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Self Loathing: What It Is, 25 Signs & How to Stop Hurting Yourself

Hating or loathing yourself robs you of your happiness. Learn to recognize the signs and how to stop self-loathing to look forward to a brighter future.

Are You Self-Loathing

We all go through periods when we don’t like something about ourselves, but when your thoughts turn to self-loathing, it’s time for action. But what is self-loathing, how can you stop it, and how do you read the signs? Well, here’s everything you need.

What is self-loathing?

Self-loathing is when you do not like yourself at all. It could be anywhere along the scale from general dislike to severe hatred. You struggle to come up with anything good about yourself and have a negative mindset as a result.

Self-loathing is a dark cloud to walk under, but it’s entirely by choice.

You can choose to love yourself. You can choose to see your plus points, but you do need to put in a little time and effort to retrain your brain towards the positives.

What does self-loathing feel like?

Self-loathing is a real affliction. Of course, we’re all a little negative from time to time, but most of us can pull ourselves out of it and try and look on the bright side.

On the other hand, self-loathing is pretty serious and can prevent you from achieving your goals and dreams.

There’s this feeling of heaviness and worthlessness hanging over you. Even if you do something right, it was only a fluke. Of course, you couldn’t have done something positive. You’re a failure at everything you touch, right? Well, we all know that’s wrong. Even you, deep down, know that’s not right.

But you need to understand that the human brain is biased towards negativity in general, which is why you’ll normally see the downside of something before the good. However, it is possible to train your brain to be more positive overall.

Despite that, some people simply can’t see the bright side of anything, and much of it is down to the way they see themselves.

[Read: How to think positive and reprogram your mind to stay positive]

How do you feel about the person you are?

Try to answer these three questions right now:

1. Do you like yourself?

2. Can you list five of your good qualities right now?

3. Do you see the glass as half full rather than half empty?

If you can agree in a positive way to the above questions, you’re good. However, if you’re struggling with those questions, it’s time to take action and turn your life around.

If you can’t come up with any good qualities about yourself when put on the spot and you have a demeanor that enjoys criticizing yourself instead of patting yourself on the back, it could very well be that you have a self-loathing problem to deal with. [Read: How to stop hating yourself and learn to love yourself more]

The subtle but dark signs of self loathing to keep an eye on

There are moments where we’ve all experienced the signs below, but what really counts is the frequency of these feelings.

If you’re feeling worthless, stupid, and pathetic every single day, well, then this is something serious.

But if you made a mistake and feel stupid, but get over it within a couple of hours or after a good night’s sleep, then this is something most of us experience. [Read: Sabotaging your happiness – 12 ways you’re ruining your own life]

If you think your feelings lean on self-loathing, it’s time you identified them and treated them. Because the reality is you are good enough.

Let’s get through the self-hate and learn some self-love.

We should point out that just because you agree with one sign, doesn’t mean you actually have a problem. Everyone struggles with confidence from time to time. If you can nod your head at one sign of self-loathing, it’s not a cause for alarm.

However, if you agree with several, start turning your attention to doing something about it.

[Read: 17 ways to focus on yourself and make your own sunshine]

1. You compare yourself to others

Do you always compare yourself to other people? Most of us do from time to time. If you do it constantly and always come up short, that is a true sign of self-loathing. Everyone is different. We all have our plus points and our downsides, we all have good days and bad days, but we’re unique and we’re not supposed to be the same as anyone else.

Social media is a huge problem for feeding self-loathing, so perhaps limiting your exposure to Facebook and Instagram, in particular, might be a good idea while you work on loving yourself a little more.

2. You feel like the victim

We all have moments when we think to ourselves, why me? And yes, it’s okay to have those moments, but there’s a fine line between a little self-pity and self-loathing. When something doesn’t work out, immediately, you feel victimized. Feeling like a victim will not help you progress.

3. You’re generally negative

Negativity comes to us all from time to time, but if you’re hardly ever positive, or if you’re never positive, self-loathing could become a huge problem for you. It’s hard to love yourself when you’re constantly looking on the dark side.

