Even though happiness is a blurry concept that many of us can’t grasp fully, we all seek it in some ways. According to Buddhism, it comes from a certain peace of mind. Other school of thoughts believe that it comes from the outside world and what we get from our circumstances. No matter where the truth lies, one thing is certain: happiness cannot be achieved if you can’t stop hating yourself.
Self-love is necessary to achieve anything in life. And it helps us going through adversity. If you’re constantly beating yourself up for making mistakes, then chances are you won’t ever try again: this will translate to the results you’ll get. I’ve had those times in my life too: being frustrated with myself for not being good enough. But it wasn’t until I actually loved myself that my life transformed.
Let’s talk about ways you can stop hating yourself.
1 – Affirmations
Affirmations are a double-edged sword. Some people strongly believe in it and credit their life transformation to it, while others says it didn’t have much impact. I believe that the truth lies in between.
First, you shouldn’t just say affirmations like a broken robot, repeating, ‘’I’m happy I’m happy I’m happy’’. No matter how many times you say it doesn’t matter, intensity does. You see, I’ve noticed big changes myself by actually using my body along. This means showing your best smile and pumping yourself up as if you were actually happy.
FAKE IT ‘TILL YOU MAKE IT
A lot of people have contradictory opinions about this saying. Some assert that it doesn’t work while others say it does. In my case, I would say it depends. I’ve done it countless times in my life, and it has worked for the most part. But there were times where it didn’t work as well.
It all depends on what you say and how it affects you as a person, and since everyone is different, only you can find out. As for me, I can remember repeating the ‘’I’m happy’’ stuff when I was depressed, and it actually made me feel worse. It would remind me that I’m not happy, and the more I was saying it, the more I could feel it wasn’t true at all: and so I felt worse off.
In fact, some studies have shown that using negative sentences (even though the intent is positive) doesn’t work either, as the subconscious mind only registers keywords. So, if you were to say, ‘’I’m not stupid’’, your brain would actually register, ‘’I AM stupid’’.
Why am I recommending that you should try affirmations after telling you all of that? Well, I believe that there’s tremendous power in the subconscious mind, and hearing something again and again will definitely change you in some ways. I just want to warn you that you should be careful of what you actually say to yourself if you want to truly stop hating yourself.
Instead of trying to change yourself drastically such as by saying, ‘’I LOVE myself’’, which may worsen how you feel about yourself, what about trying to point out something you specifically like about yourself? Little by little, it will translate into self-love. Here is a list of affirmations I believe can help you if said on a daily basis with intensity (WARNING: only use those which you believe in). Note that the best affirmations would be those you create yourself, as they would be customised to your situation.
- I’m a good human being
- I am perseverant
- I am doing my best with the resources I have
- I am creative
- I am strong
2 – Change Your Focus
Any feelings that you have at any moment in time is largely due to the things you’re focusing on. How can you expect to stop hating yourself if you constantly think about how you screwed up or aren’t good enough? Our thoughts determine our emotions, so choose them wisely.
If you break the pattern enough times, negative self-talk will become a blurry, distant memory. It doesn’t mean looking away from the problem if there is one. I encourage you to find solutions to your problems, but focusing all your energy on negative thoughts will not only prevent you from finding a solution, it will also bring you down. I have personally made this mistake countless times in my life.
There are various ways to go about it, some of which are:
Our brain is like a computer: no matter what questions you ask, it will find an answer. Even if it has to make it up. So, instead of asking yourself disempowering questions which will only make you focus on negative answers, ask a positive question. You may not realise that you’re doing this, but telling yourself ‘’I screwed up. I’m stupid.’’, is the result of asking some questions, ‘’Why did I do that? What kind of person does that?” Your brain just has learned to take shortcuts, and so here comes the answer first. ”I’m stupid, that’s why!”
Ask the right questions, and you’ll get the right answers!
DO SOMETHING ELSE
Have you ever forgotten your sadness, anger or any other negative emotions after being absorbed in a particular task? It’s because activities can change our focus too!
Just be careful that you don’t indulge in harmful bahaviour: eating junk food, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes.. Far from stopping to hate yourself, it will make you feel worse.
TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS
Or if you don’t have any, your family. Or your dog. It doesn’t matter who it is, but just talk to someone about anything but the source of your negative emotions. Friends are a great help because they can help us changing our focus almost instantly.
