The first step: I recognized that I was stuck in patterns of perfectionism and self-hate and that this was no way to live.
This is the second post in a series of posts about overcoming self-hate a problem which a lot of people struggle with. You can read an introduction to the series here.
Self-Hate and Self-Love
If we want to understand how to overcome self-hate and develop self-love, it is helpful to know what self-hate is. Self-hate is often an automatic response to an inability to love ourselves. People in general are pretty bad at loving themselves authentically. Certainly we are often good at being selfish, narcissistic, and egocentric, but these are not forms of authentic self-love.
Authentic self-love is the ability to show ourselves respect, kindness, compassion to nurture the good in us (the Wise Self) and to heal the wounded and diseased parts of us (the Wounded Self). We all have both of these parts.
Authentic self-love heals both ourselves and others because it teaches us to value the unconditional dignity and worth of human beings. This automatically leads us to honor the dignity and worth of every other human being.
Why is Self-Love So Hard?
Developing self-love can be really difficult. It requires that we respect and accept ourselves unconditionally because of our intrinsic value, and we receive all sorts of messages on a constant basis telling us either that we have no worth at all or that our worth is based on extrinsic standards.
For instance, bullies and abusers often try to convince people that they have no worth. Exploitative advertisers, economic systems, distorted religious institutions, or other institutions might try to convince people that they have no worth unless they buy a certain product, earn a certain amount of money, believe a certain thing, etc–i.e. unless they meet an external standard.
All of these pressures make it hard to love ourselves and much more easy to hate ourselves. Self-love can become even more difficult when we see our failures and mistakes (that are a normal part of being human) and do not know how to deal with them effectively.
Most of us experience self-hate at one point or another, but for some of us, it can become a constant habit or a coping mechanism we use to bully ourselves into being good enough to deserve love.
The first step to recovering from self-hate is to realize how much we suffer from it and how much it pervades our life. Often, we do not even realize that we are stuck in patterns of self-hate. Sometimes, in fact, our self-hate masquerades as good behavior.
Only you can figure out if you truly struggle with self-hate, but here are some signs that you might struggle with it:
You are extremely hard on yourself and are a constant perfectionist.
You try to control your life all the time and, perhaps, the lives of the people around you as well.
Failure is generally unacceptable to you.
You constantly worry that you are not good enough in some or many ways.
You feel like you have to earn love by doing or being more.
Criticism is unbearable to you.
You constantly feel ashamed or embarrassed for normal mistakes or for no real reason at all.
You are constantly cruel, mean, and/or picky towards other people and this is largely because you feel really bad about yourself, and you are taking it out on them or trying to make yourself feel better by pointing out people’s flaws.
When we have been caught up in patterns of self-hate for a while, it can be hard to let go of them.
Therefore, the first step in recovering from self-hate is to recognize our patterns for what they are and to realize that we do not really understand how to love ourselves.
Once we realize this and understand this, we can work on the next step, which is remembering love.
You can read more below:
Are you exhibiting any of the above patterns of self-hate and self-loathing? Do you have a clear idea of how to love yourself in a way that heals your pain and leads to greater love for others?