I’ve written this article for anyone who has ever lied awake at night wondering:
Why do I hate myself so damn much?
If you can be honest with yourself, there’s probably been a moment in your life when you started to hate yourself.
After all, you’re only human.
The first thing I want to tell you is this:
It’s completely normal to hate yourself from time to time. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
However, it’s important to understand the root cause of why you are hating yourself, and what to do about it.
I used to hate myself. Nothing I did was ever good enough to meet my own expectations of the person I wanted to be.
Then I came across an incredible mind hack by the spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle, and it completely changed me.
I no longer hate myself. I want to share this mind hack with you.
First, let’s take a look at the key reasons why so many of us hate ourselves.
[Before I get started, I want to let you know about my new personal responsibility workshop. I know that life isn’t always kind or fair. But courage, perseverance, honesty — and above all else taking responsibility — are the only ways to overcome the challenges that life throws at us. Check out the workshop here. If you want to seize control of your life, then this is the online resource you need].
Why do I hate myself?
Why do we sometimes start to hate ourselves?
Your past may be the reason you hate yourself.
Perhaps you’ve had relationship challenges in the past and these challenges are haunting you in the present moment. Maybe you feel like you’ve been rejected recently.
The truth is that everyone experiences relationship troubles and question their self-worth.
Another reason for hating yourself could be toxic people in your life.
We’ve all met toxic people before. They leave us emotionally drained. The worst thing about toxic people is that most of them are narcissists and blame other people for what’s happening in their lives.
That spells doom for compassionate and empathetic people. When you’re empathetic, you probably try to sympathize with toxic people around you.
Narcissists will turn it around and blame you for what’s happening.
Hating yourself is the unfortunate consequence.
Perhaps you hate yourself because you’re feeling lonely and isolated.
The insightful psychotherapist Carl Jung explained the reason why so many of us are feeling lonely:
“Loneliness does not from having no people about oneself, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
When we can express ourselves honestly and truthfully, we feel connected to people around us.
But much of the time we feel misunderstood. We start to feel lonely. We begin to hate ourselves.
These are the classic reasons why so many of us hate ourselves. We are having relationship troubles. We have toxic people in our lives. We’re lonely.
It’s not good to hate yourself. Let’s go through why it’s so bad for you.
Why hating yourself is so bad for you
There’s no mincing words any longer.
Hating yourself isn’t good for you.
When you hate yourself, you settle for less than you deserve in life.
You’ll enter a relationship, and if someone doesn’t give you the respect you deserve, you’ll more likely accept unsavory behaviors.
When you’re around toxic people, you’ll accept their explanations about why you’re doing them wrong in life.
If you’re feeling lonely and misunderstood by people around you, you’ll start to think that you are the problem.
They might make you think you’re ruining your life, which is simply not true.
When you hate yourself, your confidence takes a beating. You don’t feel like you deserve happiness or success in life.
When you feel this way for an extended period of time, something even worse happens.
You start to be the victim.
Life starts to be seen as unfair.
You now have the mindset that there’s nothing you can do about changing your life. Your self-hatred becomes deeply entrenched.
Self-hatred shapes all of your interactions with people. Your ego starts to take over. You project an identify of being successful, of being happy, but it’s false.
You’re projecting this identity to convince others of your self-worth so that you can convince yourself.
But this voice deep inside your psyche continues to twist with your thoughts. It knows deep down you hate yourself. And it keeps on sabotaging your interactions with people.
Hating yourself is bad for you. This voice in your psyche questioning your self-worth doesn’t help you to live a better life.
It’s time to confront this little demon.
It’s not easy to do. We need to turn to the great spiritual guru Eckart Tolle and use one of his most incredible mind hacks.
Using this mind hack, we’ll face up to the self-loathing little voice deep inside us and banish it forever.
A mind hack by Eckhart Tolle
I came across this incredible mind hack by Eckhart Tolle buried in an obscure transcription of one of his speeches.
It’s about the relationship you have with your own self-esteem.
With your own self-confidence.
Eckhart Tolle compares humans to animals, explaining that animals don’t have a conception of themselves.
