A 10-step plan to deal with self-hate

Published on July 5, 2012 by      Print
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(a message to myself from my smarter self)

By Emelia Symington Fedy

First off, stop what you are doing. Whatever is making you hate yourself, stop it right now.

This may be very difficult. The reason you are feeling self hate might be, for example: you wrote a shitty email to your ex and it was the wrong thing to do and now you want to do damage control by apologizing or explaining yourself. This is where you walk yourself into the hamster wheel of hell and it gets worse.

So please… just sit on your hands and STOP everything.

The worst thing for me about self-hate is how horrible it feels:

  1. My throat gets tight.
  2. My heart beats really fast.
  3. An overall feeling of panic and anxiety begins to take over my entire body.
  4. I think mean and dramatic thoughts about myself (you fucking suck, holy shit you are so stupid, how do you even have any friends, you are ruining your own life, you are such an embarrassment, everyone knows what a shithead you are now, oh god, why, why, why, not again, who lives like this? etc).
  5. I try to think of ways to compensate or quickly fix whatever I did wrong this time. I start to spin out on what should be done immediately.
  6. I feel ashamed. I look to outside stimulants to take the shame away as fast as possible (food, smokes and Ativan are my holy trinity).

It is most important to counter this rapid downward shame spiral before it gets completely out of control. This is why the first step is to STOP.

Ways to make yourself STOP are:

  1. Go for a quick walk or do a headstand or run around punching the air (I know, it is so dumb and annoying to be told this… but exercise does help move the hate around).
  2. Phone a friend and tell them exactly what happened and ask for an outside perspective to gauge how bad the damage really is.
  3. Lie on the ground and pray to God/Allah/ Goddess/Yaweh/Harry Potter to help you (I’m not joking).
  4. Sit somewhere quiet with your hands across your heart and breathe deeply and feel the shame deeply. Do not run from it. Feel it.
  5. Ask yourself: what is the worst thing that could happen now? Can you live with it?
  6. Know that you are not alone. If you feel generalized self-loathing on a weekly basis, there most be at least one other person in the world who struggles with this issue too.
  7. You are brave for being honest about it. Being vulnerable about the reality of how much you suck sometimes is the hardest thing to do, but it is also redemptive. If a movie were being made about your life, the audience would all be rooting for your quirky, loveable character.
  8. But right now that really doesn’t fucking help at all. I know. Crawl into bed if you are near one. Go home early. Be soft. Treat yourself like you are sick—because you are.
  9. Every time another wave of self-hate washes over you, try not to push it away. The more you breathe into the hate, in the faster you will get used to it.
  10. A secret. The hate is not really hate. It is actually profound love. You care so much that you want to tear yourself apart when you are not perfect. That is an amazing quality about you.

The important thing to remember in these situations is that the hate you feel toward yourself is actually far worse than the shitty event that happened. Funny that.

Also, when you are upright again, you can ask yourself… what did I learn from this hellish situation? What can I promise will be better next time?

And still, with all these options and positive outlooks, when the worst imaginable happens, if, after 20 minutes of rolling around, brisk walking, calling your besty and praying to Harry Potter hasn’t helped in taking the pain away, then feel free to call in outside assistance (a shot, a toke, or sour cream and bacon chips).

Because nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you fuck up really, really bad and you do something stupid and regrettable and there is nothing that is going to fix it. All you can do is try to figure out how to get comfortable sitting in the all-consuming hole of shame.

Chances are, it’s going to happen again.

 

About Emelia Symington Fedy

Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and popular raconteuse. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a Yogi Tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.

Sign up for more of Emelia’s offbeat essays at her popular site tryingtobegood.com.

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32 Comments !

  1. kirk says:


    this is nice. honesty is great. many people will deny having similar experiences only to realize that they actually do this shit all the time, unless they are completely retarded and nothing can reach them. anyway, nice read.

  2. ilona says:


    Your smarter self totally nailed it!

  3. vanessafiola says:


    Timely and amazing. Well done.

  4. swami nobodhi says:


    I was making love with one of my students and she started crying. I said ” are you going to hate yourself in the morning?” she said ” No, I hate myself now”

    • Stella says:


      I think this blog shows some great insight and provides ways to overcome a panic attack or moment of despair but feeling bad about something you have done may not be self-hate. A pattern of self-hate is a much longer-term problem that is usually brought on by trauma or cognitive beliefs and is incredibly difficult to overcome.

      My reason for responding and expressing this is that I do not think it is helpful to confuse feeling regret about an immediate situation with self-hate. I also think it is not healthy to suggest people deal with self-hate by “call(ing) in outside assistance (a shot, a toke, or sour cream and bacon chips)”. Self-hate is one of the most damaging emotions a person can feel and using ‘outside assistance’ such as food and alcohol will not support a person to overcome their fears and learn self-love.

      If a person really feels self-hate then it is likely that the thing that has triggered it is not their fault, for this reason I don’t think it’s healthy to publicly advise on how to ‘deal with self hate’ and the ‘hole of shame’ when what you’re really talking about is short term regret.

      A great blog for people when they ‘fuck up really really bad’, may I suggest you just be more considerate with your language next time.

      PS – If you are reading this and you are experiencing a pattern of self-hate, get some help from another human ie – friend, therapist, yoga teacher, someone positive. Not the Internet.

  5. Erin says:


    So well put. Thank you for putting this out into the world!

  6. Andy says:


    Sounds like you’re describing a panic attack that I have almost every day at work. Almost every day, at the end of the day, my “prana is drained” from dealing with this anxiety all day. Not really sure what to do about it. Thanks for the suggestions and great post though.

