self-hatred are a classic symptom of depression. If you treat the underlying depression, your self-image will improve too. Whether you have a mental illness or not, you can use our DIY tools to work on improving your overall mental health.

"I hate everyone, especially children and animals," my adopted daughter told me.

Believe in your children, even in spite of them. A difficult child is a child who is having a hard time.

“If I had such a child, I would have killed him already. And you didn't kill me. And you buy everything for me, and feed me, and don’t give it to an orphanage”


A monster hides behind a cute facade

— I haven’t told you about how we are doing for a long time. Today I'll tell you about my most difficult daughter - the girl Anya. It's time to talk.

We met her many years ago when she was brought back from her foster family. “A very good, sweet girl, foster mother, apparently, embellishes the horrors,” they told me in custody. Two braids, a school dress and a briefcase - this is how she was brought into custody. Straight from school.

Anya is a very nice child, developed, well-read. She has a good memory and a zest for life. It is always interesting with her, she causes sympathy and love. And I fell in love with her from the first days of her life in our family.

But behind a nice facade there was always a huge avalanche of pain from experienced betrayals, from repeated losses. It was as if two personalities had always coexisted in one body - the sweetest child, budding, and the destroying monster.

I talked a little about this, but now the time has come to share with you (with the consent of the heroine herself, and only what she allowed and what she herself is ready to tell).

Possessing intelligence, Anya loved to manipulate - to enter everyone into horror and stupor, subtly and prudently. At the appointment with a psychiatrist, she gave the most incredible reactions, and then, when we walked home, she laughed at how well she had wrapped him around her finger "with his stupid tests."

Lies and manipulations were constant, always, and there was not enough opportunity to understand where it was real.

Is she real when she hugs me and swears her love, or when she says she wants me to die and laughs at my pain?

I studied this for a long time, until I understood - always. And then and then. Two children live in one person - a small child in need of love, and the second, matured early, sipped grief and forced to defend himself, built armor.

And every time she is honest - but only there, in the moment.

Her childish, fragile nervous system could not withstand such a dichotomy and gave an overload. The first year and a half was accompanied by hellish many hours of daily tantrums until she lost consciousness, without the ability to bring her out of this state. With throwing furniture, cutting things, breaking glass.

It was a great happiness that at that time we were given a lot of things, and still she cut them so fast that sometimes I had nothing to take her to school.

In addition to real tantrums, she practiced fictitious ones. They looked like they were real. One day I found a notebook under the bed. There was a plan on how not to go to school:

1. Get up in the morning, throw a tantrum. Yelling and beating everyone hard and for a long time until mom gets tired
2. Go to the room and sit for 3 hours.
3. Go out and ask for water
4. Ask for forgiveness in the evening.

I realized that this is a challenge. Either I will give up and let her not go to school every morning, or…

Needless to say, the next morning I carried her to school literally in my arms, all 42 kilograms, who were screaming and biting all the way?

No, it was not cruelty on my part, as it might seem from the outside. I had to do something to counter the attempts to control me.

And when we entered the school, Anya smiled and calmly went to class, kissing me goodbye. There were no more tantrums in the morning. In total, they lasted about 2 years, then slowly disappeared, at least in their original form, when she screamed until she lost consciousness and threatened to kill everyone, including herself.

This was one of the reasons why I moved into the house - the neighbors looked at me unkindly, and I was very afraid of her threats to leave the window. Here, in the house, you can go out of any whenever you want, without a threat to health.
The tantrums will end not only with pills, but also with my patience, wisdom and consistency. It was terribly difficult to defeat your own monsters.

Any "no" was immediately enforced


Anya hated any form of control, prohibitions, boundaries. But she really wanted to control all of us. Who, where, why. She even scolded me for not wearing a scarf. Sometimes it seemed that I was in the book “Bury Me Behind the Baseboard”, only instead of a grandmother there was a 10-year-old child.

Is it necessary to say that Anya loved no one? “I came into this world to destroy it,” she said. "I hate all people, especially children and animals."

