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Last Updated on December 8, 2020

Why Do I Hate Myself And How To Stop It?

Why Do I Hate Myself And How To Stop It?

“I hate myself” is a thought that is more common than it should be.

There are many people walking around with feelings of self-hatred and unworthiness, making the phrase “you are your own worst enemy” ring true, unfortunately.

This is a painful reality, but what is the root cause of the feeling?

What is the real answer to the question, “why do I hate myself?” And how can you stop it?

Why Do I Hate Myself?

“I feel like I am different from others and not in a good way.”

This was the most common statement when a group of researchers tested some subjects for their familiar self-critical thoughts. Most people see themselves as different but not in a positive way.

The number of likes and friends on social media didn’t mean so much, as there were still feelings of being an outcast. Each person has a critical inner voice. This voice expresses the anti-self part of us, which exudes self-hatred, suspicion, and paranoia.

This critical inner voice is ever-present to comment negatively on our lives, influence our behavior, and inspire feelings of low self-esteem. You find yourself being more accepting of negative thoughts such as “you can never be successful,” and “you are not good enough for anyone.”

This inner voice also encourages you to act in self-destructive ways while blaming you for it when you give in. You go from “eat as much cake as you want, you deserve it after a stressful week” to “this is why you will always be a fat loser, you can’t stick to a diet.”

As weird as it sounds, we all have this critical inner voice. It goes unnoticed most times as we hardly recognize it as a destructive enemy.

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It has become so ingrained in our consciousness that we mistake its points for the real thing and believe all the negative words it says about ourselves.

How Self-Hatred Affects Your Daily Life

Your critical inner voice impacts you in several ways. When it repeatedly tells you that you are worthless, you decide to choose friends and partners who treat you like you are worth nothing.

If it tells you that you are stupid, you may lack confidence and make mistakes that you would not otherwise make.

If it tells you that you are not attractive enough, you start to resist the urge to go out in search of an excellent romantic relationship.

When you listen to your inner critic, you empower it over your lives. When these negative thoughts become overwhelming, you may start to project them onto others. At this point, you view the world through a negative lens.

This is where suspicious and paranoid thoughts come into the picture, making you question or criticize people who see you differently than your voices. In this scenario, you could find yourself struggling with positive recognition or feedback, as it contradicts how you perceive yourself.

You may have trouble accepting love since you cannot challenge your inner critic. While this voice is painful, it is also familiar and a huge pain.

How to Stop Hating Yourself

How can you stop the thoughts of self-hatred that creeps in? How can you reduce or eliminate the influence of self-hatred?

Here are some great ways to stop it.

1. Pay Attention to Your Triggers

The first step in addressing any problem is to understand its root. If you are struggling with severe self-hatred, it can be helpful to sit down with that feeling and try to identify where it comes from.

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The first step is to consider what might have caused these feelings. Even though you have heard it a million times, a journal will be handy here.

Try to sit at the end of the day and take a mental walk through your day. Write about the people you spent the day with, how you reacted to your different activities during the day, and what you did.

If you prefer not to write, you can use voice recordings.

You can also just reflect for a few moments on the events of the day. Keep an eye out for the common patterns that occurred throughout the day. This will help you identify what triggers your negative thoughts.

Once you have identified this, you can work to find ways to avoid or minimize them.

2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Sometimes, self-hatred comes when you’re not in a good place to reflect. When this happens, try to have an internal conversation with yourself.

When this thought creeps in: “I hate myself,” you can reply right away with “why?”

Whatever the answer is, try challenging that thought as well.

Say to yourself, “that is not true.” Then think about the reasons why this negative thinking is wrong.

Coping with your thoughts can be daunting. It can also be a great idea to imagine someone else combatting these thoughts on your behalf. Think of that constant figure in your life or your favorite superhero.

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Then, imagine them going in and stopping those negative thoughts. Simply challenging these negative thoughts helps reinforce the idea that self-hatred is not an undeniable fact or truth; it is an emotion.

3. Practice Positive Dialogue

Self-hatred often comes at a time when you have no compassion for yourself. If you have a period when you feel good, try writing a list of what you like about yourself.

You may not be able to think of anything at first, but don’t panic. Start by thinking of things you don’t hate about yourself. Perhaps you have a meal you know how to cook best or take excellent care of your pet.

Keep this list somewhere you can have easy access to every day. When self-hatred thoughts arise, stop, take a deep breath, and say one of the items on your list out loud.

4. Reframe Your Negative Thoughts

This is a therapy technique that is quite common. It is used to address self-hatred and negative thoughts.

It is usually done simply by changing your thoughts to a slightly different perspective. It may involve thinking about the advantages even in a bad situation or considering frustration in a new light.

Here, you train your brain to focus only on the positive. Instead of saying a statement like, “I’m so bad at speaking publicly,” you could rephrase the statement to, “I don’t feel like I spoke well today.”

Yes, it is a small change. But it takes an all or nothing statement and reframes it as a single instance.

With this, the negativity would not feel permanent. This shows that messing up is only at that instance, and it means you accept that you can do better next time.

Anytime you feel like saying, “I hate myself,” shelve the thought and think of a little way that you can rephrase that statement to make it more positive.

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5. Spend Time With People That Make You Feel Happy

Most times, self-hatred comes with the intense desire to isolate yourself. You may feel that you shouldn’t be around your friends or family, or you may feel that no one wants to be near you.

The negative internal dialogue encourages you to believe that withdrawing from social situations is the best action. However, this is counterproductive.

Connecting with others is a significant way to dispel negative thoughts as it helps you feel better about yourself. When you are with people you can easily share laughter with, you are more in tune with an environment that makes you feel valued.

You can combat negative thoughts of self-hatred by spending time with friends or relatives. Take a short walk together, watch a movie, or just go for coffee.

You have no one to contact? Consider talking to others who face similar problems online. There are several online groups for people dealing with a variety of problems.

6. Do Not Hesitate to Ask for Help

Remember, you are never alone on your mental health journey. There is always someone who has been where you are at one time or another.

Most people need a little help getting through tough situations of self-hatred. It is a good idea to seek the help of a mental health expert.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help from professionals. It is one of the best ways to learn to manage your self-hatred and negative internal dialogue.

Final Thoughts

I urge you to feel more confident in your body. As you pursue this goal of discovering your true self, an increase in critical inner voices and anxiety is a high possibility.

However, you must not give up on challenging this inner enemy. No matter how much the negative thoughts of self-hatred come in, be more resolute in confessing your love for yourself.

With time, this voice will become weaker, and you will be able to free yourself from these feelings. You can then open the door to a more fulfilling existence.

Learn to Love Yourself

Featured photo credit: Allef Vinicius via unsplash.com

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Jacqueline T. Hill

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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