Hating yourself might seem like an inconsequential thing. Who does it really hurt besides you? The problem with hating yourself is that it not only hurts you but those around you. You might argue that you don’t actually ‘hate’ yourself — after all that’s a strong word. Maybe you just don’t like yourself and you definitely don’t love yourself (that sounds rather narcissistic or arrogant anyway)! The flaw in this theory is that we need to feel and know that we are loved. It’s a basic human need. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that you can’t actually love someone else unless you love yourself. A reasonable statement but is it actually true?
Let’s look at a couple points regarding self-hatred and self-love.
If we don’t love ourselves we will inevitability not take good care of ourselves. I’m not talking selfish, self-seeking love of one’s self but being loving and gracious toward yourself. This enables a person to validate and honour their feelings, respect their thought process and ensure that their core beliefs are positive and effective. Appropriate love of self involves limit setting and boundaries to keep damaging relationships away and protect a person relationally/socially and emotionally. Boundaries are actually self-protective and effective for stopping violation. Loving the self also allows a person to meet their valid needs — whether it is a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual need.
Self-hatred often comes out of a place of unrealistic expectations placed on one’s self. This can include perfectionism and self-negating assessment/harsh critical self-talk. Self-hatred can also be formed by hateful comments and behaviour from those who were supposed to love and protect you growing up. Forms of abuse can foster self-hatred but there is no need to stay in those negative thought patterns. Just because someone said something hurtful/destructive, it does not mean it’s true (it means it was real — not true)! The statement ‘hurt people hurt people’ is applicable in these situations. Hating yourself makes you feel bad! Hate is a painful emotion that causes disdain, anger and resentment. Harbouring hatred is harmful to the body, soul and spirit. It is like a toxin that spreads from the host to those around it.
Whether we love or hate our self, we will ultimately create more of the same. What we believe will dictate how we view or perceive our life. If we believe that we are loved and worthy of love then we will naturally receive the evidence that supports this belief. If we believe that we are worthy of being hated and not loveable, we look for proof that this belief is true. Either way, we will reinforce what we believe by assigning the facts we encounter in daily life to prove or disprove what we believe. If our belief is helpful and effective, it reinforces positive sense of self. If our belief is harsh and negative, it will assign negative meanings to benign events. Another example of this is when something positive happens and it doesn’t fit our belief system. This leads to a negating tendency where the positives are dismissed and disqualified and the negatives are personalized and misinterpreted.
Keep in mind that loving yourself and hating yourself are choices. We won’t always ‘feel’ the feelings but our will sets the course for how this plays out. If I choose to believe that I am loveable and worthy of being loved, I have a paradigm for treating myself appropriately. I can meet my valid needs and work towards healthy relationships in my life. If I choose to hate myself and treat myself accordingly, I won’t meet my valid needs and it will impact the relationships in my life — especially my children and grandchildren who observe and hear how I feel about myself. Remember, you have been given sole custody of you, or should I say soul custody. Take care of yourself the way you would treat someone you deeply love and care about. It will change the way you live your life.