It’s not wrong to acknowledge that there are things you don’t love about yourself.
But when you consistently focus only on those things and act as though they outweigh anything lovable in you, you may have a self-loathing personality.
Unlike those who can weigh the good against the bad in themselves in a healthy way, people with self-loathing personalities have deeply-rooted feelings of inadequacy.
No matter how much loved ones praise you and admire you, and no matter how successful you may be, you feel worthless and filled with self-disgust.
But those who have this extreme self-hatred must accept that they don't know themselves as well as they might think. When your self-perception is skewed, you only see a part of yourself — the part you dislike so much.
But that's not a true reflection of reality. Once you can acknowledge that you aren't the best arbiter of your worthiness, you can begin to heal and change your self-loathing personality into a self-loving personality.
It’s time you took a hard look at your thoughts and the resulting behaviors so you can begin to make improvements.
Let’s start with a clear definition of self-loathing.
- What is self-loathing?
- 9 Signs of a Self-Loathing Personality and Action Steps
- 1. You set your goals low to protect yourself from failure.
- 2. You blame yourself for everything that goes wrong.
- 3. You think you deserve every bad thing that happens to you.
- 4. You keep people at arm’s length.
- 5. You use abuse to motivate yourself.
- 6. You envy others their success and consider it beyond your reach.
- 7. You’re on a non-stop hunt for validation from others.
- 8. You have difficulty accepting compliments.
- 9. You refuse to forgive yourself (or others) for past mistakes.
What is self-loathing?
Any self-loathing meaning will draw from the word itself.
Someone filled with self-loathing, then — by definition — is filled with self-hate. Think of all the synonyms for hate (revulsion, abhorrence, contempt, etc.) and imagine them directed at yourself.
This may look different in people of different dispositions, but there are some habits self-loathers all share, to varying degrees:
Aside from defining self-loathing and recognizing its usual manifestations, it’s essential to understand what causes it.
What causes self-loathing behavor?
While the origin story of each person’s self-loathing personality is different, the following are some of the most common causes:
You know better than most what’s at the root of your own self-loathing behavior. If you're not sure about the root cause, work with a therapist to help you uncover it.
And once you acknowledge it, you’re in a better position to recognize the signs of self-loathing in yourself and begin to make positive changes.
9 Signs of a Self-Loathing Personality and Action Steps
To effectively deal with your self-loathing personality, you need to identify the behaviors that contribute to it, recognize them for what they are, and take steps to replace them with behaviors that help you see more of the good in yourself.
1. You set your goals low to protect yourself from failure.
Since you expect yourself to fail or to make a costly mistake, you don’t set your sights higher than what you perceive as easily attainable — preferably with minimal visible effort.
You don’t want to give the impression that you’re working toward something, because if anyone notices, they’ll also notice the outcome.
So, if you ever do start working on something “big,” you’re likely to be secretive about it. If you fail, you don't want anyone else to know about it.
And if you fail, you’ll more than make up for the lack of criticism and shaming from others.
Action Step: Setting bigger goals and telling others about them can be scary, but when you continue to strive for something better, learn from your mistakes, and keep picking yourself back up, you also continue to grow.
2. You blame yourself for everything that goes wrong.
When anything goes wrong — or when something doesn’t go the way you want it to — you blame yourself, even when you’re not the only contributing factor.
In fact, you’re likely to blame yourself even when there’s no apparent connection between the failure and yourself.
“It must be” your fault, because you’re bad luck, or because you poison everything you touch.
Even if someone else was directly responsible, you see what no one else sees; it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been there.
Action Step: Take a step back and try to view the situation as if your best friend were you — experiencing the same situation. You wouldn't harshly judge your friend.
Remind yourself that not every failure you witness is your fault. And even those for which you’re partly responsible don’t define you for life.
3. You think you deserve every bad thing that happens to you.
Because you see yourself as the one most to blame, you also believe you deserve any punishment that comes to you.
Whatever happens to you that causes pain or suffering, you see as something you deserve — or something God or the universe thinks is your rightful punishment.
And even if part of you resents the universe for those sufferings, you’re likely to persist in seeing them as proof of what you deserve.
If good things happen, on the other hand, you’re likely to think they won’t last, or that they’re meant for someone else to enjoy.
You’re not allowed to enjoy any of it.
Action Step: Recognize that bad things can happen to anyone — even those whom you perceive to be good and deserving people.
So what makes you so different that you are singled out for punishment? Nothing. Keep reminding yourself that.
Also, when you allow yourself to feel gratitude for the good things and to express that gratitude, you can begin to change the way you see yourself and your place in the world.
It’s no accident when you’re able to experience something good, and you owe it to yourself to be grateful for it while it lasts.
4. You keep people at arm’s length.
Since you only see what’s repellent in yourself, you keep people at arm’s length.
You don’t want anyone to know you, because once they do, they’ll see what you see. And they’ll leave. They’ll leave because (unlike you) they’re not stuck with you.
