If the title of this article catches your attention, you wonder how it is possible for someone to come to hate himself, you have to know that you are in a clear minority. I guess you’re surprised because you’ve never felt it. However, the reality is that self-hatred is a widespread feeling in our society, as noted by psychologist Robert Firestone and his daughter Lisa, also a psychologist.

It is true that most of the time we prefer to use euphemisms or less strong expressions such as low self-esteem or bad self-concept to refer to that animosity that we have against ourselves, but these researchers say that most people, on occasion, are felt a strong hatred for himself and that, in general, we treat ourselves very badly.

If we take into account a large number of exaggeratedly self-critical thoughts that come to mind each day, it is easy to understand to what extent the phrase “you can be your worst enemy” reflects reality. This flood of overly self-critical thoughts limits us in all areas of our lives: it undermines our confidence and sabotages our relationships, ruins our professional career, boycotts our projects …

According to a study on 3,000 girls between the ages of 8 and 17 in the United States, seven out of ten teenage girls believe they don’t measure themselves up as students, feel that they have disappointed their parents or deeply dislike their bodies.

This study also found that three out of every four girls with a low self-concept ended up materializing that anger they felt because of their disagreement with their appearance, physical or family relationships in eating disorders, self-harm, bullying, alcohol or drug use.

The discouraging “I hate myself” and the inner critical voice

One might think that this extremely critical thought with oneself is typical of adolescence, a time of great biological and psychological changes. However, as a result of the researches work with women and men of all ages and diverse backgrounds. Psychologists Lisa and Robert Firestone have come to the conclusion that most people have a very negative perception of some aspect of their life.

The list of cruel self-criticisms is usually long: “I’m fat,” “I’m a fraud in my job,” “I’m not a person to trust,” “I’m not honest if there’s money involved,” “I do not like my face “,” I hate my life “,” I hate myself with all my soul “, etc.

Even people who enjoy recognition in their work and social environment, who have a good image among their friends and who maintain a healthy relationship with their family and their partner, harbor very hard self-critical thoughts.

Therefore, the recurrent “I hate” thinking is more common than you think. In addition, these negative beliefs of oneself do not diminish as we get older, but remain throughout our lives.

For the Firestone doctors, in the interior of every person live a “real me”, which has its origin in the acceptance of oneself, and an “anti-self”, which feeds on what one rejects of oneself. This “anti-self” is manifested through an “inner critical voice” that is dedicated to discourage us in any activity that we want to carry out.

This inner critical voice is manipulative and tries to influence us negatively in all our experiences. If we intend to achieve a personal or professional goal, the inner critical voice will repeat to us with cries: “You will not achieve it, you are not worth enough to achieve it”.

If we achieve our goal, the critical voice will continue to try to demoralize us: “This can’t last long. Surely, in the end, everything will go wrong. ” If any person shows affection for us, our ‘friendly’ inner enemy will not cease to discourage us: “This person can’t go with good intentions. Why should I notice you? How will you fall in love with you if you do not excel at anything! ”

As this inner critical voice acts as a tireless buzzer and is so embedded in our thinking, many of us come to believe that it is describing the objective reality and accept uncritically the ideas that are recorded in our minds by force of repeating them.

Why do I hate myself?

This feeling of hatred against oneself originates in the experiences of rejection experienced in our emotional ties, especially childhood. The way a person treats himself comes mainly from two influences:

1.How parents or other influential caregivers saw us in childhood

Our self-perception is very influenced by how our parents or other very close people saw us, we depended on them in the first years of life. The human being learns to see himself and to be treated as he was seen and treated in the first moments. Thus, if their attitudes towards us were of rejection, we will similarly construct the image that we have of ourselves since the negative attitudes directed against the children end up being internalized by them.

On the contrary, the healthy and reinforcing attitudes to which we were exposed during the first years of our lives by our parents and caregivers are strengthened our self-esteem and confidence in ourselves.

Imagine, for example, that our mother, stressed by a lot of obligations as a housewife and worker outside the home, had little patience and told us often: “I’m always late for you, can’t you hurry up “,” You are a very lazy child “. Phrases that would probably be accompanied by sighs of annoyance and looks of disappointment. Surely this perception of oneself as lazy or useless would be emotionally processed as such by the child.

If, for example, as a reaction to our antics, our father shouted at us out of himself: “You are very bad, the worst, you only make me suffer!”; Most likely this is what one would put into your mind, that you are a bad person, that you do not deserve to be loved by another.

Because it is almost impossible that, as a child, one should realize that parental anger had more to do with the fact that our father had been tired of work and was frustrated by an overbearing boss.

Of course, it is not about looking for guilt at this point. Being a parent or educator is extremely difficult. The important thing is to realize the children’s experiences that are conditioning our present as adults and, as far as possible, to fix those emotional wounds of childhood. It is precisely our inner critical voice that is nourished by all these harmful experiences is that, in one way or another, reminds us constantly.

2.How our parents or other influential caregivers saw themselves

The attitudes of the parents themselves to themselves are also transmitted to the children. Although many adults tend to think that children are busy with their games and do not realize how their parents feel, the reality is that children do feel very much affected by the way their parents refer to themselves.

