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“I hate myself.”
When the person you love and are spending your life with proclaims “I hate myself,” it’s clear that they’re hurting, but they may not know why. It’s excruciating to watch someone you’re madly in love with express self-loathing. All you want to do is save them from those dark feelings. Whether they’re related to depression or low self-esteem, it doesn’t matter. They’re in pain, and your impulse is to want to fix the problem. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do. Let’s look at the reason that a person might express self-loathing, and what you can do to support them.
Why people hate themselves
Why do people hate themselves? Self-hatred doesn’t happen overnight. A person who expresses negative self-talk has likely been engaging in this behavior for a long time, if not years. They may have received the message from a family member that they were “worthless” as a child. Verbal abuse severely impacts a person’s self-esteem. When parents or guardians continually tell a child that they’re “not good enough,” or “useless,” the child begins to believe these false statements. They internalize the message that they’re a “bad person,” and start engaging in self-loathing, which can continue into adulthood and won’t relent unless the person goes to therapy or actively works on their self-esteem in other ways.
What can you do as a partner?
As the partner of someone who has been through abuse, you can remind your loved one of their positive qualities. Tell the person what you appreciate about them. Counteract what their abuser told them, and fight criticism with love.
Depression or mood disorders
Sometimes self-hatred comes from within a person’s mind or brain chemistry. When someone suffers from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD, their brain may be telling them lies about themselves. Maybe they’re having trouble doing things that neurotypical people do. For example, someone with social anxiety has difficulty leaving the house to meet a friend. They become frustrated with their behavior, and think “I hate myself.” They don’t hate themselves, but they’re frustrated with their behavior. Their brain is glitching and telling them lies.
How to support a partner with mental illness
Be empathetic, and understand that more than anything your partner needs you to listen to them. They want you to validate their needs. You can also encourage your partner to seek help. It’s essential for a person living with mental illness or a mood disorder to seek help in the form of therapy. A therapist can do what you can’t. They’re able to help your partner find coping techniques to deal with self-loathing and get better.
A person who suffers from addiction is probably out of control. They have poor impulse regulation and find themselves engaging in behaviors that are destructive to their mental health. They don’t want to have the addiction, but they’re powerless to it. They feel shame and guilt over their actions and know that they’re hurting not only themselves but people they love. Many people with substance abuse or addiction problems hide their problem because of self-loathing. Their denial serves to protect them from confronting their hatred for themselves.
How to help a partner who struggles with addiction
First and foremost, don’t judge them. Someone who is in the thick of addiction already feels hopeless and doesn’t know how to stop. A person who is in denial doesn’t want help, and there’s nothing you can about that. But, what you can do is set boundaries. Tell them that their behavior is hurting you and you won’t tolerate lying or anything that affects you directly. Offer to help them by going to meetings, such as A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) or support them if they need a higher level of care, such as residential treatment. Remember that you need to value yourself first, and if that means leaving the relationship, be prepared to do that if you’ve done all that you can for them.
Seeking help for self-loathing
One of the most effective measures a person can take who hates themselves is to seek therapy. Whether you’re working with an online therapist or someone in your local area, remember that there’s hope. As the partner of someone who hates themselves, encourage your loved one to see a therapist. You can tell them that you care and want them to find ways to start seeing the good qualities they have so you two can enjoy life together. No matter what, remind them that you support their journey toward wellness.
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