Try reframing, a successful cognitive behavioral therapy technique. This involves taking a negative thought and replacing it with a positive one, repeating it and waiting for it to stick. [Read: How to stop self-destructive behavior and change your life for good]

4. You’re always saying “sorry” 

If you find yourself apologizing constantly, you’re either extremely polite, Canadian, or you have a problem with how you see yourself.  You do not have to apologize for everything, especially if it wasn’t your fault!

Before you say that word, assess quickly in your mind whether you really have anything to be sorry for in the first place. The more you say it, the more it sets in your mind and gives you the feeling of blame. This leads to guilt, and you have nothing to be guilty for! Guilt and self-loathing work together hand in hand.

A strong sign of self-loathing is the need to apologize for things that are out of your control. Though it sounds like a small thing, when you apologize for every little thing, it reduces your value and makes you look insecure. [Read: How to overcome insecurity and reclaim power in your life]

5. You sabotage your relationships

Maybe you started dating an amazing person or made a new friend, but instead of nourishing the relationship, you intentionally ruin it or sabotage it. You don’t want people to get too close to you.

Why? Because you’d rather end a relationship yourself than be surprised if they decide to end it. [Read: How to be emotionally stable and find your zone of calmness]

6. When someone is moody, you assume it’s because of you

If your partner is quiet or in a bit of a mood, you might assume at first that it’s something you’ve done. You might ask them if they’re angry at you, ask them what you’ve done, or constantly ask them what’s wrong.

The reality is they’ve woken up in a bad mood and nothing else is particularly wrong! You need to stop feeling like your behavior or words are the only reason for someone’s negative attitude towards you.

7. You use social media to receive validation

We’re all guilty of this, to be honest. We want other people to think we’re attractive, funny, and smart.

When it comes to social media, the feelings of validation are enhanced, as we continue to chase attention and likes. Though you may think social media is giving you a self-esteem boost, it’s doing the opposite. 

It’s leaving you reliant on social media algorithms and other people’s whims. You don’t control your own happiness, and leave all of it to the clicks of random strangers or friends living their own lives. And what starts off as a fun pastime turns into something that feeds your self-loathing. [Read: Social media addiction – The 16 signs and the fastest ways to break out]

8. You have low expectations

Do you follow this ideology of setting the bar low for everyone else but you? “I set my expectations low so I don’t get hurt?”

Setting low goals for yourself or the people around you doesn’t stop you from getting hurt. You’re not honest with yourself, and by setting low expectations, you’re saying to yourself that you’re not worthy.

9. Your main motivational tool is tough love

When you inspire other people, you use the tough love approach. Your parents or grandparents may have used that approach, but it’s outdated. Being hard on yourself may be seen as a motivating factor, but in reality, you’re reducing your self-esteem and creating self-doubt. [Read: How to let go of the past and be excited by the future]

If you’ve hardly ever been kind to yourself, if you’re always telling yourself that you’re not enough, that you need to try harder, do more, push more, then you’re using tough love as your main tool for motivation.

Some people react well to tough love, but not all the time! We need to be kind to ourselves occasionally. Assess whether this is something you do and then tweak your approach by complimenting yourself on the thing you’ve done well and improving the things you could do better on. [Read: The best inspirational movies for when your motivation lags]

10. You always have to ask for validation or the opinion of someone else

If you never feel good about anything unless someone else has given you permission to do so, e.g. validation, then that is a sign of self-loathing.

You have your own opinions and views. They’re just as worthy as anyone else’s. You don’t need someone to tell you that you look nice in order to feel good about your outfit and the way you look. Your opinion is enough!

11. You always deflect compliments and assume people don’t mean them

People don’t give compliments for the hell of it. They give them because they mean them and want to tell you something nice! If you’re always deflecting comments with humor or a self-deprecating remark, and you assume that they don’t mean what they’re saying, you have a problem with self-loathing.

Try listening to them and taking the compliment for a change. Rather than coming back with a humorous remark, simply say “thank you” and smile. You’ll soon see small changes to your attitude on compliments. [Read: How to respond to a compliment and accept it without feeling awkward]

12. You’re scared to experience love

When you’re self-loathing, you assume no one would ever love you. And even if they did at first, they wouldn’t stick around. So instead of giving it a real shot, you take a step back yourself because, hey, they’re going to leave you anyway, right?