They can reject you and find someone more lovable to spend time with. And you expect them to do so as soon as they see what you see.
So, you don’t let anyone get close. Maybe you do this thinking you’re protecting them from yourself — someone who will only disappoint or hurt them.
They’re better off not getting attached, because people like you don’t deserve to be happy. And you don’t want to take anyone else down with you.
Action Step: You know from past experience that not everyone will hate what you hate about yourself (at least not intensely as you do).
If they see more reasons to stick around than to leave, give them the chance to show you what they see. And try to believe them.
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5. You use abuse to motivate yourself.
No one treats you more harshly than you treat yourself — physically, verbally, or both. Because no one sees and hates the darkness in you more than you do.
Maybe you think that by torturing yourself, you’ll motivate yourself to improve.
But the abusive tactics, if they have any effect at all (considering you’re immune to them by now), are more likely to backfire.
You might even borrow abusive tactics from those who’ve hurt you in the past:
Action Step: Whatever tactics you use to habitually remind yourself of your own unworthiness, the more aware you are of them. As you become increasingly aware, question whether they serve the person you want to be. Try to make one small change in these self-defeating behaviors a week.
6. You envy others their success and consider it beyond your reach.
If you don’t expect much good of yourself, you’re more likely to envy the success and happiness of others. You’re also more likely to resent them for it (secretly or otherwise).
Even when outwardly, you tell yourself, “I’ll never be as successful as so-and-so,” and pretend to be chill about it, the disparity between so-and-so’s life and yours deeply bothers you.
You want what they have, but you also see it as hopelessly beyond your reach.
Maybe you allow yourself to consider the possibility that you could enjoy some success in your life — though nothing on the same level — but as soon as something goes wrong, you fold.
Action Step: Instead of envying others their successes, why not take advantage of what they know. Learn from them how they succeeded and implement what you learn.
Even if success doesn’t come to you as quickly or in the same way, you’ll still be taking positive action and turning something potentially negative into an opportunity for growth.
7. You’re on a non-stop hunt for validation from others.
If you can’t find validation in your closest family members and other close connections, you’ll look for it anywhere — including social media.
When you post something new, you can’t help checking frequently throughout the day to see how people have responded to it.
It’s normal to want others to respond positively (rather than the opposite). But when you become obsessed with the overall flavor and intensity of that response, it blinds you to more important things.
And you let your self-worth depend too much on how other people (including strangers) respond to something you created.
If you already dislike yourself, you’ll see every negative response as confirmation that you’re right to.
Action Step: Instead of seeking validation for your actions, act as if you know you’re making a meaningful contribution. When you view yourself as a caring contributor to the world, it won’t matter as much what other people think.
8. You have difficulty accepting compliments.
Since you’re more likely to take negative feedback to heart as something you deserve, you’re unlikely to take even sincere compliments seriously.
So, when someone acknowledges something they like about you, you find it hard to believe them. Words of praise bounce off you, while words of criticism and condemnation go straight to your core.
Because the latter are more familiar, they feel truer and more deserving of acceptance.
And one negative statement easily wipes out a hundred positive ones.
, even if you doubt its truthfulness. Allow yourself to believe that other people see that good in you. And allow yourself to feel grateful for what they see. Have faith in the people who have faith in you.
9. You refuse to forgive yourself (or others) for past mistakes.
It’s easy to hate yourself when you’re hanging onto a past mistake or failure as proof of your unworthiness. And it’s easy to withhold forgiveness from yourself when the offense justifies your continued self-loathing.
Forgiveness brings change, and if you’re not ready for that, you’ll hold onto what’s familiar — even if it’s making you miserable. You can forgive others, so give yourself the same grace.
The moment you decide to forgive yourself and move beyond your past mistakes and failures, you also have to accept personal responsibility for your present behavior and the choices you make for the future.
You can’t tune out with the excuse that nothing better than your past failures can be expected of you.
By forgiving yourself, you’re admitting that your life isn’t defined by those failures or by any of your past mistakes.
Action Step: Whatever you do now and in the future, you’re just as capable of doing something different as you are of doing the same things that kept you stuck.
Whether you forgive yourself or someone else, the act of forgiveness can change everything. Use forgiveness as a tool for growth, self-acceptance, and positive change.
Isn't it time to change your self-loathing personality?
You are not the slave of the things you don’t like about yourself. And while you might get some perverse satisfaction from being regarded as a “tortured soul,” you’re under no obligation to live up to that name. We recommend you strive for the opposite.
You were not born as a self-loather or to be punished without reprieve. You were born to get better acquainted with love and to experience it more fully. Because at your core, that is who you are.
Self-hate keeps you isolated from that truth so that you experience only what your skewed perceptions allow. Every thought that contradicts the voice of self-loathing is rejected as you cling to what is false.
Why cling to this false perception? Wake up and recognize how you've been deceiving and hurting yourself with lies. Get to the bottom of your victim mentality symptoms and craft a new, more loving personality for yourself.
May your courage and love of truth influence everything you do today.