How to Stop Hating Yourself: 10 Ideas that Have Worked for Others

how to stop hating yourself

How to stop hating yourself? When you read the title of this post, did you say to yourself, “Yeah, ideas that worked for others but nothing works for me? That’s how bad I suck!”

Hell, I said it to myself just now and I’m the one claiming to know how to help YOU stop hating yourself. Well, I don’t hate myself anymore but old brain habits die hard.

In truth, I used to wake up every single morning hearing the incessant chant I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself……! Over and over. Mix in a few I hate my life’s and you’ve got a good idea how my mornings used to go.

Let’s talk about how to STOP hating yourself…

Here are some ideas that involve techniques we’ve learned over the years. Some of them are simple. Others are more complex so we’ve tried to include links to additional resources.

Ready?

Philosophy of As Good As It Gets with a Surprising Twist

asgoodasitgets

What if this is as good as it gets?

This is a line from the movie As Good As It Gets. What are we to do with it?

I’m torn.

On the one hand, I don’t want to cave in to the futility of that statement. I am always seeking to improve, so if wherever I’m at is as good as it gets, then my purpose in life is bullshit.

On the other hand, I’ve made so many positive changes in my life. Let’s see….I know I have…umm…anyway, I know I have.

Oh! I became emotionally available! But then people started to experience me as emotionally self-indulgent.

Aha! I stood up to my family. And now I kinda don’t have a family of origin. Hmm.

I’ve also turned my financial situation around, from totally impoverished as a child and early adult – to be in the top 3% of income earners. Not bad, eh? But it certainly doesn’t make me less stressed or happier. I do have more choices, which is nice but my wife does, too, and now I end up going on unwanted vacations to places I’m not interested in, doing stuff I wouldn’t choose to do.

But I am with her. And I love my wife. There doesn’t seem to be a downside to loving a wonderful woman, imperfections and all.

There would be a downside to falling in love with a woman (or man or other) whose life doesn’t work. But at this moment I feel grateful for the woman I am with.

I didn’t expect this post to go this way, honestly.

Gratitude for my wife and our life together snuck in there and firmly planted itself into my heart and mind and now I am feeling life is only as good as what you appreciate.

Gratitude is the antidote to the as good as it gets paradigm

There’s a whole paradigm that suggests – more or less – that life sucks and by the way, this is as good as it gets. And it’s so easy to believe. Our brains seem to be wired with a preference for predicting the worst.

But brains change on gratitude.

Check out this quote from Positive Psychology

When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside.

https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/

And if you really think about it, issues like imposter syndrome display an unconscious lack of gratitude. When the person with imposter syndrome says, “Yeah, people tell me I did a great job and all but it was just dumb luck,” they are essentially poo-pooing both their effort to succeed and the thoughtfulness of those who recognize it.

Objections to gratitude, anyone?

Now let’s start in on what a scam this whole gratitude thing must be.

Accept your Ordinary-ness and Free Yourself

failure ordinary

Are you an ordinary, average person? 

I am. And there is nothing I’d rather be. Being extraordinary – if such a thing were to exist – seems like it would be amazing. And it truly, truly would be. Because there is no such thing as extraordinary. Ordinary is all we have to work with!

Expecting yourself to be extraordinary – not like everyone else (but way better, right?) is a set up for failure, nothing short of self-sabotage. And who needs that?

If it’s done by a human, it’s an ordinary thing. If a human has touched it, it’s an average thing. If a human thought it, then it’s an ordinary, average idea. What else needs to be said?

I can hear the objections…

Mostly because they are coming from within myself. 

  • You can’t just willy-nilly claim there’s no such thing as extraordinary!
  • Who are you to judge humanity as average?
  • There are truly brilliant people on this earth who do extraordinary things! Now, stop all this nonsense!

Maybe. But probably not and here’s why.