No one said falling in love was easy… it’s terrifying! You’re opening yourself up to someone without knowing what will happen. Rather than diving in, you’re scared to fall in love because you feel flawed and imperfect. The good thing is that everyone is flawed; you’re not alone.

13. You isolate yourself

Wanting to stay at home doesn’t mean you’re self-loathing. But if you experience other signs of self-loathing plus the need to isolate yourself, it is a sign of self-loathing. You stay away from social events, and if you are invited out, you feel it was done from pity.

14. Defeatism

You frequently have negative thoughts about yourself. “There’s no point, I’m never going to make it,” or “I suck at this,” or “This will never work out for me,” are some examples of defeatism.

Talking to yourself as though you’ve already failed are serious signs of self-loathing, and something you to reconsider. [Read: How to stop hating yourself and learn to love all of yourself]

15. You don’t often try new things, assuming they will go wrong

If you want to do things but you stop yourself because you assume it won’t work or it will go wrong, that could be another sign of self-loathing.

You basically don’t have the confidence in yourself to give something a try and see what happens. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll fail. Either way, you tried and you might have learned something in the process. Just go with it. If you want to try something, do it and see what happens! The more you do it, the easier it will get! [Read: 15 little changes to be someone who always says, I love my life!]

16. You focus on the times you were wrong

We all make mistakes, but you only focus on those moments. In reality, you also make many good decisions; you’re still alive and breathing, right?

You can’t be right all the time, and there will be occasions where it’s going to bite you in the butt. But that’s the thing about life; you can’t always be on a high. [Read: Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of failure]

17. Drugs and/or alcohol abuse

When you experience self-loathing, it can be hard to emotionally accept yourself as a failure *which you’re not; this is only in your mind*. Self-loathing can push people to use drugs and alcohol as a way to handle their feelings of shame and hurt. [Read: How to gain confidence and turn your life around for the better]

18. You’re jealous of others

You constantly think about how other people are better than you. By doing this, you put yourself down and prevent yourself from accomplishing your dreams and goals. You’re not the same as the people around you, and vice versa. Stop comparing yourself to them.

Signs of Self-Loathing

How to break the cycle of self-loathing

Self-loathing is a huge problem. It can affect the quality of your life in a massive way. We all deserve to feel good and live our best lives. 

Learning to love yourself and breaking the cycle of self-loathing isn’t easy, but with time it can be done. Changing your mindset towards the positive is a vital part of the puzzle. Follow the advice to help you make small changes. Baby steps will get you there, but don’t expect miracles overnight.

[Read: How to take positive steps when you find out you’re self-loathing]

How to stop self-loathing

We’re not suggesting that learning how to stop self-loathing is easy. It completely depends upon the reason why you feel this way. Have you experienced trauma in your life? Do you have very deep-rooted experiences which date back to childhood? Do you have body image problems that force you to compare yourself to others?

These are all reasons which can sometimes force a person to have a very negative relationship with the most important person in their lives – themselves.

Do you regularly compare yourself to other people? When you look in the mirror, do you despise what you see? Do you pull yourself down, yet do your best to pull other people up?

Unfortunately, self-loathing is a common element of the modern day. Living with it isn’t an option. When you fail to love yourself and fail to see how wonderful you truly are, faults and all, it’s impossible to really live a fulfilling life.

Only when you shed the layers of self-loathing and open your eyes to the wonder and beauty of not only yourself, but life, can you really live with total abandon.

[Read: How to hone and increase your positive emotions in a negative world]

The 7 easiest steps to learn how to stop self-loathing

The good news is that over time and with plenty of effort, self-loathing can be conquered. Nobody said it would be easy. It will be worth it.

1. Work out what causes you to feel this way

It’s possible that you don’t experience self-loathing 24/7. It’s quite likely that much of the time you feel okay. In that case, what triggers trap you in self-loathing?

A good way to identify these triggers is to keep a journal. No, you don’t have to go back to your teenage years of documenting your entire life.