They don’t walk around with a mental image of themselves.
This is the key mind hack. You need to understand that all of this self-hatred is based on a mental image you have created about yourself.
The expectations of toxic people. You’ve allowed this to create a mental image.
Your fears about a relationship not working out. You have a mental image of being someone who doesn’t live up to your partner’s expectations.
Being lonely and misunderstood. You created a mental image of someone who needs to be understood in the first place.
It’s time to see this mental image for what it is. A mental image. It’s not real.
It’s time to bust this mental image.
It’s time to transform your identification with your thoughts.
I’ll leave it to the words of Eckhart Tolle to help you change your relationship with your thoughts.
Over to Eckhart:
Yes, self-esteem. Many people seem to have a problem with that – lack of self-esteem.
I read a while ago, when the Dalai Lama was younger he was meeting with a group of Westerners and they were talking about lack of self-esteem, and he just couldn’t understand that, what that was. And they tried to explain it, and then he went around the group and asked everybody, “do you have that?” And most people said, “Yes.” [And the Dalai Lama said,] “Oh, very strange, self-esteem”.
Now the human species is the only species on the planet, of course, that has a relationship with itself. Where [when] you have a relationship with yourself – that’s normal. But the cat doesn’t have a relationship with itself. Or the bird doesn’t have a relationship with itself. Or the tree doesn’t. So, birds, cats, trees, monkeys, flowers none of them have a problem with self-esteem. And even the most ugly looking cat wouldn’t have a problem with self-esteem. It hasn’t created a secondary, an “image self” – mind created. And once that’s created it walks with you, next to you, or behind you, or wherever it is. You always walk with a mental image of “me” and you have a relationship with that. And, often you don’t like what you see. That “image-self.”
That’s poor self-esteem. And then you may be in conflict with it. You may be talking to your self in the head. Telling your self something about yourself. Some people talk to themselves in the first person, buy many more people talk to themselves in the second person, as “you”. [For example:] “You see.” “You failed again.” “You see, you’re not as good as…” “You see, you…” “Why can’t you…?”
And then at times, the self feels suddenly great about itself. Some people predominately have low self-esteem, in other words, feel bad about the mind made image “me” [“little me”], feel bad about that. And then realize that, some realization comes in when they realize it is mind created. And they realize, and usually in the West, it’s connected with New Age teachings, and they realize they can do something about their bad self-esteem, their image. You can actually change your thinking about yourself.
First you discover that the thinking about yourself is predominately, or to a large extent, negative and then you see a little bit of Presence is arising. It must be, because you’re able to stand back a little bit and watch and see what you’re creating with your thoughts. And then the possibility comes of changing your thoughts and self-esteem – through workshops, affirmations, visualization, and all those practices. And then after awhile that image looks a little bit more [enhanced], and you feel more comfortable with that thing walking along side you.
But since everything in form, all mind creations, thoughts are subject to polarities, you can’t walk with a high [sense of self] continuously, with high self-esteem and feel great about your self, there’s always a polarity to it, and its usually bound up with what happens or not-happens in your life, what feedback you’re getting from others. And it is usually comparative, the self-esteem is comparative.[You ask yourself] How do I rate myself in relation to others? And that gives you an indication where you are on 1 to 10, or whatever it may be. So, self-esteem is connected with the mind made “me”, lack of it, or in good self-esteem [the enhancement of it]. But it exists in polarities: if you spend a whole year affirming continuously, “I love myself, I love myself”, and maybe until now you hated yourself. Your house is full of little stickers, and wherever you look you see, “I love myself”, and you look in a mirror and look into your eyes and repeat that, “I love myself.”
To some extent it works, to some extent. You have a better relationship with your self. But there’s always a down side. It’s hard to sustain that, because the other polarity will manifest also in your life. And you go through life, when in order to know how you feel about yourself, you need to compare yourself with others. And then you say, “Oh, I’m actually better looking that this person, and so I feel quite good about myself.” “I’m actually much more educated that that person, and I feel good about that.” Or whatever you can get. “Well, this person is ill and I’m healthy, so that’s good.”[What] you need for self-esteem, if you look, you need relativity. So you need comparison. And ego is always comparing itself.
