How We Hate Ourselves
No matter how wonderful our life looks from the outside, there is almost always some dissatisfaction on the inside.
Of course, we wouldn’t necessarily admit it on Facebook (or anywhere public), but it’s there.
If your life is going particularly well, that dissatisfaction may be what drives you to greater heights. You can always improve, after all.
The worse you feel your life is going, the more there is to complain about.
Even if we do outwardly complain though, it’s the internal monologue that’s of real concern.
So, while I’ve talked of disapproving of ourselves before, in our weaker moments (tired, drunk, stressed) the truth may come out:
We hate ourselves.
Not in total, of course. Maybe only in certain tiny ways.
However, it’s there.
Even if it’s only heard in the cruel voice in our head, it’s always present.
Hate has many names
A lot of times we dress up or disguise this hate. Maybe it’s things we’re disappointed with, or that “we’d prefer were different”, or even “a minor niggle.” It’s just hate-lite, but it’s still hate. It’s still non-loving. It’s still not helpful.
So, we have a negative voice in our head. Big whoop. Now what?
Well, pretty obviously, a strong negative emotion like hate isn’t doing us any favours. Getting rid of it MUST improve our lives.
It’s very easy to underestimate the power a small but persistent negative voice can have in our lives. This is why it’s recommended to let go of toxic friends.
What can we do though if that toxic “friend” is really just our inner voice?
Since we can’t run away from our brain (however we may try) The only solution is to heal it.
First though, how do we easily identify this self-hatred?
Here’s a good tip: Don’t look inwards, look outwards.
Things we hate in our lives
If there is someone who drives you bonkers, they’re in your life, QED they are part of your existence.
In other words – hating someone who is in your life is, in an indirect way, hating yourself.
Wait a second. How does that work?
Well, think about it this way. Does hating someone else feel good or bad? And, don’t we really apply these same judgements to ourselves?
We might like to pretend that hating something or someone feels good, but the bottom line is we’re dredging up negative feelings. Whether they’re aimed inwards or outwards is of minor difference.
(yes, the recriminations and acrimony are generally larger when criticizing ourselves, but bear with me here.)
Now, I’m not talking about hating someone on TV, or a random celebrity du jour.
No, I’m talking about people that are in your life on a daily basis.
Remember, what we hate most in others is what we typically hate most (or fear might be true) in ourselves.
The people around us are nothing more than mirrors on ourselves.
I’ll give you a few examples.
Let’s say you find fat people repulsive. Not the most loving attitude to have, but surprisingly common.
Maybe when you see a fat person, somewhere in your head you think “ugh, glad I’m not like them.”
Now, how do you think you’re going to feel towards YOURSELF, if you see even the tiniest bit of fat, anywhere on your body? Right. Repulsed.
Same emotion, this time aimed inwards instead of outwards.
“Poor people are lazy”
Let’s say you think poor people are lazy. Another common one.
You’re going to have a very specific set of emotional responses when you see (or think about) poor people.
If your income goes down, or you have any kind of financial struggle in your life, guess how you’re going to feel? That’s right. That exact same loser/lazy attitude, aimed at yourself instead of others.
Ok, one last example.
“Ugly people” (or clothes, frankly)
Pretty much everyone has an idea of what “ugly” is. Much fewer people will watch a movie if there’s ugly people in it than if it’s full of “beautiful people.” Or, there can be ugly people, as long as there’s enough beautiful people to balance it out. Or if the ugly person becomes beautiful through the movie. You get the idea. In short – we prefer looking at beauty to looking at ugliness.
Now, a movie is easy to point out. What about when we walk down the street? Same thing. We see someone we deem beautiful (although ironically beauty standards vary enormously across the globe), and our brain will send out all sorts of happy vibes (particularly if that beautiful person notices us).
If we see someone ugly – let’s say, we’re stuck behind them in the queue at a supermarket, so we’re FORCED to notice them. What then? That’s right. Same thing in reverse. Our brain fills with all sorts of non loving nonsense.
Now, think about yourself. Everybody has at least one small part of themselves they don’t like. Something we consider “ugly”.
Those same feelings you’re aiming at ugly people on a movie or in your queue? You’re now going to be aiming them at yourself.
This is how we hate ourselves.
In a way, the world is just a mirror that reflects our energy and emotion back at ourselves. Whatever we’re sending out, we’re getting back.
Things we love in our lives
Similarly to attachments and aversions, things we feel overly positively about can be a way of hating ourselves.
It’s very simple. Let’s say you find tall people appealing. How is that going to make you feel about your own height, if you’re not what you would consider “tall”? Bad, right? Or at least not great.
If you find foreign accents exotic and appealing, how will that make you feel about your own voice?
People who are competent and accomplished – how about your own productivity and achievements?
Of course, this all comes back to judgement. Looking up to things outside ourselves is an justification to judge ourselves as lacking. Looking down at others is just straight out filling us with negative emotion.
Either way, it comes back to hating ourselves, or some variant thereof.
As I suggested above, really the only way out of this is to heal it.
The good news is, it’s REALLY easy to see how loving we are to ourselves – simply look at how loving (or not) we are to people around us.
If we’re still hating ugly people? We’ll be hating the ugly parts of ourselves. If we hate it when people draw attention to themselves? We’ll feel that same disgust if we’re ever pushed into the limelight.
Obviously, there’s a ton of ways you can work through all these subtle levels of hate. You could sit down and judiciously work through each issue in turn (using whichever tool floats your boat), but here’s a slightly more fun (and faster) way.
All this hate – it’s just energy, floating around.
So, go for a walk. Somewhere with lots of people.
Watch yourself. Watch your reactions to the people in front of you. Try to watch your thoughts as they float up about each person you see.
Now, as you notice each nasty, horrid or judgemental thought pop up, welcome up all RELATED thoughts around it.
So, if you see someone fat and think “how disgusting”, just welcome up “all the fat people disgust” that’s in you.
You may feel a surge of energy inside you, or maybe a clutching in your stomach or chest, or it might be a little hard to breathe, or perhaps it’ll bring some slight tears. Whatever happens just go with it. Welcome it all up and just let it pass through.
Keep going until you can look at the same person and those thoughts and feelings aren’t there anymore.
This sounds like a huge task, but really? You can do it as you’re walking PAST someone, if you’re attentive enough.
If that’s requiring more attention than you’ve got, try sitting down and doing it with the people walking past – so you have a little more time.
What you’ll notice is that you start to have fewer and fewer judgemental thoughts popping up. Additionally, you’ll feel more peaceful inside yourself. Why? Because you’re judging yourself less too.
You’d be surprised how quick it is to drop massive amounts of negativity.
Just keep paying attention. Go easy on yourself, and try not to freak anyone out by staring at them too hard.
Have fun. Enjoy the progress. Every little thing you let go of makes your life that tiny bit better. You’ll be amazed how quickly it adds up.