Why Do I Hate Myself?

By February 20, 2013Depression

Answering the question “Why Do I Hate Myself?”

Hello, my name is Noah Elkrief; and in this video I’m going to answer the question, “Why do I hate myself?” and “How to stop hating yourself?” I’m going to provide you with 9 different reasons and explanations to help show you why you hate yourself, and how to stop hating yourself is going to be embedded within that.

1) You don’t hate yourself in every moment

When you say “I hate myself”, it is said as if this is some permanent thing, as if this is some factual part of your existence. “I hate myself”—that’s true and factual—“I hate myself”. Let me ask you a question. Do you hate yourself in every moment? When you’re having fun, do you hate yourself? When you’re enjoying yourself: when you’re watching TV, when you’re playing video games, when you’re eating something you like, when you’re with friends and having fun with them, when you’re playing a sport, when you’re dancing, do you hate yourself in all of those moments? Probably not.

I’m sure there are some breaks in your life when you don’t hate yourself. When we say “I hate myself”, it seems really powerful and strong as if that’s some factual, consistent, steady, and stable part of our existence. But that’s not true.

When a thought arises that says “I hate myself” we feel hatred towards ourselves and shame. But, when that thought doesn’t pop up in our minds, there is no feeling of hating ourselves. It’s not as though hating ourselves is part of who we are, and therefore that’s going to be part of our life forever. Hatred comes and goes as thoughts come and go. The feeling of hatred stays exactly as long as the thought “I hate myself” keeps our attention. When that thought doesn’t show up in our minds, we are already fine with ourselves and life. In addition, in any moment that we’re distracted by from the thought that says “I hate myself”, we feel fine. There is no hatred at all.

Hating ourselves only exists as a thought, not as a fact. This is why you don’t feel hatred when you are distracted from your thoughts through entertainment, food, or some other thing that you enjoy.

2) You are not the one who hates yourself

The second thing to understand about hating yourself is to be clear about who is the one hating. When you say “I hate myself”, there are two characters there. There is the “I” that hates, and the one that is being hated. So, which one are you? And which is the one that hates?

When a thought doesn’t show up in our minds, there is no hatred at all. When our full attention is on TV, music, or video games, there is no hatred. We are just here being as we are.

But, then thoughts pop up and say “I hate that I do this”, “I hate that I’m like”, “I hate that my life is like”. As soon as thoughts say “I hate”, hatred appears. You exist in every moment, but hatred only exists when a thought pops up to say “I hate”. Therefore, thoughts are hating here, not you. Because when those thoughts aren’t here, there’s no hate. When the thought is here, there is hate.

3) The thoughts that hate aren’t you or yours

Who is this one that hates? Thoughts. But are these thoughts yours? Well, did you pick the thought I hate myself? Did you look into a basket of potential thoughts and then pick the one that says “I hate myself” to put into your mind. No, of course not. It just showed up. Where did it come from? You have no idea. One second there’s no thought here, the next second there is.

The most important thing to you and every human being is to have peace and happiness. Therefore, you would never choose to have a thought show up in your mind that hates. Why would you? It creates suffering, not peace. Nobody wants to hate themselves.

Since you didn’t pick to have the thought “I hate myself”, it has nothing to do with you. That thought is not yours.

4) Thoughts hate because society teaches us million ideas of “good” and “bad”

Why thoughts show up to hate? It all comes from our conditioning. In other words, our unique set of experiences in life, our life history. When you were young, when you were two-years-old, did you hate yourself? No, almost certainly not. We’re all just going through life enjoying ourselves at: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 more-or-less. Just having fun, regardless of whether we’re fat or skinny, we’re just there being ourselves. If we’re overweight, we don’t feel ashamed about being overweight, we’re just whatever weight we are. If we’re shy, we don’t feel it’s bad that we’re shy, we’re just happy as we are.