If you’re not a meditation fan and don’t know how to do it, that’s okay. Just sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. That’s right, focus on it. Before you know it, you’ll have a calm, distraction-free mind!
DON’T LET BAD THOUGHTS PROLIFERATE
Negative thoughts, and eventually negative self-talk, always stems from the same thing: one thought. Not two, three or four.. but one. ‘’God, I screwed up,” might be the first one. And if that was enough, all would be good. But we sometimes have the tendency to build on our thoughts and cling into them, which is another of saying proliferate. ‘’I can’t believe I’m that stupid,’’ becomes the next thought. Then comes, ‘’Why am I always like this?” And the more they proliferate, the worse you feel.
The solution? Just acknowledge that first thought, and let it go. Don’t hold on to it. “God, I screwed up. I’ll do better next time, let’s move on on.”
3 – Break Your Pattern
I’ve talked a little bit about it above, but it’s definitely worth going more in depth. Hating yourself is the result of a habit: negative self-talk, which is the true enemy: what you need to stop doing. The only way to stop indulging in this behaviour is to break the pattern. Just like a record which wouldn’t play if you scratched it enough, scratch this CD of yours! The more you will break this pattern and the more difficult it will be for you to re-enter into that state.
What does breaking your pattern even mean, you may ask. It’s just about interrupting yourself each time you catch yourself being negative (and hence change your focus). It doesn’t matter how you choose to interrupt yourself, as long as it’s not a behavior that you’re used to doing at this moment in time. It can be as simple as suddenly standing up and yelling, ‘’I’m the king of the world!’’, as silly as it sounds. Or just start dancing. It should be shocking, or weird enough to induce a state change within yourself.If it makes you laugh, it’s even better! Just scratch that freaking CD until you can’t play it anymore!
4 – Make A List
What do you like about yourself? Write it down, and find as many as you can. At first, your answer may be ‘’nothing!’’, but I guarantee you that if you think hard enough, you will find. Ideally, you’ll want to read this list once a day, or even more. If you can’t come up with ideas, just look on the internet a list of common qualities. Here is a short list to get you started:
This technique is based on the ‘’focus your mind on the right things’’ strategy, and takes it even one step further: it links positive feelings to your own self-image. Obviously, it takes more time than a day or two for this to work fully – especially if you’ve been criticising yourself for the past few years. But as time goes by, this will better the way you look at yourself.
5 – Sharpen Your Skills
I don’t know about your skills, but I had none when I couldn’t stop hating myself. I was a high-school drop out, with little English skills – French being my mother tongue – and that was about it. One component of the change I underwent was due to improving myself. Simply studying happiness and self-development in general, as well as writing and speaking in English more often just considerably increased my self-esteem.
Suddenly, I would find myself not being bad at everything and quite knowledgeable in one or two aspect of life. Sure, I would sometimes feel frustrated for not being perfect – and it still happens – but I would always go back to that self-esteem I had previously built.
If you don’t know what your passion is, then try a lot of different things until you find something worth diving deep into!
6 – Have A Supportive Environment
I know it can be difficult to stay away from family or friends, but it’s a necessary step if you find that there’s too much negativity around them.
Although a coach pushing you to do your best is good, someone who makes you feel bad by doing so isn’t. Though I am one of those who believe that happiness comes from within and that we shouldn’t let our external circumstances influence us, I also do believe that no matter how hard we try, we still get influenced at some levels by our environment.
Don’t take the risk and keep away from anyone that doesn’t help you move forward. Healthy, supportive people that push us to be the best version of ourselves is what you should be aiming for.
7 – Be Grateful
Sometimes, the best solutions can also be the simplest. There may be no need for fancy techniques and strategies as long as you practice one fundamental of happiness: being grateful.
If you’re used to taking things for granted, good things could happen to you and you may not even realise it. Instead of looking for amazing abilities that you may not have yet or a perfect look, be grateful for what you have.
When I first started being grateful, I didn’t really feel anything. Truth be told, I still have a hard time feeling it even to this day – my brain has be so much conditioned by garbage that it has left scars. But it’s a long-term process: understand that the changes won’t be overnight, but it will eventually turn into self-love.
Here’s an exercise for you: everyday, think about 3 things you’re grateful for. And ideally, you’ll want to write them down and pick different ones every day, to challenge yourself. There’s no point in becoming more if you can’t acknowledge what you already are.
Using these 7 ways, which helped me tremendously during tough times, you will stop hating yourself and finally live life happy.