• Sometimes we wake up, look in the mirror, and don’t like or recognize the reflection that meets us. You may think, “I hate myself.” 
  • It might be sudden weight gain or pesky acne that’s resurfaced. Maybe it’s the drowsy eyes from the night of drinking or the less than thrilled expression awaiting the day’s events.
  • Or it could be something we only feel within—perhaps sadness, a lack of motivation, or boredom.
  • Whatever it may be, we all have something we dislike about ourselves or know we could improve on—that is 100% normal.
  • But what isn’t normal or healthy is completely despising ourselves and allowing that hatred to fester.

It’s not always easy to distinguish what is healthy criticism of oneself and serious self-loathing. The following signs may point to the latter:

  • You take everything to heart. This might mean taking constructive criticism harshly or twisting what others say into insults.
  • You compare yourself to everyone. You’re in the habit of comparing yourself to everyone around you: your brother, your coworker, even that random woman you pass on the street. And you’re always left feeling like they’re better in some way or another. While everyone compares themselves to others to some degree, you do so excessively.
  • You pretend everything’s okay. When your friends or family members ask if you’re okay, you paint on a smile and nod your head yes. You avoid discussing your feelings with your loved ones.
  • You put others down. Since you don’t feel good about yourself, you make fun of others that appear weaker, in hopes that you’ll come out feeling better. You also surround yourself with these less-threatening individuals, out of lack of confidence.
  • You put yourself down. You constantly criticize yourself and you don’t know how to take a compliment. Instead of thanking someone after they tell you you’ve done nice work, you credit it to luck or the efforts of others.

You Know What They Say: Love Thyself

Instead of allowing your insecurities to take over or hatred to fester, you should practice self-love. Self-love is simply the practice of loving oneself. It’s prioritizing your life: your wellbeing, your needs, your desires, and your dreams. But for some, it’s just not that simple. It can actually be quite hard. A woman who suffers from body dysmorphic disorder—or who constantly sees a distorted version of herself—can’t get there. A boy who suffers from depression isn’t motivated to get there. And a girl in her third abusive relationship has completely lost sight of it. It just might take these individuals, and ones of the like, little steps to achieve a greater sense of self-love, such as the following:

  • Begin each day with positive thinking. Look in the mirror and say something you love about yourself. And look forward to the day ahead, determined to make it a good one.
  • Take care of your mind and body. This means nourishing yourself with healthy, feel-good foods and making time to exercise.
  • Separate reality from your inner critic. Work on silencing the inner you telling you you can’t and realize you can.
  • Surround yourself with loving, supportive people. They will encourage you and help you realize how awesome you really are.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. None of us are exactly the same—and that’s beautiful. We all have different traits, quirks, and talents that make us who we are. So stop wishing you had her hair or her body and appreciate your uniqueness.

“I hate myself” is an extremely negative phrase, and despite seeming harmless (it’s only echoing in your head, right?), your thoughts are directly tied to your emotions. Allowing yourself to soak in self-hatred will make turning “I hate myself” into “I accept myself” a much harder process.

Learning to Ignore Social Pressures

So many of us, if not all of us, feel the pressure to live up to society’s expectations—to have the perfect body, the perfect hair, utmost confidence, a lack of blemishes, or a perfect smile. This list of demands is the biggest cause of low self-esteem, which transfers to self-hate, as it holds individuals up to unrealistic standards and makes them feel like they’re not good enough—that they’ll never be good enough. But these demands do not go unchallenged.

We can never win over everyone we meet—and trying to be a people-pleaser may cost you your emotional stability. When the phrase “I hate myself” keeps running through your head, it’s essential to practice self-acceptance. To think, “I hate myself” is normal, occasionally; but when it turns into a consistent stream of negativity and corrosive thought patterns, it’s vital that you love yourself. An even better option? Talk with a therapist or counselor to tackle your concerns as a team.