Being ordinary means that you will:

  • Be born
  • Die
  • Struggle with life in between birth and death
  • Find varying degrees of happiness and pain 
  • Need to figure out how to coexist with others
  • Not be remembered by many or for very long after leaving

In that sense, all of us are in the same boat as Alexander the Great and Liberace. And this is a good thing. Since you are never going to achieve the immortal greatness you believe you must, you can……..relax. Take a deep breath. Sit back. Close your eyes. Think of something that gives you a touch of pleasure.

Be grateful.

And stop seeking what you cannot have so you can enjoy reality. 

Hey, maybe that’s the key to a life of happiness: Learn to enjoy reality.

You don’t need to accept your flaws or try to overcome them

accept your flaws

It seems the well-intentioned folks on the internet want you to accept your flaws. There is some great advice out there for doing so, too!

It’s time for another approach: You do not have to accept your flaws.

Here’s where you’re going to be genuinely surprised…

This is NOT a post about refusing to accept your flaws because it’s better to change them. Nope! You don’t need to overcome flaws, either. What should you do with your flaws?

See your flaws in a new light.

why not?

Chances are very high that your “flaws” are based on old beliefs and assumptions that don’t hold up in the warm light of conscious awareness. The first thing to do is slow down and take an honest look at them. Where are the distortions? How can your flaws be reinterpreted?

Examples of seeing flaws in a new light…

Let’s draw from this question from a user on the r/selfhelp (Reddit)

How do I be okay with being flawed?

The root of this question is basically: How can I have the confidence in myself to know that I do all I can to be a good person? Recently I find myself constantly questioning whether or not I am a “good person”. I am aware that humans are flawed and part of my brain can logically tell myself that I should not expect perfection from myself or anyone else. But another part of my brain convinces me to worry about how my actions are perceived by others. I desperately want to be a genuine person and act selflessly but I cannot also deny myself being selfish at times as it’s a part of my nature. Is there a way for me to reconcile these two notions of myself? How can I convince myself that it is okay to put myself before others sometimes? How does one find balance between acting selflessly and selfishly?

Reddit.com

These are such good questions! I broke them down and brainstormed anwers.

Disclaimer: These are the answers that I believe apply to mme.If there is anything helpful to someone else, I’m thrilled to contribute. Beyond that, no offense is intended to anyone.

How can I have the confidence in myself to know that I do all I can to be a good person?

I’d say we can’t answer this question before knowing what you expect of yourself. In other words, how do you know when your’re being a good person? If you were to summarize a “good person” day, what would it look like? What would you do and not do, specifically?

And you may need some help figuring this out. Your expectations may be off – too high or low – which would be a set up for failure.

Recently I find myself constantly questioning whether or not I am a “good person”.

This is a sure sign that you are a good person. Good people are concerned and humble enough to question their own character, values and morality. If you had zero concern about this, I’d be more worried about you.

I am aware that humans are flawed and part of my brain can logically tells myself that I should not expect perfection from myself or anyone else. But another part of my brain convinces me to worry about how my actions are perceived by others. I desperately want to be a genuine person and act selflessly but I cannot also deny myself being selfish at times as it’s a part of my nature. Is there a way for me to reconcile these two notions of myself?

Yes, there is. You’re unwittingly referring to parts psychology here, in which we acknowledge that we have different “parts” or aspects of our personality. You used the word “notions.” These parts / notions are inner divisions where we compartmentalize our various conflicting beliefs and experiences in life.

We end up divided on the inside – inner conflict. Here’s a good post from PsychCentral on the topic, which probably the most overlooked topic in psychology (Oh, I may be exaggerating:)

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2017/01/inner-conflict/

How can I convince myself that it is okay to put myself before others sometimes?

Part of you already believes it is just fine to put yourself before others at times. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a question. The issue is with the part of you that objects to putting yourself before others. What does this objecting part tell you?

How does one find balance between acting selflessly and selfishly?

The balance you’re seeking is an inner balance – or to heal the divide within.

Judging yourself for Being Fat Won’t Make you Skinny

judge self for being fat

And this is the vicious cycle of self-criticism played out in the mind of a fat man. He’s fat. He hates being fat. He loves to hate being fat.