    • emelia says:


      thanks for the honestly and thanks for your story. I feel ya. Being drained and burnt out from your job is the effin’ worst. I get that for sure. I say it’s time for radical self care. Like treating yourself like you are sick with the flu and crawling into a ball in bed. You sound like you need a deep rest. Sending you my love and strength.

  7. Duff says:


    I don’t understand what this writing has to do with the poverty of new age yoga culture….other than contribute to it.

    • Vision_Quest2 says:


      Amen!

      This site is increasingly for the literary-minded, not us consumers of New Age culture …

    • emelia says:


      Hi,

      I ask myself the same question with my writing sometimes. How is this helping? Am I just adding more asshole vibes into the planet?
      For me, its speaking the dark cold truth which then helps to liberate me a bit from the dark cold truth. You know? Thats the best I can explain it.
      Thanks for the question. I really value it.
      emelia

      • Duff says:


        Most new age thinking attempts to resolve conflict and contradiction. This attempt ends up causing the same kind of conformity, repression, fakery and guilt that all of the traditional coercive institutions (church, school, government, corporations) attempt to lay down.

        In any case, rather than try to minimize and “whittle away” so-called negative issues, some basic dialectical thinking would greatly ease the pain and promote greater understanding.

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  9. laura says:


    Beautiful and honest and well written. My favorite line that I will share with friends in need:
    “If a movie were being made about your life, the audience would all be rooting for your quirky, loveable character.”
    So true!
    Thank you for sharing the pain and the gain!

  10. Todd says:


    After a rough day, I came across your site. I thought I should let you know that you just cheered up someone who had a very bad day. I guess I’m not alone in this self-hatred thing.
    Thank!

  11. Dan says:


    Thanks Emelia! I needed this. I’m just coming to grips with the fact that I have been harboring self-hatred for years, but not really looking at what I was doing.

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  13. Marwan says:


    I just discovered this page and I have to say, I feel slightly better just by reading it … I think this would really help me :) Thank you

  14. Teen Student says:


    Listen… This may be really hard to believe, but I absolutely can’t just stop doing the thing that make me hate myself. I’m stuck in some sort of loop; an endless disruptive feedback that if I were to break it, it would be equivalent of splitting an atom over a city.

    In the end it comes down to two things. School and Loving People.

    At school, I get stressed. I have to be so damn close to perfect, I have to be the best, otherwise I won’t be able to go to the college I want to or anything of the sort. It stresses me out and whenever I try my best and fall short, it’s like me knowing that even my best isn’t good enough. That I’M not good enough.

    Then there’s Loving People. I know, sounds like a good thing. But for me, it just isn’t. I love people, but they don’t love me back. Not at all like I love them. They’re never serious. From there I have two options every time… Hate them all, or hate myself. I simply choose to hate myself because then I can’t blame them. I just tell myself that “I’m the last person I’d ever love too. It’s no wonder they don’t love me like I love them. Who could ever really love me right? I mean, look at me!” Thoughts like these are prominent in my mind.

    So, I could stop going to school, which would ultimately result in my life being even more worthless, and I could stop loving people and dumping on myself, which would result in ne hating a lot of people and acknowledging that yes, they should love me and they aren’t. But no matter what, I can’t blame other people because that too would make it worse. In the end. It’s because my best is still lacking, I’m an ugly, sometimes terrible person, and I don’t know what to do. I wish there was an off switch for mental and physical, and emotional pain. Alas, no matter how hard I try I once again am left lacking. I can’t seem to figure it out, to do it. To switch it all off. I know the only real way is death… But I’m still too smart to commit suicide. Being stuck in the middle feels like someone’s dangling my happiness in front of my face and then snatching it away at the last moment. In the end, all I can do is hate myself. Nothing helps, it all just goes in a terrible paradox. I don’t even know how it all began, or when my deathly end will come. I just… Often find myself hopping that someone will end it for me soon.

  15. chelsea says:


    the honesty here brought tears to my eyes. this article was exactly what i needed. this entire last part is true and disarming:

    “10. A secret. The hate is not really hate. It is actually profound love. You care so much that you want to tear yourself apart when you are not perfect. That is an amazing quality about you.

    The important thing to remember in these situations is that the hate you feel toward yourself is actually far worse than the shitty event that happened. Funny that.

    Also, when you are upright again, you can ask yourself… what did I learn from this hellish situation? What can I promise will be better next time?

    And still, with all these options and positive outlooks, when the worst imaginable happens, if, after 20 minutes of rolling around, brisk walking, calling your besty and praying to Harry Potter hasn’t helped in taking the pain away, then feel free to call in outside assistance (a shot, a toke, or sour cream and bacon chips).

    Because nobody’s perfect. Sometimes you fuck up really, really bad and you do something stupid and regrettable and there is nothing that is going to fix it. All you can do is try to figure out how to get comfortable sitting in the all-consuming hole of shame.

    Chances are, it’s going to happen again.”

    thank you.

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  18. Jared Hays says:


    I’m a six-year military veteran who recently got married and have a step daughter. I know I have an anger problem and an issue with self-loathing. For years, I always was told that I was weak, hopeless, and a loser. Then I enlisted and lost six of my brothers to Afghanistan. I still deal with that weight and I try and live a life that they gave me. In doing that, I tend to be very critical of myself.

    I’m likely a recovering alcoholic and a terrible chain smoker, using them as a crutch some days to deal with life. I love my new family too much to let them see me in pain, but lately, I’ve been losing my grip on it. Anyone have any advice?

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