top of page

The Queen of Self Hate

I used to secretly call myself the Queen of Self Hate.

My internal voice was a blend of all the negative things anyone had ever said to me (yes, I hold onto stuff too long). It was super uncomfortable and kept me in a state of low self-esteem and feeling unworthy of love.

In all honestly, it took me about two years of really working on it every single day to eradicate my negative self-talk by 80%, and another few years to get to 99%.

I’ve been working on it for about 20 years now, and it very rarely happens at all anymore, and it’s so chill now. The last one I remember was a couple of months ago when I dropped something in the kitchen and thought, “You’re so clumsy!” I felt the leading edge of feeling bad about myself and stopped to address the thought. I said to myself, “Is that true? And answered, “No, it’s not. In fact, you have great balance and often catch things while they are falling. You are not clumsy.”

This thought was so mild in comparison to how I used to think. I used to tell myself that I was stupid, wasn’t going to succeed at anything, didn’t deserve good things, and was so terribly harsh about my appearance. I wished that I had an entirely different body type for decades. It was so uncomfortable. I don’t go there anymore.

There are a few key practices that helped me shift. All of them are about changing your focus.

The groundwork is to realize that:

1. Your negative self-talk is a protection mechanism.

2. It is outdated.

Then, you can begin.

First, find a photo of yourself as a small child. Believe it or not, your protection mechanism was probably installed before the age of 7, so that’s the level of awareness that you need to speak to first.

I found a photo of myself sitting on a log looking very serious.

Then, find some quiet time and really sense into that small self. See if you can remember any sensations or thoughts from that age, remember what it felt like. Once you feel connected, speak directly to that child.

What did you need to hear? What mattered to them? I tell my small self that we are safe, that we have a great dog, that we get to do fun projects, and that we are nice to people and people are nice to us.

Keep it simple. What you are doing here is working with your subconscious. See if you can do this for just a minute or two every day. First thing in the morning or last thing before bed are the best times, but whenever you can do it is fine.

The next tip is to see if you can catch the negative thoughts and label them as negative. You don’t have to do anything, just find a tiny space to acknowledge, “Oh! That was a negative thought!” And then move on. This creation of space will be useful later.

Do these first two steps for a few months, seriously. Then, when they feel comfortable, add in talking back to the negative thoughts.

Be super overt and direct. If you call yourself stupid, answer back by asking if that is true in all situations, and remind yourself of times when you made good decisions. Build evidence in your defense. If you tell yourself that you are mean, remind yourself of times when you were kind. You get the idea.

One of the most difficult types of negative self-talk to overcome is about your body. I’m going to resist getting on my soapbox about our societally driven unrealistic photoshopped expectations, but seriously, we are human animals with huge a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Please don’t let mainstream media influence your self-image.

What helped me in the beginning was to find something I liked. I like my eye color. I like how strong my legs are. I can walk a long time. I’m happy that I can breathe well, because that wasn’t always true. This kind of stuff.  Later, when my self-appreciation was more practiced, I got braver.

I looked at myself in the mirror and asked, “ok, you think you want a thigh gap (not a possibility, even when I am very fit)? Let’s imagine that. What would that look and feel like? It turns out that it would look really weird and unmatched with the rest of me, and didn’t feel grounded, which is a feeling I really like.

All that being said, a healthy body helps. Focusing on walking every day or working out, or dancing… just moving. A study recently told us that most antidepressants work 40% of the time, and exercise decreases depression 80% of the time. Wow. It doesn’t have to be intense or unpleasant. What do you like to do? Ride a bike, do yoga, walk the dog, an online dance class? Making progress in your life in health-oriented ways is very valuable when you are working on self-regard because it helps you feel better, and when you feel better you are less apt to be negative.

As an experiment, overtly treat yourself like someone you care about. Make friends with yourself. Wear your favorite colors. Let yourself do your favorite things. Give yourself a thoughtful present. You might be surprised how cool you are.

1 commentaire

Thank you for writing this, my friend. A number of years ago, I began doing what I call “a gathering of selves.” Maybe I shared that with you at one time. I sit and in a huge circle with myself at all ages from a newborn on my left to the man I was just yesterday. We sit and we smile at one another and we watch each other heal, egging each other on, knowing that the healing travels forward as well as backwards - time travelers, all!

That simple practice has worked miracle for my self-esteem. And the boy who was me at 13 is now carrying himself differently in that circle of selves and that aids me as…

bottom of page