“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.”
– Andrew Matthews
Self-hate is probably the most painful and destructive emotion a person can experience. It has it’s roots in the formative years of childhood where we see ourselves through the mirror of other people’s eyes. If love and acceptance do not out-weigh the negative perceptions we are given, self-hate can become a life-long struggle. Childhood abuse compounds self-hate to a point that people sometimes find no way out of the perpetual cycle of heartache and sorrow; indeed, many choose to end their own lives.
Self-hate can be observed in not taking care of our physical bodies, being out of touch with our true emotions, not having healthy boundaries, consistently putting other peoples needs above our own, not really knowing our true authentic self because we have spent so many years molding ourselves to the whims of others, staying in abusive and unhealthy relationships, not trusting our own perceptions, allowing others to dictate our lives, and even more obvious ways such as inflicting harm to self and constant critical and demeaning inner dialogue about self.
People who have been raised with sufficient love and acceptance have no idea the deep and injurious wounds self-haters are inflicted by. They are invisible to the naked eye and many times healthy people unwittingly inflict them further through indifference and ignorance. But even so, unless one becomes committed to self-love, unless you can make that determination that you are going to be your own best friend, all the love in the world given by others will continually be filtered by those core beliefs forged in the flames of an agonizing childhood.
There is only one way to fully overcome self-hate and that is through self-love. Yet, having battled this myself, I understand how completely futile that can feel. How does one learn to love themselves when they do not have any idea what that looks like or feels like? These are the things we have to work on through allowing ourselves to take deep introspective evaluation on how we really feel about ourselves and why and by consistently writing in our journals about what we find. It takes courage. It takes determination. Indeed, genuine self love begins with a deep commitment to yourself and your life.
My own childhood was riddled with emotional and physical abuse and turmoil. As a teenager I took a black marker and scribbled my face out of a school yearbook. I would look myself in the mirror and scream at the girl I saw, “I HATE YOU!”
As and adult I thought I had moved on and left it all behind, until depression overtook me in my 40’s. When I began to do the inward work, to my surprise there was still a lot of volatile self-hatred buried deep inside. At times, the thought of death felt like the best possible release from such agonizing inner conflict. But I was determined to get through it and learn to love myself. Through therapy, through courageously looking at the truth of where I really was, through consistently questioning everything I believed about myself, through processing my thoughts in a journal, a lot of crying, and trusting in some outside support, I turned that completely around. Today, I can honestly say that I am my own best friend and I believe I have the best friend in the world! And I so want to pass on the treasure of genuine self-love to you.
Through my personal experience, I have learned that self-love is the single most important art you can ever teach yourself for within self-love are found the keys that unlock every other prison door and sets you on and adventurous path of living life to the fullest. Without genuine self-love there is no lasting happiness or fulfillment. But with a good healthy dose of self love you will begin to come alive and life will begin to illuminate its magic within your heart!