Why You Hate Yourself And How to Start Loving Yourself Instead
It started when I was 13. I was fighting with my family all the time. I had started homeschooling and was losing all my friends, one by one. I felt hopeless. The only way I felt I could cope was by cutting myself. — Lindsey (name changed)
“What I’m doing is wrong. I am a terrible person. I am a complete failure, a total loser…” — John, a successful executive in London, from “Fear and Self-Loathing in the City,” by Michael Sinclair
Maybe you’ve been told that you’re bad, selfish, and worthless your whole life. It’s often so covered up, that you search for things that will hurt you, just to feel something. Feeling the pain of hating yourself, destroying yourself becomes a perverse comfort.
But there’s a deeper reason for hating yourself, and like most bad things, it’s a distorted version of something quite positive.
The reason is that you know, on some level, that your potential is truly unlimited, and when you look at yourself and what you’ve been able to accomplish in life, you feel disgusted. You’re painfully aware of your shortcomings, mistakes, flaws, and limitations, but you lack a real sense of your own inner greatness, the truth of your being, the experience of the unlimited within your heart and soul.
To be clear, this feeling of self-hate has nothing to do with accomplishment and everything to do with your sense of who you are and what is reality — this is why even very successful, accomplished people like John are driven by a pervasive feeling of inadequacy.
To start loving yourself, forget about achieving more. Of course you should try to achieve your goals, but not because it’ll take away your self-loathing, because it won’t.
What you need is a new understanding of yourself and the universe. Now, you may be asking, “is that all? Why not wish for the sun, the moon, and the stars as well?”
The way to revolutionize your paradigm of who you are and what is the nature of life, is to meditate. (You’ll also relieve stress and enhance your brain’s neuroplasticity, so meditation is a multi-tasking win.)
Meditating once isn’t going to do the trick. You have to create a consistent, regular practice of meditation to cause the kind of inner change I’m describing. The amazing thing is that it can be done at all.
It also won’t do just to allow yourself to be, and to just go with the flow. You’ll have to dig deep within yourself, exploring your hopes, your fears, your desires, your disappointments, your pain, your heartache, and what makes life worth living. No spacing out, no fantasy, and no expecting only rainbow-colored bliss from your inner world. You’re going to have to embrace your whole self, not just the parts you like.
If this sounds like a pretty tall order, well, it is.
Meditation won’t make your life easier; meditation will make your life better. You’ll be more yourself, without having to carry around your inner critic, your selfish inner child, your self-destructive gremlin, your nemesis, or whatever name you want to give the part of you that’s always dragging you down.
To do all this, you need time, space, and you need a strong, powerful, conscious breath. Breathe deeply, slowly, and rhythmically, first into your belly, then your chest. Fill yourself with the richness and vitality of your breath, and you’ll eventually come to a place where you feel totally and completely whole. You’ll realize that love is what you’re made of, not something that comes from outside you, not something that you’re given for being good. As you drink deeply of the essence of love, your sense of not being good enough will fall away.
As Lindsey says, “I have learned how to cope without cutting by doing yoga, just sitting and breathing, talking it out with my friends and, most of all, by realizing that life isn’t always going to be so bad.”
As the proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Take that step today.