Is it possible to live without having a relationship with yourself, neither good nor bad? It is possible to be so completely your self that the mind made image of me, dissolves?
And yes, this is why we’re here [at the retreat in India, or reading his book, or reading this]. This is the essence of our gathering. The mind made image is connected to thought, to continuous thinking. It’s fueled by, perpetuated by, upheld by the continuous thought processes many of which are about “me”, and my “self.” And so through thought I have a relationship with a thought made entity, which sometimes feels quite comfortable and sometimes feels not pleasant, I don’t want to live with that person. And of course, it’s true, many people live with a self that is very unpleasant, that creates a lot of problems, a lot of suffering, that continuously criticizes them, that continuously blames them, that tells them they’re not [good] enough. And they live with that entity, mind made, conditioned mind movements, conditioned in such a way that they attack you continuously. And that’s the self that they have a relationship with. They would never live with a person like that. You would run out of the room. You couldn’t live with the person for more than a day. If somebody you lived with did that to you, what your self-image is doing to you through thought, you would have filed for divorce long ago. But you can’t do that because it’s your own mind and it walks with you. And there you have this complaining, and whining and accusing. [And you say to yourself] “Ah, get away.”
And a large part of that is because you’re identified with thought. There isn’t the ability to step back from thought and watch thought, watch that. And here, the mind-made entity, because that self that you have a relationship with is part of the story based self. The “me.”
That was the self that I had a very unpleasant relationship with for many years. I had an extremely painful relationship with myself. I couldn’t live with myself anymore. And so, I somehow said, “That’s it! I can’t live with it anymore, that’s it!” But that was so total, that I no longer sustained, fueled the self through thought. I didn’t know anything about it, it just happened. So the mind made image dissolved. The self that I couldn’t lived with, that was so heavy, dissolved. And what was left was simply, “I”. So the “I” shifted, whereas before when I said “I”, I was referring to my self, the unhappy “dense-I”, the “story-based-I” – that dissolved. Then the true “I” emerged (had always been there). Presence, I am, nothing in particular anymore.
A simple sense of Presence or Beingness. And for the first time I could walk and Be without having a relationship with myself. And that, there is something so precious in that “I” or Presence, so – it’s beyond words, you could say, it’s like a diamond. It’s something that’s extremely, very-very precious.
That’s why perhaps Buddhists have the image of a diamond. But this is not comparative. It’s a sense of that deepest Self, not the mind made self. It’s so precious, it knows itself to be that in a non-dualistic way, without needing to compare itself to others. It has nothing to do with a form, or any mind form. As Presence arises, you don’t need self-esteem anymore, you don’t depend on that any more, because what dissolves is the mind-made-entity, with which you have a relationship.
And its so, self-esteem is an intermediate thing that for a little while makes your life more pleasant, and then after awhile you see the unsatisfactory nature even of that because you cannot uphold continuous self-esteem, its hard work, all these affirmations. And then things come into your life that tell you the opposite [about yourself], inevitably, sooner or later.
So, then suddenly [when you go beyond mind made self-esteem] you don’t love your self any more, nor do you hate yourself, because there’s no self to love [or hate]. There’s simply the state of Bliss, which is love. It emanates. But you don’t create a fiction that now you have a good relationship, and love. So that is moving beyond self-esteem.
And now we see why the Dalai Lama couldn’t understand. He only learned about self-esteem from Westerners who have a highly developed mind, and ego. Others also have ego, but even more developed in the West, perhaps. But he was surrounded by, perhaps by monks, and not quite as highly developed mental image. And perhaps he himself never had it. I don’t know. But anyway it was new to him.
And I write about it in the book. There’s a paragraph in there. The end of having a relationship with yourself. You don’t need to arrange certain thoughts in your head that you feel good about. So self-esteem is replaced by something that is deeper and more real”
(If you’re looking for specific actions you can take to stay in the moment and live a happier life, check out our best-selling eBook on how to use Buddhist teachings for a mindful and happy life here.)