In his case, criticizing himself for being fat has NEVER helped him get thin – in any way. Such self-immolation has only discouraged him, leading him closer and closer to despair. Arrive at despair, he exclaims, “Screw it! I might as well eat whatever the hell I want. At least I get something I want!”

He indulges in all manner of goodies to eat, which maintains and increases his obesity. And proceeds to judge himself. Despair. More self-indulgence.

Until death do you and your vicious cycle part.

Is there anything to be done about criticizing yourself for being fat?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Remember that it will never contribute toward weight loss. Self-criticism only serves to make you feel less than, feeding on itself until your final hours.
  2. If you can stop criticizing yourself for being fat, you will reduce your stress and emotional angst. Asd that can only help,
  3. If you never going into despair about being overweight, then you are more likely to have hope. Hope inspires positive action. The more hope you have, the better.

It is Supremely Important to Stop Judging yuorself for Being Fat

Can you do it?

For those of you who are resisting the suggestion, here’s a question. What are you afraid will happen if you stop judging yourself?

Most people are afraid that if they don’t criticise themselves, they will get fatter. Not true. And you know it.


The Link Between Self-Criticism, Depression, and Self-Compassion

self-criticism-inner

Are self-criticism and depression related?

A growing number of recent studies investigating the relationship between depression and self-criticism are pointing to a strong causal link between the two. 

In today’s society, self-criticism is sometimes equated with the ability to be introspective and objective about one’s flaws and weaknesses, and as such is often regarded as a valuable trait to possess. 

However, according to psychology, self-criticism is a negative personality trait, one in which a person harshly evaluates, compares and judges themselves and their actions, resulting in a skewed and disrupted self-identity.

Somewhere along the line, many of us developed the mistaken belief that if we’re especially hard on ourselves, we’ll become better people. And so we chastise, berate, bash and belittle ourselves, believing this will somehow motivate us into action and positive change.

Neuroscience is now suggesting that this type of negative self-talk actually does the opposite of what we intend. Instead of motivating us, self-criticism creates a brain state that causes us to disengage, and that leaves us feeling fearful, demoralized, and trapped. 

Sounds an awful lot like the symptoms of depression.

The Studies

A 2012 study by Lerman, Shahar, & Rudich looked at depression in chronic pain patients, and identified the depressed individuals as being intensely self-critical.

Another study of graduate students with a history of major depression found a more direct causal link between the negative effects of self-criticism and depression, suggesting that self-critical thinking put individuals at higher risk of depressive episodes.

A third, combined series of research efforts (Campos, Besser, & Blatt, 2010; Ehret, Joorman, & Berking, 2015; Joeng & Turner, 2015) clearly name the tendency towards self-criticism to be a significant risk factor for developing depression.

Though the above studies don’t offer irrefutable proof that criticising oneself causes depression, it’s not much of a stretch to make the following assumptions:

  • People who self-criticize are at higher risk for depression
  • Depressed people self-criticize more than others
  • The frequency and intensity with which someone experiences and identifies with their critical inner voice correlates directly with their risk for, and level of, depression

The Role of Self-Compassion

Where self-criticism increases an individual’s risk for depression, self-compassion appears to be the antidote.

Self-compassion is the extension of compassion – kindness, understanding, empathy, and a desire to alleviate suffering – towards one’s self. It is being warm and accepting towards oneself, particularly in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, and pain. 

The above combined research series also considered and studied the mediating effect of self-compassion on both depression and self-criticism, with extremely promising results. According to the authors of one of the studies, Joeng & Turner:

“Whereas self-criticism has been proposed as an important risk factor for major depressive disorder, self-compassion as been suggested as a resilience factor that protects against the development and maintenance of depressive episodes.”

A final study focusing directly on the mediating role of self-compassion came to the same conclusion. Nadine J. Kaslow, one of the authors of the study, summarized:

“Self-compassion is gaining recognition as a resilience factor with implications for positive mental health. Self-compassion mediated the self-criticism-depressive symptoms link, suggesting that self-compassion ameliorates the negative impact of self-criticism on depressive symptoms.”

