If you often have the thought, “I hate myself” or you have feelings of self-loathing, you know how limiting it can feel. This sort of self-hatred can make you feel stuck or trapped, and it saps your confidence. It can also aggravate mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

According to a study I read recently over 80% of people with depression express self-hatred. They also see themselves as lacking the qualities they most admire in others, qualities like intelligence, popularity, health and achievement. This must be tough, since the one person you can never avoid is yourself. But, all is not lost.

Self-hatred isn’t a permanent feature, it’s not an unchangeable part of your character, it’s a result of how your mind works, your style of thinking, and that can be changed!

Getting past self-hatred

But self-hatred doesn’t have to be ba prison. It’s important to understand that you can change your self-image. By using the natural skills and talents that you certainly posess (you probably don’t nrealise you have them, but we all do because they are basic human characteristics), you cabn change how you see yourself.

Learning to love yourself may be a step too far at this point, but you can certainly learn to understand yourself better, appreciate your strengths, and, who knows, in time begin to accept and even like yourself.

A key point here is to recognise that what your thoughts are telling you is not an accurate reflection of you you are.

You can’t avoid yourself

The one person you will live with all your life is yourself, so it you don’t like yourself, it’s best to do something about that. The first step is to believe that you can. You may not yet know how to do it, but you will by the time you have finished reading this. Nor will you believe it, at first, but have faith and you’ll beat the negative thinking patterns that have kept you stuck in a defeating cycle of self- hatred.

Embrace who you are

It is not good use of anyone’s time to hang around with someone you don’t like, in fact it can really bring you down. If that someone is yourself it can be lonely and isolating. A useful first step pdf your thoughts are telling you bad things about you, is to get active. Find things to do that you enjoy. This may not seem obvious at first, but sport, or even simple exercise like walking outdoors, can quickly begin to change your mood and your outlook.

Use your imagination creatively

I wonder if kids could teach us something here. When we are young we use our imagination as a refuge, and fantasy as a learning and development tool. We create imaginary scenarios and live out adventures where we succeed in acts of creativity, bravery and even heroism. Once we are grown up we tend to write this off, and we certainly undervalue it.

People who think bad things about themselves are simply doing the reverse. They are using their imagination to create self-limiting and damaging scenarios that are no more realistic than our dragon-slaying fantasies are when we are kids.

It’s OK to fantisise about who you are or want to become. it is also exercise for the mind that helps correct the false reality of negative beliefs like self-hatred. Everything we achieve in life begins in the imagination. If you let it, your imagination will feed you a negative narrative (as in self-hatred for example), and it can dominate. Choosing to think differently about yourself is liberating, and you can learn how to do it.

Change your thinking and you can change the direction of your life. Don’t wait until you feel like it. Do yourself a favour and make a creative choice today to free yourself from self-hatred.

More resources

Find out your natural strengths with the VIA Character Strengths Inventory

Very Well Mind, 8 Way to Combat Self-Hatred