How to Stop Hating Yourself: The Many Masks of Self-Hatred


There's an energy in me that hates myself. It used to show up by way of not eating, years ago, when I would congratulate myself for my ever-shrinking waistline. Nowadays, it pops its head into my life in the tiniest of ways; I caught it today while I mercilessly squeezed at a pimple on my cheek (actually, there were three separate pimples that had grown fond of each other and attached, forming what can only be described as a small mountain). Of course it's normal to get a pimple or two, especially during times of the month when our hormones fluctuate, but I have a habit picking at acne, which then leaves red blotches and scars.

So, the question is: Why would someone pick at her face, knowing it's going to leave a scar? Or, why would someone overeat and then beat herself up the next morning, riddled with shame and guilt? Why would someone not eat enough calories to sustain a healthy weight, or exercise to the point of punishment? Why would someone go shopping for things she doesn't need when she's in debt? Why would someone date a person who's not kind to her, or push away a partner who's loving and emotionally ready for a relationship?

The truth is: Self-hatred comes cloaked in many costumes, and it's easy to miss it if we're unconscious and unaware of our emotional state because we're too distracted by stress, the stories we conjure in our minds about what other people are doing wrong, or by the latest political gossip. 

It's easy to sit on the couch, snacking on processed foods while watching the latest reality show drama and not look at our pain, not feel our emotions. 

It takes a desire to be happy to be willing to feel our emotions and look at our shadow parts on a daily basis. It's a simple process, but it's one that is unfamiliar to many of us, and so it feels hard. 

Meditate? Oh, I can't do that, the part of us that hates ourselves says, because we don't want to see our pain. We don't want to look at places where shame is hiding.

Pray? Oh, I can't do that. That's nonsense. I need to watch more television, because we want to feel alone, separate from the unity and sense of oneness we feel when we open up our hearts and minds to the idea that we are part of a vast and infinite universe. When we actually let ourselves tap into divine energy, it brings a sense of peace and grace that can feel overwhelming. So instead, we shut ourselves off; we come up with excuses, the same way we tell ourselves we'll lose weight tomorrow, or we'll pursue our dreams when the kids are older and in college.

The ego speaks first, and it speaks loudest.

The voice of Spirit, the voice that loves us unconditionally, is a faint whisper, and it requires consciousness and a willingness to look at our darkness and release it before we can see the light.

Self-hatred wears many costumes, and it's easy to miss if we're busy on our phones, or at the mall. When we're present, undistracted by technology or life's dramas, we can catch it, and in the noticing of it, we release it, refusing to let it manifest in unconscious behaviors like overeating, overspending, or in my case, picking at my skin. It's a sneaky bugger, self-hatred, but once we're in the habit of witnessing it, we stop perpetuating our negative patterns, and what's left is love: self-love. It's a bit like filtering out bits of dirt from a bowl of water by pouring it through a colander. When the dirt is removed, the water is clear, and we have clarity; there's no more negativity to fog up our vision, and our perception, as well as our life, can begin to shift.