How can I stop hating myself?

Q: How can I stop hating myself?

A: Well . . . this is a huge question. Each of us might deal with a different version of this issue. For me, every time I looked in the mirror or caught a glimpse of myself in a store window, an intense, all-encompassing feeling of self-loathing would come over me. I’d think things like, “You’re so ugly, you don’t even deserve to live on this planet!” This self-hatred expressed itself in various self-destructive behaviors, including a full-blown eating disorder and hurting myself, to name just two. So, what to do about it?

It might help to look at how we see ourselves. Do we see ourselves as stupid, ugly, “less than”? The world puts an impossible standard out there for us to live up to. Social media is filled with pretty, smart, talented examples parading themselves across our screens in highlight reels and filtered photos. It’s hard not to compare ourselves with what we see. But it’s still not a good idea. Why? Because there will always be people who seem prettier, smarter, more talented than we are.

Do we see ourselves as stupid, ugly, “less than”? 

So, if measuring ourselves against others isn’t effective, what is? Something that helped me a lot was to take a different approach to the way I was seeing myself—a spiritual approach. This involved a shift from comparisons and self-criticism to looking at things from God’s perspective.

A book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures written by Mary Baker Eddy helped me do this. When I first started reading Science and Health, I was surprised to learn that I was special to God. Wow! Not more or less special than others, but special because I was loved and therefore lovable. God created me, along with everyone else, to be unique and complete, with gifts and talents only I could share. Here’s how Science and Health explains it: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (p. 477). 

It took some time for this to sink in. But I learned that I didn’t have to compare myself with others to try to make myself feel better. Instead, I asked God to show me me. In other words, I prayed to see myself from God’s perspective rather than relying on my own view of things to tell me how I should feel about myself. It made all the difference.  

Because these self-hating thoughts didn’t come from God, they weren’t legitimate.

What I discovered is that each of us is God’s child. We aren’t limited, not-good-enough, always-struggling individuals. We can be sure of success because we have infinite resources available to us. Because we reflect God, the source of all good, we have access to all this good. And prayerfully identifying ourselves as God’s child, as His spiritual creation, lifts us out of the not-good-enough image we might have of ourselves, which can result in self-hatred.

This shift in the way we think about ourselves may not come all of a sudden. For me, it was a gradual thing. The first step was identifying these self-hating thoughts and recognizing that they weren’t helpful. Then I saw that because they didn’t come from God, they weren’t legitimate; they were simply a habit, and one I wanted to break.

The way I broke this habit was to use those moments when I felt self-hatred as opportunities to replace those thoughts with the God-inspired view of myself that I’d been gaining. It was a conscious, spiritual re-identification of myself. And slowly but surely, it brought freedom.

One day it occurred to me that I really didn’t hate myself anymore. All that energy spent in self-loathing was now available for me to use in more constructive ways. What a relief. I felt like I could get on with my life, leaving behind the eating disorder and self-harm, too. And things opened up for me career-wise in ways I could never have dreamed possible. This wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed in the fog of self-hatred. 

To anyone reading this, I’d like to say: Please don’t let yourself stay in the place of self-hatred. You deserve better. Being willing to let God tell you about you will change your life. It will lead you out of darkness, depression, and hopelessness and open up incredible possibilities. As they say, “The sky’s the limit.” How does that sound? I promise it’s there for you!

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