In the study on low self-esteem adolescents cited above, more than half of the girls confessed that they had a mother who criticized herself very often and harshly. When a parent tell of himself that he feels unsuccessful, that he is not satisfied with his own life or looks in the mirror with disgust, what he is doing is serving as a model (“I hate myself”) in the way his children leave to perceive themselves in the future.

How hatred of yourself conditions your life?

If a person has internalized that is not worthy of being loved by another, because this was made by the people on whom he depended affectionately on his childhood (”no one will love you”), it is very likely that, in an unintentional way and Person tends to look for couples who do not value him and who even humiliate him. This is why ‘self-fulfilling prophecy occurs:” they don’t love you, they annoy you or they mistreat you, because you’re worthless,” our inner critical voice will whisper in our ear.

There are more: after a few bad love experiences, our inner critical voice will try to dissuade us from knowing someone who loves us and with whom we share our life. “You will be much better alone. If all men/women are equal etc.

And there will be our inner critical voice to undermine our confidence every time we meet someone. Even if one follows the dictates of the inner critical voice and secludes himself at home and isolates himself from others, our “dear” enemy will not waste any opportunity to slander us: “You are alone. You have no real friend or anyone who loves you. You are a real failure. ”

The inner critical voice is powerful and, if we do not tie it in short, it will not stop until it completely undermines our self-esteem and boycotts our affective, work and social life.

How to stop hating yourself

To free ourselves from that inner critical voice that tries to trip us up as soon as you have  a chance, psychologists Lisa and Robert Firestone propose in their works ”The Self under siege and Conquer your critical inner voice” a four-stage plan that will lead us to stop hating ourselves and start accepting us. The four steps to differentiate ourselves from our inner critical voice and break with them are the following:

# 1 .- Understand why I hate myself and how I have internalized this negative thought

The first step is to realize that you are not your inner critical voice. Actually, we have to consider it with an alien that the most negative experiences of our childhood and that we did not learn to assimilate because of our young age have embedded us inside. But we are not our inner critical voice. it is ruthless, spiteful and manipulative.

And it wants the worst  for us. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what is the origin of the discouraging “I hate myself” and those other negative thoughts, and what events were feeding them. Likewise, it is important to challenge our inner critical voice and resist the self-destructive or risky behavior that drives us to perform.

# 2.- Recognize which are the negative models that we have followed without realizing

To differentiate ourselves from it, we need to recognize in the echoes of our critical voice what negative and harmful attitudes we have copied from our parents or caregivers on whom we depended in our childhood. If we do not do this work of personal introspection and do not try to dislodge that odious creature from our mind, it is very possible that our inner critical voice also tries to extend its long tentacles and its harmful effect impacts on our own children, so that the cycle of self-hatred is fed back from generation to generation.

Suppose that our influential father, mother or caregiver had a very authoritarian and demanding character in all areas (academic, sports, behavioral, etc.) so that he could achieve what one achieved was always insufficient.  In this case, it would be necessary for one to assess to what extent self-demand is reasonable or is a form of torturing oneself that has been internalized in an uncritical manner.

In this case the animosity towards oneself (so destructive “I hate myself”) would come from a great feeling of frustration at not achieving (because it is impossible) unattainable expectations that have imposed us and we have done ours without assessing our possibilities of a realistic way Likewise, one will hate oneself for not being as it should be to be loved by the people to whom we have given them a relevant affective role.

In the same way, it would be positive to analyze if those imposed authoritarian attitudes have been reproduced faithfully in the education of the children or if on the contrary, they have led us to an absolutely opposite education model, in which everything has been consented to the children. In any case, the key question is: is my true self or is my critical voice who is taking control of my life?

3.- Recognize the defense mechanisms that we have arming against emotional damage

Sometimes our inability to adequately assimilate the rejection experienced in our emotional ties, especially the father or mother, can lead us to hate ourselves as a reaction to the hatred we feel for them. And this is so because human beings often choose to direct against ourselves the aggressiveness we have against others. That “I hate myself with all my strength” is actually a “hatred of my parents”, which remains repressed.

Other times, the experiences of rejection that we have not been able to process emotionally may have led us to build an entire protection strategy that dominates our lives. Thus, for example, if we have felt handicapped by the excessive control of our parents or influential caregivers, it is very common for adults to flee from all sentimental commitment and to feel more comfortable isolated from others. In this sense, it would be good to ask: to what extent isolation and solitude have been chosen by me?

# 4. – Find your own values that give meaning to your life

Once we have identified our inner critical voice, that we have understood, without guilt , how our relationships with our parents and other significant persons have been, and what our defense mechanisms have been, we need to take a final step: what do we want? for our own life? How do we want to live?

As long as we get rid of our inner critical voice and the incessant destructive bombardment of “I hate” and “I hate my life,” we will be closer to knowing our true self. And if we respond to ourselves, honestly and sincerely, about how we want to live our life, it will be easier to decide what actions we have to take. From that moment and that decision, we can stop feeling hatred for ourselves and live a fuller life.

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