5 practical exercises to help you feel better about yourself and your life
If you hate yourself, then it’s likely that your self-esteem has taken a battering.
And it’s difficult to change your thought patterns when you lack self-esteem.
So to change your mindset for the better and improve your self-esteem, I’m going to go over 5 practical and simple exercises you can do.
Remember, these aren’t magical fixes, but if you do them consistently, you’ll eventually become a more positive person.
The best bit?
You will no longer hate your life and living will become more enjoyable.
1) List 10 things that you love about yourself
If you’re lacking self-esteem and you hate your life, it’s hard to see your positive attributes.
Because you’re seeing the world with cognitive bias. When you view yourself and who you are, your mind is immediately focusing on the negative.
But this isn’t factual.
To see reality for what it is, you need to balance your perspective with more positivity.
Remember, when you write down this list, you can focus on whatever you want. You could love that you’re a kind person, or you’re good at running.
Just let your mind free and write down everything positive about yourself.
I said 10 things to list down because that’s the minimum amount that you need to reach.
But if you can write more, then go ahead!
(To learn more about self-love, check out my ultimate guide to loving yourself here)
2) List 10 skills that you possess
The next step is to recognize the skills that you possess. This allows you to see the value you can offer to other people.
Because you’re hating yourself and your life, you’re probably looking at your skill-set from a position of what you lack.
But now’s the time to look in the other direction.
Everybody has their own unique talents, so let’s list yours.
Remember, you can include everything in this list. Don’t just include technical skills like you’re good with computers, or you’re good at knitting.
Include things like you’re loyal, you’re kind and anything else you can think of.
Some things may overlap with the list above. That’s fine. It’s reassuring yourself that you’re talented and there’s a lot about yourself that you can love.
3) Change the way you speak to yourself
Most people with a negative mindset are pretty critical of themselves.
This obviously makes it harder to love yourself. You can get lost in a cycle of negativity.
So, what’s the best way to break this cycle?
By becoming aware of the negative self-talk and putting a stop to it.
When you identify that you have said something negative about yourself, make an effort to change it to something more positive.
Instead of: People hate me. It must be horrible to hang out with me.
Try: It’s impossible for everyone to like me, but I can stay true to who I am and focus on the relationships I have.
Instead of: I’m a terrible worker.
Try: I try my hardest. Work is lucky to someone that is always giving their best.
Instead of: I’m fat and everyone thinks I’m ugly.
Try: The size of me does not define my value – and does not determine my beauty.
4) Have fun exercising
When you’re feeling down, the last thing you want to do is exercise.
But while it’s difficult to get yourself moving, it really can lift your mood and make you feel more positive about yourself.
In fact, science is finding that exercise is one of the best natural routines you can do for yourself.
Harvard Health says that aerobic exercise is key for your head, just as it is for your heart:
“Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.”
According to Harvard Health, exercise works because it reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Most importantly, have fun while you’re exercising.
If you love playing soccer, join a team. Whatever it is, if you’re having fun you’ll forget that you’re exercising and you’ll end up exercising a lot more!
5) Spend time with positive people
Who you spend your time with has a huge influence on your mindset.
In fact, according to life hacker Tim Ferriss, we are the average of the 5 people we hang out with most:
“But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.” – Tim Ferris, The 4-hour work week
So if you’re spending your time with negative and toxic people, then it’s going to change your mindset for the worse.
Have a good think about who you spend your time with and ask yourself these questions:
1) Do you walk away feeling positive about life?
2) Do they spend their time criticizing others and gossiping?
3) Do they lack respect for you?
4) Do they constantly put you down?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it might be time to find some new friends.
You don’t have to get rid of these friends, just watch how much time you’re spending with them.
If you can hang around people who are positive and optimistic about what you can achieve, you’ll feel better about yourself.
If you don’t know how to make new friends, think about what you’re passionate about.
Often finding people who are interested in similar things is the best way to make friends you actually enjoy spending time with.
(For 5 science-backed ways to be more positive, click here)