When her pet mouse died, everyone cried except for her. “Well, I’m dead and dead, why are you roaring,” the girl remarked quite calmly.

Everything that was impossible - she violated immediately. Can't meet pedophiles online? Ummm. Interesting, I'll go to a dating site. Can't steal? Ummm. Soooo. Yay, new action. Can't you throw something out the window? Need to try. Is drinking and smoking harmful? The next day, a bottle of cognac disappeared from my father.

Any "no" - enforced at the earliest possible opportunity. Any, generally any prohibition - was violated with the most innocent person in the shortest possible time. I became afraid to ban something.

Theft was the most interesting action.

It was not even theft in your understanding. It was an endless game - to take something that does not belong to you and hide it, throw it away, destroy it, and then watch everyone search and help search.

Every day we all looked for something, every day, many times a day. From toilet brushes to clothes. Any cosmetics, any shampoos, anything you like, something personal - disappeared instantly, and in such a way that in most cases I could suspect anyone except Anya. Even myself is lost.

We had to buy a safe, put locks on all the rooms, but that didn't help either. She managed to clean the room at the moment when you go down to the toilet, forgetting to turn the key.

She also learned how to pick locks. After that, we put cameras in all the rooms, except for hers, so as not to violate personal space. It was stolen both in shops and at a party not bad. But less often. For some reason, the main blow fell on the house.

The house generally had a hard time. Doors and furniture were broken. Sometimes I had to hold her to keep her from hurting herself or other valuables like my work computer.

Once Anya confessed to a psychiatrist that she wanted to burn down the house and even made a fire in her room, but then she changed her mind and put it out. After that, the psychiatrist insistently suggested that we hospitalize Anya. But I couldn't.

I felt, I knew that behind all this ice wall lives a small, frightened, warm kind heart.

But I couldn't break this ice. Sometimes it seemed that now - already. What got better, but it turned out that I just didn’t know something, and Anya is now passionate about a new project of destroying the world. And the projects were one grander than the other. Too bad you can't tell me everything. Just believe.

Yes, I burned out

Photo: depositphotos.com

I felt bad. Sometimes I could not even work and write, because it seemed to me that I had nothing to say to people, nothing to support them, because I myself am a loser. Probably, I have no talent at all, while I can advise something to others. And then I took a vacation.

Many times I have been at the bottom, gained wings and again fallen into the abyss of despair in this endless struggle for control and boundaries. I needed help. I went to a bunch of psychologists, psychiatrists, read a lot of books, attended one hundred or five hundred seminars, completed a bunch of additional courses.

I was already able to help anyone – a lot of people always came to me for consultations. But I couldn't help myself.

And no one could help me - everything was not right. Didn't help. No method, no book. They all explained the nature of the phenomena, but did not give an answer what to do, except for some very general phrases about “building affection” or even something about the fact that “love heals everything.

By the way, I love Anya to the point of unconsciousness. You can write me down as a masochist, but her lively mind, her sense of humor, and even her thoughtful manipulations, cunning, ability to plan and think through any of her actions - admired me. There was no rudeness, there was no stupidity and bullying.

There was a game, an endless game. Like chess, where one moves. The second thinks and walks in response. The game is largely intellectual. And since childhood, I loved intellectual games, riddles. I found the main mystery of my life. I needed to figure out how to melt this ice that bound her heart.

The method that helped

As for the books, I will make, perhaps, one exception. My adored Nancy Thomas, whom I now have the good fortune to know personally, has written a marvelous book. Yes, it is unscientific, there are obvious contradictions to modern scientific views, I will never recommend reading it as a detailed instruction for action.

But I fell in love with it from the first chapters, because there is a lot about me and Anya - about injured children, those who are considered uncontrollable and are returned from foster families. With sympathy and love. I took some practical advice from the book, and they worked.

For example, about the fact that a child should not be punished, but it is necessary to build a system of rules and consequences.

Without threats, violence, punishments of any kind, let alone assault. Only rule and consequence. If - then. With love. And it worked. Slowly, the borders began to return, but the process was slow.

