How To Stop Hating Yourself For Things You Can't Control

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I Hate Myself: How To Stop Hating Yourself & Combat Self-Loathing

I don’t think there is a human on this planet who doesn’t put themselves through some form of self-criticism.

We all have a gauge to our sense of self, a personal navigator that let's us know when we might be stepping out of line or making a complete fool of ourselves.

Self-hate, however, is an intense, loud, and frequently obnoxious inner critic I often refer to the mean inner mean girl (or guy) inside of your head.

Your inner critic lives there and is always ready to let you know when you’ve messed up, when you’re not measuring up, and when you’re just downright not good enough — screaming at your so loudly it rings through your whole being.

"I hate myself!"

Self-loathing is a pervasive problem in our society. You wouldn’t know it just walking around, but internally, most people who haven't learned the art of self-love are under a cloud of shame, hating themselves for things they cannot control.

To learn how to stop hating yourself, it's critical to identify where your own inner critic comes from.

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From my perspective as a psychologist, I can tell you that your own self-loathing most likely originated during your early childhood. Your early life experiences set the stage, for better or for worse, creating fertile ground for its arrival.

According to Dr. Lisa Firestone and Joyce Catlett in their book "Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice," the cause of most self-hatred lies in the past, when the quality of your early attachments with primary caregivers created beliefs about yourself.

They go on to say that children have experiences which create negative beliefs and bad feelings about themselves, potentially leading them to think they simply aren't good enough in any way. Most parents don’t intend to instill such negative beliefs in their children, but parents are human and, as such, have their own set of dark emotions, past traumas, and negative beliefs that come out to play in their daily lives.

In addition to this type of unintentional harm, there is also intentionally inflicted abuse and trauma children may experience, leaving them racked with feelings of guilt, believing these things they were subjected to must have been their own fault. When that trauma is left unresolved and unprocessed, these kids carry that shame into adulthood — where that inner critic known as self-loathing has a field day.

Once your inner critic has access to your brain, it likes to make itself at home. It may even take up residence there, maintaining a soft lull in your mind, even on your best days. And certain triggers can cause your hyper-critical self-loathing to grow louder and be more intrusive.

Common triggers of self-loathing include:

  • Comparison

When you compare yourself to anyone else, no matter what the circumstances, your inner critic will project its voice to the back of the rafters. Whether it's social media, your co-workers, family members, neighbors, or close friends, comparing is the kiss of death to your self-worth.

  • Memories or mentions of your past mistakes

If you are human, then you’ve made mistakes in your life. When you continue judging your past mistakes and attaching your identity to them, your self-loathing wins.

  • Past trauma

Your past wounds often get attached to your perception of your self-worth. Self-blame is common, leaving you burdened with shame. People often feel this type of guilt because it's often easier to blame yourself than to find or hold others accountable. So in essence, self-blame is an attempt to regain a sense of control, because, if you’re at fault, you can try to control yourself and your circumstances to make sure the horrible thing that happened to you never happens again. If you hold others accountable, you might feel more vulnerable and at greater risk of repeated trauma.

  • Energy expended on people pleasing

Have you ever wondered why people-pleasing is so exhausting? It’s because you're putting your energy into making everyone else happy despite the fact that you simply can't control what others think or feel. Other people’s happiness is completely out of your control, yet you spend minutes, hours and days attempting to make everyone happy. Kind of silly, isn’t it?

  • Perfectionism

If this isn’t the biggest trigger for your self-hatred to rage, I don’t know what is. Being a recovered perfectionist myself, it still amazes me how much time, effort, and emotional toll it takes to be perfect. High expectations are ripe material for your inner critic to attack. Even if you’ve attained some level of perfection at some point in your life, now you must maintain, right? It’s a cycle that never gets satisfied. You hate yourself for not being able to do something that is completely out of your hands, no matter how hard you try.

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Now that you have a good idea of how your feelings of self-loathing got into your head, as well as what keeps them around, let's move on to what you can do to make them go away.

If you want to stop hating yourself, follow these 5 tips on how to combat self-loathing:

1. Be aware of your self-loathing inner voice.

It may sound like you, but that's only a disguise. It will hide and pretend to be you, but in truth, this is your worst enemy. A good defense knows the opponent’s offense, so learn to recognize the difference between that hyper-critical voice and your own.

2. Be accepting of who you are.

This starts with creating a list of your intrinsic worth and qualities.

These are not based on anything external, like your weight, your appearance, your job, your bank account, or even the car you drive. Your list list should be strictly based on who you are inside.

Are you kind, compassionate, generous, funny? Take a hard look at who you really are, how you’re wired, and what gives you energy. This is who you are and how you’re uniquely created. No one can take these qualities away from you.

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3. Forgive others, as well as yourself, for past wrongs and regrets.

This is where you may need some added support or assistance.

A close friend, a trusted faith-based guide, or a therapist can help guide you in letting go of the past so you can free yourself to move on.

4. Recognize that self-compassion is a must.

It is the antidote to shame and perfection. If you can start to see yourself as your own BFF (Best Friend Forever), then you can stop hating yourself.

5. Know that, wonderful as you are, you are not perfect and cannot control the world or people around you.

You must learn to acknowledge and accept what you can and cannot control. Put your energy into what you can control and release what you can't.

It’s time to humbly embrace your humanness and let the rest go.

The epidemic of self-loathing must stop. You must learn how to stop hating yourself, especially for things you can't control.

You can only truly control yourself. You get to decide who you want to be and how you want to treat others. How others see you and what others choose to do with their lives are not in your control and neither is your responsibility.

You can't control 99 percent of the things going on around you. Doing the math, you can see that means you can only really control one percent of anything you encounter in this life.

For some of you, this will bring great sense of relief. For others, it will trigger anxiety and a need to hold on even tighter.

You can hold on tighter if you wish; that's your choice.

Just know that your self-hated and self-loathing will only get worse over time. It’s self-defeating to hate yourself for things you cannot control.

You are human. You deserve the same compassion you generously give to others.

It might take some time to make this stick, but you can learn to let go and enjoy the life you are meant to live — a life filled with self-compassion and love.

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Lesley Goth, PsyD, runs a private practice in Broomfield, CO, where she specializes in treating PTSD and Complex-PTSD, helping people process their self-loathing and find freedom in their lives. If you’d like more information, visit her website.