Simply keep notes on how you feel and what causes you to experience those feelings, e.g. what was happening around the time you experienced them. After a few weeks, you’ll notice patterns that will give you some clues on what action to take. [Read: These 14 easy mantras will help you transform your life]

2. Learn to question negativity

Why does negativity have to win? Sure, the human brain is hardwired to be negative as a default setting, but it doesn’t have to win out every time. A good way to learn how to stop self-loathing is to identify when a thought you’re having is negative.

Challenge it and reframe it into something positive. The more you repeat this process, the more positive you will become naturally. When that’s the case, self-loathing will become a thing of the distinct past. [Read: How to stop having negative thoughts that drag you down]

3. Understand that self loathing isn’t fact

Self-loathing loses its power when you realize that the negative talk you tell yourself isn’t actually a proven fact. It’s a feeling and all feeling ebbs and flows and then eventually drift away. That means that any thought you have which is attached to self-loathing will also ebb and flow and drift away.

The problem is, it is normally replaced by another. In this case, part of learning how to stop self-loathing is taking its power away by understanding the difference between truth and feelings. [Read: Feeling unlovable? 12 life-changing truths you need to know]

4. Spend time doing things you truly enjoy

Do you like going for long walks in the countryside? Do you love watching old movies? Does baking make you happy? Do you love video games? Work out what you enjoy doing and do more of it!

If you can factor in some sporting activities into that to get more exercise and get your body moving, all the better! The more time you spend smiling and feeling good within yourself, the harder it will be for self-loathing to take a hold and cause any major effect.

5. Identify the happy people in your life

Look at your social circle, who are the people who are always smiling and who make you feel good? Spend more time with them!

Positivity is truly infectious, so if you find that there is one person in your life who makes you feel good, someone who makes you laugh, and who you always feel better around, ask them if they want to do something or spend time chilling out. [Read: 20 habits of incredibly happy people that can teach you more about happiness]

If you feel close enough to that person, you can also explain your reasons for asking; if they’re a good friend they’ll certainly oblige, and this is one of the best ways to learn how to stop self-loathing… build up a strong support network. [Read: How to deal with the attitude of a Negative Nancy]

6. Be kind to yourself

If you’re stuck in a habit of self-loathing, you’re probably rather unkind to yourself but pretty kind to everyone else around you. Ask yourself why. Why do other people deserve kindness and compassion, but you feel you don’t?

Have you done something terrible which causes you to be unworthy of happiness and love? No! So, turn the compassion you give to other people inwards and give it back to yourself.

How? By spending time doing the things you love, or simply identifying when you’re being hard on yourself and saying “no! I don’t deserve that,” and then reframing it to something kind and compassionate.

7. Talk it out

Never underestimate the power of speaking about your emotions. When you talk about how you feel, the problem doesn’t hold the same power over you.

You can unpick the situation and make sense of it. When you keep everything in your head, it takes up too much space and becomes muddled. It’s hard to think straight when your brain is full of noise and muddle!

By talking things through, either with someone you trust, someone impartial, or a therapist if you feel you need to, you’ll find a far clearer picture coming your way.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Admitting that you’re struggling and that you want to learn how to stop self-loathing is one of the bravest and most powerful things you could possibly do. [Read: The signs an unhappy person is living behind a happy smile]

Self-loathing in a cruel world

Of course, we live in a world that isn’t particularly kind. In that case, it can be hard to understand why you deserve kindness when everyone else is being cruel. The bottom line, humanity has forgotten what it is to be human. To be human is to be loving and kind to those around us and to give ourselves the same love and attention back.

It’s not possible to be happy in a situation where you’re constantly pulling yourself down. How can you expect to go for the opportunities you want in life or do the things you dream of? How can you expect to attract love into your life if you can’t love yourself?

The journey away from self-loathing and towards self-love can be long for some people, depending upon the deeper cause. But long doesn’t mean impossible.

[Read: Here’s how to stop hating yourself and learn to love yourself instead]

Learning how to stop self-loathing is something you should focus on right now. Use these signs, ask yourself the tough questions, and do not waste a second more of your time disliking yourself or wishing you were someone else.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...