I often got sick from permanent nerves, then Nadya. At some point, Dimka left the house, saying that he could no longer, however, then returned, but disappeared at work even at night, often not coming to spend the night.

This winter, after a short "thaw", it became quite hard - "I will still do what I want." But for several years the girl grew up, and I could no longer hold her, much less take her to school. The doctors insisted on hospitalization and I almost agreed, but at the last moment I decided to make another attempt - I made an appointment with Irina Preobrazhenskaya.

We talked for more than an hour in her office, Anya repeated again that she did not love anyone who came into the world to destroy it. Irina gave us a task, which Anya agreed to, but, leaving the office, she said that she was not going to do stupid tasks of stupid doctors. However, it seems to me that it was Irina Sergeevna who was able to find some special button - Anya was crying, silently and quietly.

The coronavirus broke out and everyone stayed at home. Anya no longer went to school, she was nearby, and the referral to the hospital burned out. I allowed the children to walk not far from the house in the field, alone. One day, after such a walk, she came home. I dozed off on the bed in my bedroom. She knocked on my door and said she really wanted to talk.

— You know, mom, I have such a … discovery. I was just walking in the field and suddenly I realized. I got it. I thought that I do so much shit for you, but you still love me. But why am I doing this? It's just me…

I thought that if I had a child like that, I would have already killed him. And you didn't kill me. And you buy everything for me, and feed it, and don't give it to an orphanage. Please forgive me.

I stood up in surprise. But, I confess, I didn’t really believe it, thinking that this was another plan. She must have thought of something, something is needed. BUT!
Nothing has gone missing since that day.
There was not a single tantrum or manipulation.

She stopped breaking rules and pushing boundaries.
We no longer close our doors and have never used the cameras.
I have gained boundaries. We all have boundaries. We have personal belongings again.

I am happy. It worked. She believed me. At first I was afraid to boast, I was afraid that there would be a rollback, because before there were calms before the storm. But he is not. Yes, she's a teenager, with the usual teenage problems. But Moriarty is dead.

A simple, smart, beautiful girl with a wonderful sense of humor remained. Love love love. Happy. Beautiful spring, even more beautiful summer. We are together, and I, and the children, and Dimka. Peace and tranquility in our house.

Believe in your children, even if you don't. A difficult child is a child who is having a hard time.

Now I have something to say to the world.


“I hate myself”: what is hidden behind self-denial

Self-dislike is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. From the outside it may seem that this is not so, but many people, in fact, deny their own identity, do not accept the real themselves, preferring to hide under various fictitious identities. That is, they create a certain image, play certain socially acceptable roles in life, in which, as it seems to them, others will love them more (or at least hate them less).

My Pretty: Gollum Syndrome

For example, many women struggle to look like good wives and mothers, but in reality they are neither. But realizing that in their true role they will not be accepted by “decent society”, they carefully hide this part of their nature, mask it with a thick layer of “virtue” and continue to hate themselves at the same time. Men, for their part, often embellish their own successes and achievements, internally feeling like failures. But there is an opinion that the true attitude towards oneself is always broadcast to others, read by them on a non-verbal level, therefore, internal rejection is unlikely to meet any other reaction from those who are planned to show off.

Self-negation is also understood as the depreciation of one's strengths. For various reasons, it is easier for a person to be “bad” - as a rule, due to childhood traumas.

“Human consciousness consists of many other people's attitudes – parental, social, teaching, etc. Recently I had a patient at my appointment who all the time spoke about himself in a derogatory tone and called him a fool. I asked who used to call him that all the time as a child, and he remembered that it was his mother. She has been gone for a long time, but he still hears in his head her condemning voice and the word "fool". He voluntarily let into his mind a tyrant and a despot, a hologram of hatred, who continued the work of his mother even after her departure, live and prosper,” says psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, candidate of medical sciences Evgeny Fomin.

Sometimes "characters" in one person can wage a real war among themselves.

