Notes to Self

Thoughts on psychology, spirituality and soft skill development for personal improvement


Self Hatred vs Self Love

"It doesn't matter what we do until we accept ourselves. Once we accept ourselves, it doesn't matter what we do." - Charly Heavenrich

Everyone realizes that we need to change to grow. And we often start by trying to change what we dislike about ourselves. But also often, we get too obsessive about changing this thing that we don't like about ourselves in our quest towards self improvement. And because of this obsessing the dislike grows to hatred, over time, about that "damn negative habit or flaw in me".

Some people believe that this self hatred is good for them. They believe that it gives them an extra 'incentive' to change, a motivational drive so to speak. But more often then not, the stronger this hatred gets the more it impedes our personal growth.

If you believe in using self-hatred to change yourself, you probably flog yourself psychologically, every time you perceive that you have failed. That is, you believe failure should be punished first before you can continue on. What happens however is, that after you punish yourself, you lose a little motivation. You tell yourself that you will "rest and recover" from this self-flogging before continuing on to focus on the hurdle that caused your failure. But often you will procrastinate, because you start fearing failure - failure means more punishment.

Mentally, since the thoughts of punishment is fearful, you don't focus on why you failed. And then you start fooling yourself - since every time you fail, you flog yourself (believing you are doing something "constructive"), a false perception is created that you are actually doing something about changing yourself. After all, every time you fail, you are punishing yourself with increased self-loathing.

In reality, you get trapped in a vicious cycle where every time you fail (and you often will because you aren't really working on the real problem) you increase your self hatred to punish yourself. And at one point, in frustration you will just give up - thinking it's impossible to change the very 'real flaw' in you - and you just end up with the self hatred, resigned of any hope of making any change or 'improvement'.

The only way to not get trapped in this cycle of self hatred is to understand that we first need to accept ourselves. While changing the way we feel or do something for the better is important, the other equally integral goal to achieve personal growth is self-acceptance.

We need to learn to accept and love ourselves as a flawed and imperfect human. We need to accept our strengths as well as our weakness without a sense of shame or embarrassment. Success has its benefits. But it is our shortcomings that give us the opportunity to connect with others. After all, how can you genuinely care for and understand someone if you haven't gone through the same experiences and feelings of ups and downs yourself?

No human is without flaws. It is a reality of life and until one accepts that, change is difficult. A confident person, someone who is secure with himself, is one who has accepted himself for what he is now (not what he could be or desires to be).

Self-acceptance does not mean you can't change things you dislike; rather it is a process of change that realistically takes into consideration both your strengths and weakness together, and not as separate 'entities'. Without self-acceptance, someone who wants to change will obsesses on the negative, missing out on everything good and positive about themselves.

Related » Self-Esteem