But, then what happens is we get taught all of these ideas of “perfect”, all of these ideas of the way things “should be”, and the “right way”. We learn that skinny is “good”; but fat is “bad”. So, then, if we’re overweight, we say that “it’s bad I’m overweight”; and we learn to hate ourselves. We learn that “shy is bad” and “outgoing is good”. So, then, if we’re shy, we learn to feel ashamed and hate ourselves. We learn that being in a relationship is “perfect”, being single is “bad”. When we’re young, before we learn that, of course we’re happy. It doesn’t matter that we’re single. But then, once we learn this, we feel bad about being single.

When thoughts say “I hate myself that I’m like this”, “it’s bad that I’m like that”, “it’s not good enough that my life is like this”, all of that is just comparing our life to what our particular society and upbringing has taught is the “right”, “perfect”, and “good” way to be and live.

5) You can stop believing the thoughts that hate

If someone approached you on the street and said “There is going to be a big earthquake in 5 minutes”, how would you react? Well, if you believed them, you might feel afraid. But, if you didn’t believe them, you would feel nothing. The same is true with the words in your mind, when you believe the words in your mind, they create emotions. But, when you don’t believe those words, they don’t create emotions.

When a stranger approaches you and says something, you don’t just automatically believe them. You would evaluate whether they were trustworthy, and you would look for evidence to see if what they are saying is true. However, when it comes to the thoughts in your mind, you automatically just believe everything that is said. We need to approach thoughts with the same skepticism as we would the words of a stranger.

When a thought says “Something about me is bad” or “It is bad that I do this” or “It is bad that I live here” or “It is bad that I don’t have that”, you just believe that this must be true. It showed up in your mind, so it just must be true. But, how do you know it’s true? How do you know it’s bad to act like this, live like this etc? What is the evidence that it is bad? Where did that thought come from?

In order to see that this thought might not be true, you could ask yourself “Can I think of a few reasons or examples as to why the opposite could be true?” Or, you could ask yourself “Could somebody else think the opposite?” You might think something about you or your life is “bad” because the people around you also think it is “bad”. But, this is the case because you have all been trained in the same way, by the same media, culture, etc.

So you think you’re boring, but somebody might think you’re fun. In some cultures, they consider it to be “good” to have more fat or weight in certain areas, and think it is “bad” to be skinny. In some societies in Asia, they consider to be “bad” to have darker skin, whereas in America, everyone wants to get a tan and think it is “bad” to be pale skinned. Some cultures decide it is best to get married in low 20s, some think in late 30s. Some cultures think it is “best” to become wealthy and successful, while others decide that this is selfish and “bad” way to live. Some people want a shy and introspective romantic partner, some want an outgoing one.

No belief about what is “good” and “bad” are true and real. They are all perspectives based on where and how you were raised. It’s all just beliefs. Just beliefs of what we were taught. The thoughts just come from society, from the media, from parents, and everything else we were exposed to in our life. There is nothing about you or your life that is actually “bad”.

6) You’re not to blame for your thoughts because you don’t pick them

Since these thoughts come from what we’re taught; we don’t control them. They’re not our fault. You didn’t decide to be brought up with the parents you had. You didn’t decide to be brought up in the place, or in the society that you had. You didn’t decide what the TV shows and movies taught you. You didn’t decide any of that. Therefore, you don’t control the thoughts that arise in your mind. If every person, movie, and magazine didn’t teach you that skinny was good , fat is bad; shy is bad, outgoing is good; big houses mean you’re successful, small houses means you’re a failure; married is best, single is bad; then you wouldn’t have any of these thoughts/beliefs.  The same is true with every single idea your mind has about what is a “bad” way to look, act, speak, and interact… what types of jobs, living situations, and marital status are “bad”.

But if you didn’t get a choice in what beliefs you were taught, then you didn’t pick what thoughts show up in your mind. You don’t control the thoughts that come up. And that means something. Do you know what that means? That means it’s not your fault that you seem to hate yourself.