The Antidote: Practicing Self-Compassion

In light of these and other emerging studies, one of the most powerful things we can do in the fight against depression is to first become aware of the voice of our inner critic, and then practice replacing it with the voice of compassion.

Each time we identify, observe and respond compassionately to the harsh voice of the inner critic, it loses a little more of its power over our feelings and beliefs about ourselves. We begin to realize how destructive and disempowering this voice is when we are able to distance ourselves from it.

A Great Technique to Try

To externalize and therefore break the spell of the negative inner voice, try repeating the critical thoughts, either out loud or on paper, but doing so as if someone else is talking to you.

For example, if you hear the words “I’m such a fat loser. No one will ever love me like this”, try reciting or writing “You are such a fat loser. No one will ever love you like this”. 

Suddenly, that voice doesn’t sound quite so objective or truthful anymore, does it? This exercise helps you gain some much needed perspective and distance from the voice.

You can then try responding, again on paper or out loud, with something more compassionate and realistic. Try to imagine what a trusted friend or mentor would say to you in that moment. For example, “You have so many great qualities, and your weight is not the only thing people will appreciate and love about you.”

Make it positive and encouraging, but reasonable and believable so that you don’t give your inner critic a reason to jump all over you again.

It’s also helpful to remember that our inner critic is not the enemy (though it may at times seem that way). It is simply an outdated and unnecessarily harsh protector, trying to keep us from things that we fear. It doesn’t tell us the truth about ourselves or what we are capable of.

And equally important to remember is that self-compassion doesn’t mean being soft, giving up, or not taking responsibility for what’s happening in our lives. It’s about being supportive, kind and encouraging in the face of our very human faults and weaknesses. 

Is Self-Criticism Self-Indulgent or Self-Absorbed?

self-criticism-inner

Yes, self-criticism is both self-indulgent and self-absorbed.

Big deal. (This is genuine sarcasm).

Self-criticism is self-indulgent. True! Being self-indulgent is not morally wrong, however. Most people are self-indulgent in one way or another if to varying degrees. It’s part of the human condition. Being self-indulgent isn’t morally right, either.

Morality is a separate issue.

There are just so many better things we can do with ourselves than self-criticize. Extending our energy outward – toward others – to help or connect in any way is clearly a better option than to sit around mind-f**ing ourselves. And it feels better too!

So why is it so hard to let go of self-criticism – to stop saying nasty things to ourselves – when there are so many better things to do? The answer to this question SUCKS so bad!

We can’t let go of self-criticism because we unconsciously prefer to shit on ourselves over all other options.

Unconscious attachments. I don’t want to explain, so if you’re intrigued, learn about self-sabotaging attachments.

Is Self-Criticism the Number One Human Problem?

I don’t know! But it feels that way. Maybe it feels like that because self-criticism is my #1 problem in life.

But isn’t it everyone’s #1 problem? No. Can’t be.

If you’re homeless in the snowy winter, shelter and survival – your own safety – is your number one problem. Self-criticism would be a luxury under those circumstances.

Now there’s a reframe! (See NLP Reframing)

If self-criticism is an issue, then you are not bogged down by more serious issues like how you’re going to survive the day. I wonder how many people on this planet wonder how they are going to live through this very day.

A quick search yielded one overwhelming stat. 357 million children on Earth live in war zones. I’ll bet each and every one of those kids would much prefer to be sitting in a nice, safe home struggling with self-criticism.

Check Me Out: I’m 89, Goofy, and Married 75 Years! [VIDEO]

This couple, married 75 years, seems so happy. So jovial!

But if you’re hoping for some undiscovered secret to a long, happy relationship, you might be disappointed. The advice of these obviously way cool people?

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before! But it’s probably not what you DO in your relationship (if you’re unhappy).

Check it out…

See? No big revelations of relationship mysteries. The secret is to implement what you undoubtedly ALREADY KNOW about relationships.