Self-Hatred, Why it Happens and How to Stop It

Behind self-hatred are the traumas of childhood and unhealthy affection received in the past. However, nobody should ever see themselves as their own worst enemy or as someone who doesn’t deserve to be loved.
Self-Hatred, Why it Happens and How to Stop It
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Self-hatred is a completely undermining process. It consists of an inner voice that annihilates a person’s potential, worth, and opportunities. Furthermore, people who hate themselves project their own discomfort onto others. Sometimes, they might be wanting to find someone to blame for their failures and their unhappiness. The truth is that they’re captives of their own negative feelings.

Indeed, people who hate themselves live miserable lives. It’s like having to share an apartment with someone they can’t stand nor get along with. Furthermore, they probably live this reality in silence. It’s usually due to a bad childhood experience or exceptionally low self-esteem.

Some of these people watch their days go by feeling guilty and remorseful over past events. That’s what makes them feel this way. On the other hand, others don’t even realize why they’re feeling like this. Understanding the triggers and learning ways to deal with these uneasy feelings can help them.

Often, self-hatred starts from the way sufferers were treated in the past. In fact, a lack of affection and recognition has made them feel unworthy, even of love for themselves.


Self-hatred is one of the most problematic psychological realities. It’s a state where sufferers integrate and reinforce feelings of inadequacy, guilt, low self-esteem, negative vision, and extreme contempt toward themselves. In fact, this mental focus prevents them from feeling that they possess any positive traits or potential.

This means that they view any success or achievement as being down to chance. They also feel vulnerable. This often makes them behave defensively towards others. Furthermore, they can’t build any enriching social and emotional relationships. They’re distrusting, don’t feel worthy of being loved, and often exhibit hostile attitudes toward others.

The reasons for self-hatred

How could someone hate themselves? What possible reason can there be for them to see themselves as their own worst enemy? As a matter of fact, this situation is more common than you probably think. It responds to several triggers:


Missed opportunities. Behaviors that have bad consequences. Regret for not being braver or for not doing things differently.

Self-hatred tends to originate from those experiences that have scarred them for life. Nevertheless, instead of addressing, treating, and healing them, they leave them there. Hence, they’re like open wounds that they don’t try to heal.

Low self-esteem

Self-hatred is the psychological wound suffered by those who don’t love themselves. In other words, they have low self-esteem. However, nothing flourishes in minds where there’s no self-love and where only negativity and self-hatred reign.

One contributory cause could be growing up in a disabling, critical, and authoritarian family environment. Childhood traumas may also reinforce their feelings of self-hatred.

Self-hatred and the inner critic

Psychology has studied self-hatred for decades. For example, Dr. Louis Paul of the University of Chicago conducted one such study in the 1970s. He suggested that people who hate themselves experience a critical inner dialogue.

This internal voice judges them, weakens their potential, and blames them for each and every mistake. In fact, at every available opportunity, this voice tells them how worthless they are.

Living in a mental universe that’s controlled by an authoritarian and tyrannical voice is extremely unpleasant. This internal dialogue devalues the sufferer, expects them to make mistakes, and feeds their self-hatred.


How to stop self-hatred

Self-hating people need to realize they’re going to have to live with themselves for the rest of their lives. Therefore, they should start treating themselves better. Because self-hatred and the tendency to feed off discomfort will, sooner or later, lead to anxiety. It could even lead to self-harm and depressive disorders. In addition, it isn’t just the self-hating person who suffers, but those in their environment are also affected.

This is because self-hating people often take out their frustration on others. Indeed, when someone feels angry and at their lowest ebb, how can they possibly give their best to others?

However, there are certain steps they can take:

Develop a compassionate inner dialogue

Dr. Nele Stinckens of the University of Leuven (Belgium) mentions a type of therapy for treating self-hatred. It involves enabling an improved inner dialogue.

The person needs to learn to recognize their invalidating ideas and internal criticisms and transform them into a more compassionate form of inner dialogue. In fact, they must learn to be able to speak to themselves with affection, respect, and compassion.

Set new personal goals

People often have a tendency to feed back old unhealthy forms of behaviors into their lives. This reinforces their discomfort. Therefore, they need to make changes. Setting new goals and achieving them will improve their self-esteem. Meeting new people brings them new perspectives and a new way of seeing themselves.

Small changes in daily routines can often bring about valuable transformations and reinforce self-love. It’s a good starting point.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.