Identifying Your Self-Hate

Self-hate is the enemy of positive self-talk. In my previous posts I talked about your inner negative voice, and in this next series of posts I’m going to try and explain the source of that inner negative voice: self-hate.

Self-hate inarguably transcends countries, continents, and cultures. You can see examples of it all over the world.

This is how I define self-hate:

Self-hate is the firm belief that satisfying your own needs makes you a bad or unworthy person.

Self-hate is the source of our inner negative voice. It points out all of our flaws, it tells us that we aren’t “perfect” and that not being perfect is a bad thing, and worst of all:

It tells us the only way we can change is to punish ourselves.

What’s the source of all this self-hate? Why are we sick with it?

What happens in your mind when you really WANT something for yourself? When you feel like you NEED it? What does you inner negative voice start telling you?

 “You’re lazy.”

 “You’re disgusting.”

“You don’t deserve that.”

“Do you really think you have time for that?”

“Why should YOU have what YOU want when others have nothing?”


It starts telling you that your needs and desires are bad.  Self-denial and senseless self criticism is self-hate. Those are a few examples of what self-hate can sound like, but it can also be very, very sneaky.

If you’re watching TV and see an ad for an exercise machine or program and think:

“I should really exercise more” or “Gosh, I’m lazy” or “Why did I ever stop exercising?

This is also self-hate, although a more subtle form of it.

Self-hate begins when we’re young. You’re not born with it; self hate is taught to us. Our parents, relatives, and siblings teach it to us. Not because they don’t like us, but because it is the only thing they know.

And when we’re children, we do one thing very, very well: Absorb. When you were a kid, you were a little sponge with legs. You ran around, questioning everything, always asking “Why?”, until someone told you it wasn’t polite/good/nice to ask “Why?” all the time.

How many adults do you know who still have their childlike sense of wonder and unlimited curiosity?


As children, we absorb the norms of the society we grow up in. Religion, political views, accents, and more. Of course, some of us absorb these things at different levels. But there is a baseline. We are largely a product of our cultural environment.

Most of us absorbed this pattern of self-hate. The voices I used as examples above, and the voices you hear in your head when you’re guilty about having a need, what do they sound like?

Do they sound like your parents? Grandparents? Teachers? Friends? Peers?

I’m willing to bet that they do. Because that is where self hate stems from. It’s passed down from generation to generation.

It’s the idea that the best way to motivate people to be better people is with with force and negativity, rather than reward, praise, and encouragement.

This is a semi-famous quote that I’ve posted on my Facebook page several times:

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” -Peggy O’Mara

Do you understand yet? Self-hate, your inner negative voice, they are a cruel joke being played on you and everyone you know. And it’s not something you need to live with anymore.

In Part 2 of this series I’m going to talk about some direct ways to understand your own self-hate, and approach yourself with compassion instead of criticism.

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Debra BeckDebra Beck is a devoted mother, sought-after presenter, author, and has spent over 20 years working with teens and their parents. She’s helped thousands of teen girls develop their self-esteem through her blog, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and mother-daughter retreats.

Her award-winning book My Feet Aren’t Ugly: A Girl’s Guide to Loving Herself was revised and updated for re-release in September 2011 with Beaufort Books.


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