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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?
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“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.

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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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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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