What it means to self-loathe and how to turn these feelings into self-love.
Do you sometimes feel like your own worst enemy? Are you a harsh critic of yourself and can’t quite seem to get away from feeling this way? You may be practicing the unhealthy act of self-loathing.
Some typical signs of self-loathing are:
Apologizing too much- Do you tend to apologize for everything, even if it’s not your fault?
Setting your hopes low to decrease the chances of failing- Do you often set the bar very low for your accomplishments as a way to ensure that you won’t fail?
Placing a strong emphasis on the times you were wrong- Do you often focus on the times that you did something incorrectly and tend to forget the times you were right?
Your envy gets the best of you- Are you often envious of what others have, and put yourself down when you don’t have what they have?
Self-loathing can rear its ugly head in many different scenarios with varying degrees of severity. Despite usually being a negative mindset, self-loathing is occasionally helpful for some people as a way to temper their disappointment. For example, if you and your best friend are both competing for the same role in the school play, you may talk yourself down and assume that she’ll get the role so you won’t be disappointed in the event she does get the part.
Other times, people may use self-loathing as a strategic motivation technique. Saying things like “I’ll never get anywhere in life if I don’t learn this skill” or “I need to stop acting like a child and get my act together” are ways that people may use self-loathing as a motivation technique. It’s not the most healthy way to motivate yourself, but for some, it’s a powerful way to get something accomplished. However if you notice yourself talking like this often, work on turning those negative thoughts into positive ones. Saying things like “Learning this skill will set me up for success” or “Becoming more mature is something that I need to work on as it will help me succeed in life” are much more favorable ways motivate yourself and stop the cycle of self-loathing.
Any time you start to speak negatively of yourself, you need to make a note of it and reframe it into a more positive way of thinking. This practice will slowly become more comfortable to accomplish until your positive thoughts outnumber your negative ones. You have the power to learn how to love yourself.
Whether engaging in self-loathing to motivate yourself, to protect yourself, or it’s a result of your low self-esteem, working on changing your mindset from negative to positive can do wonders for your self-worth and overall happiness. If you’ve worked on improving your negative thoughts to positive ones and you’re still having trouble getting out of the self-loathing cycle, consider speaking with a therapist that can help you work towards living your best life.
Dr. Dimitra Takos is a Newport Beach Psychologist specializing in the treatment of adolescents and adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and trauma-and stressor-related disorders.