It’s not your fault that all of these negative thoughts are going on in your mind. It has nothing to do with you. So you can let yourself off of the hook. It doesn’t mean that you’re stupid that you hate yourself. It doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you, that you hate yourself. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s not personal. You were just brought up in a society that taught you a million ideas about what is “bad”.

7) The hated qualities don’t exist in reality

The fifth thing to look at with hating ourselves is to investigate the qualities that we hate. First of all, where do these qualities exist? So we think “I am shy”, where does that exist in this moment? Shyness. Can you see it? Can you touch it? “I am shy”. It’s only a thought, it’s not real. “I am unlikeable”. Where does unlikeable exist? Show me it, find it. “I am unlikeable”. Does it exist as a fact? Is it real? “I am boring”. Where does boring exist? How do you know? Where does failure exist? You think, “I am a failure.” Show me failure. Does it exist in reality? Is it tangible? Is it factual? Show me. Where is it? Can you find it? Locate it. It’s just a thought, it’s not real. All these qualities that we think are factually who we are truly only exist in our imagination.

The strange thing about this is that the qualities we hate aren’t even qualities at all. They’re just thoughts, that come sometimes, and then go. If the only time “I am boring” exists is when a thought shows up, then that can’t be who you are. If the only time “I am a failure” exists is when a thought says it, then it can’t be who you are. Your hand continues to exist whether or not you’re thinking about it because it is a real thing. It is not a figment of your imagination.

8) The qualities that are hated are not who you are

To approach this from a different angle, you are always you. You have always been you. When you were born, were you you? When you were five, were you you? When you were ten, were you you? Of course, you were always you. Throughout changes to your body, feelings, thoughts, actions, and everything you were always there. There was something that never changed, the fundamental you. You have always been there. Therefore, if something comes and goes, while you remain, then that thing can’t be you.

For example, you may think “I am shy. That is who I am”. But, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions: “Am I always shy? Or sometimes am I outgoing with some people, and then I’m shy with others? Am I outgoing in some situations? At some ages was I not shy?” If shyness is here sometimes, and not here at all during other times, then that can’t be a part of who you are. You have always been you. So, you can’t BE shy, you can’t BE boring because you weren’t that in every moment. In some moments there is shyness and other moments outgoingness, but that isn’t who you are.

You exist right now, therefore anything that doesn’t exist right now isn’t real or you. So, where is hated quality right now?

9) Separating the facts from your thoughts about the facts

To show you the difference between facts and thoughts, please take a moment to look at my nose in the video above. Now tell me, is it an attractive nose or an ugly nose? The truth is that attractive and ugly don’t exist as part of the facts. If you think it is ugly, ugly doesn’t exist as part of the nose. The nose is located in NY (most of the time), but “ugly” is located in your mind wherever you are. “Ugly” is not part of the nose, the facts, or reality. “Ugly” is a thought about a fact. It is a concept.

When we say that we are suffering because something about our life or who we are is “bad”, we are saying that the facts have made me unhappy. But, the facts haven’t made you unhappy. You have confused the facts with your thoughts about the facts. “Bad” doesn’t exist as part of the facts. That is a strong about the facts. We superimpose “bad” (or “ugly”) onto the facts and claim it is actually part of what we are seeing.

The facts themselves are completely neutral. There’s nothing to hate about yourself because you’re just here being. Who are you? We’re just here, being; nothing else. There is nothing “bad” about you in reality. “Bad” only exists as a thought about something.

I hope this post about how to stop hating yourself was helpful

So why we hate ourselves is because we follow the thoughts in our mind and believe that they’re true. But it has nothing to do with us because we didn’t pick the thoughts, we didn’t put them in our minds, and we didn’t control the teachers (formal and informal) that told us what is good and bad.

Now, come back to this moment. You’re just here; nothing “bad”, nothing to hate.

I hope you found that helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you, just let me know how this went for you.

Noah Elkrief