“In the film The Lord of the Rings, the character Gollum suffers from a split personality, where one, more cruel, rejects her complete opposite. Such an exaggerated example can depict a situation when a person rejects parts of his personality that for some reason seem unacceptable to him. How often can one hear the terrible (for the psychotherapeutic ear) words: "I hate myself, you stupid, lazy brute." A person unconsciously rejects parts of his personality. Apparently, this is an evolutionary process. In physiology, this can be compared with the process of autoimmune diseases, when the immune system begins to perceive its own tissues as foreign and damages them,” the doctor explains.

A classic example of self-denial is also illustrated by the 2003 French thriller directed by Alexandre Aja, Blood Harvest. In one of the heroines, there are two personalities at the same time, one of which has tender feelings for her classmate, and the second, meanwhile, is trying to eliminate everyone who somehow gets between them. These two subpersonalities are in irreconcilable conflict, perceiving each other as something autonomous and hostile.

However, the cause of self-denial can be not only childhood trauma, but also some significant fail already in adulthood, when a person failed to realize some significant enterprise for him. Such a person cannot come to terms with the role of a loser, since his self-esteem was largely tied to the successful outcome of this case, and from that moment not the most constructive changes may begin in his life - psychosomatics, alcohol abuse and, again, self-hatred.

However, the last “trend” is also rooted in childhood: it was the parents, who constantly demanded feats from their child, who could drive into his head the idea that without significant success on his part, their love is impossible. Therefore, in order to be someone who deserves love in principle, such a person strives to be the best, as if justifying the trust of his parents. If, for some reason, and at some particular time stage, this does not happen, all the same parental attitudes come into play, forcing a person to mix himself with dirt and devalue all past achievements.

Do the impossible

The way out is to love yourself. “As the “enlightened ones” say, love corrects any karma. You need to accept yourself 100%, with all your pluses and minuses, strengths and weaknesses. Man, like the world around him, is dual. White-black, anima-animus, good-evil. I need to recognize and accept my “dark” sides and love myself completely, because if I don’t love myself, why should the others? Evgeny Fomin advises.

However, to many people the very idea seems wild. How to love yourself, if - objectively - it seems that there is no reason? For example, a person may sincerely consider himself stupid and ugly, and, quite possibly, not very handsome and smart in reality. If he begins to suggest to himself in front of a mirror that he is “the most charming and attractive”, the mind will rebel - after all, this is not so. How to be and why love yourself?

“For nothing, just for what is, the way nature created it,” says the expert. – There is a simple exercise that I give to my patients to work out self-love. Stand in front of a mirror, look at your reflection, look into your eyes and say out loud: "I love you." It is difficult, sometimes even very. But over time it will be easier, and a person will definitely feel positive changes in himself. It works! And this exercise is not about persuasion, but about self-acceptance: yes, I am the way I see myself in the mirror, and I still love.

In general, self-rejection is, in most cases, a subjective psychological attitude, the psychotherapist explains. “There are external defects that irritate people and make them hate their appearance. These defects - a crooked nose, a wart on the forehead, or, for example, the genetically inherited disease "cleft lip", as a rule, can be corrected surgically. But people who deny themselves go under the knife with fewer problems, and more often with their complete absence,” the doctor explains.

As a result, the pursuit of perfection becomes an obsession with correcting one's body, bringing it up to the standards of a rapidly changing fashion. “But, unfortunately, even numerous operations do not make such people happy and full-fledged individuals. Over time, this behavior moves towards greater psychiatry and falls under the mental disorder "dysmorphophobia" - concern about imaginary defects in one's body and physical rejection of oneself. A year ago, I met Nick Vujicic, a man who was born without arms and legs. I have never met a more complete and self-sufficient person in my life. His life was harder than life 99% of people on the planet. By all the laws of the genre, he should have turned into a depressive invalid, but he found the strength in himself to love himself for who he is and make people treat him the same way. He started a family, performs with motivational trainings around the world, sings songs and records videos. Despite the long 12-hour flight and transfers, at the end of our conversation he smiled and offered to hug him. This filled me with joy and confidence that most of the anxieties and anxieties of people, including myself, are completely far-fetched, ”summed up the psychotherapist.

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