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October 29th, 2013
06:12 am


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Significant progress against self-hatred
I've made a huge amount of progress shutting down self-hatred. Unfortunately, I haven't kept a diary, so this is from memory, and I'm not completely sure which of the many things I've tried were crucial. I do therapy (only once a month-- the style is influenced by Somatic Experiencing). I think it helps, but it isn't the main thing.

At this point, I think a lot of what got me into serious self-hatred was [edited to add: reading human potential material and jumping to the conclusion that] I didn't have enough energy/initiative/wasn't a cool enough person with big goals and a high level of success. I started hammering on myself for being such a failure, and this led to serious levels of paralysis.

I still have the problems of inertia and procrastination, but at least I'm not spending a lot of time telling myself how awful I am and I'm finding it easier to get some things done.

I'm hoping that this will be useful for other people who are plagued with self-hatred, but here's the most important piece of advice: if you're feeling swamped, pull back. Stop reading. You don't have to force yourself.

Here's what I've written in the past.

I strongly recommend Transforming Negative Self-Talk by Steven Andreas-- it's an NLP-based approach of modifying the speed, volume, pitch, direction, etc. of the attacking voice. I found it did a lot to quiet mine, and one of my friends found it helpful. The book says that these methods don't work for everyone, so if you try it, please view it as an experiment. It is absolutely the most obviously effective self-help book I've used.

I've seen some talk about the need for compassion and courage to get out of self-hatred, but I find these abstractions are too grand and frightening. Fortunately, getting in on small facts and grinding can be very useful.

Two mottoes: "I will not do my enemies' work for them." "I will not beat myself up for symptoms of depression."

I've found that fits of self-hatred are not under direct conscious control, but they can be examined and this helps. Partly, it's that the process of examination is very different from being caught up in self-hatred.

Even if you can't prevent self-hatred, experiment with self-care afterwards. You've just had a rough time, and you won't be struck by lightning if you take a moment to come back to the ordinary world and let yourself feel steadier.

It's done me some good to look at hatred as a passion. I still don't know what's going on, but just acknowledging that high-energy inventive hatred is a strong drive helped somehow.

It also helped to realize that part of my mind must be terrified of something to be working so hard to constrain me, even though I haven't figured out what it's afraid of.

It helps (in a slow grind sort of way) to keep coming back to whether what the voice is saying is true-- the universe is remarkably tolerant of people who don't meet random ideal standards.

Compassion and Self-Hate-- a good book on the subject, with focus on men's issues. I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't)-- another good book with focus on women's issues.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1022807.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.


(12 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2013 11:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I've been experiencing not quite self hatred but rather large amounts of self doubt--old fears from early childhood that I thought I'd left behind for good rearing their heads. I'm kind of still in the throes of it, so I can't really yet talk about overcoming it, but what you say about trying to look at what the voice is saying does help. Reminding oneself of the evidence that contradicts the voice, even if what the voice says feels true.

[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
Blogging this. Thanx. Also planning to use it.
Date:October 29th, 2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
This is excellent advice. *takes notes*
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2013 05:56 pm (UTC)
Very well-said. I liked what you wrote back in April '12, too:

"It seems plausible to me that there are cultural influences which can at least amplify the risk of self-hatred, and that those influences are not of equal force in all times and places. Religions which put a lot of emphasis on the state of one's soul, narrow definitions of psychological health, and high demands for success and/or ideal appearance are all plausible candidates. So is viewing aging as a defect rather than a reason for being respected. See also demands for perfect motives. And don't forget the possibility of simply viewing oneself as not good enough because of being part of an outgroup."

It seems to me that one of the scary things the mind has to come to grips with is that the culture in which we were brought up is so profoundly messed-up that most of our 'cultural influences' are unwholesome, if not outright toxic. Even if a person rejects mainstream culture and its bogus beliefs and ways, mainstream culture is still always there, always saying "You're wrong about everything; you're weird, lazy, stupid and ugly; look at all the wonderful things that will never, ever be yours because you're not good enough and you never can be."

I see so many people hating on themselves for still wanting the stuff they were conditioned all their lives to want. It's like beating oneself up for still having lustful thoughts about other people after marriage, even if one doesn't act on them. Of course we want things that are bad for us; knowing that they're bad for us doesn't make us want them less, especially when they're waved under our noses, but the fucked-up cultural values say that only bad people want bad things. It's a crash-and-burn downward spiral of illogic, and knowing that it is illogic doesn't necessarily make it any easier to pull up out of it.

One thing I have found very useful is the principle of "Don't Feed The Trolls". The same as with haters and bullshitters online, don't reinforce self-hatred and stinkin' thinkin' by engaging with it, even to ask if it's true. It's not true; it's a load of crap, and there's no reason not to tell it so straight-out: "STFU, you! Everything you say is spite and shit, so just put a sock in it, asshole; your opinion was not requested!" I wrote scathing sonnet parodies of my whiny defeatist self-pity, and it helped immensely. Sometimes compassion is not the answer; sometimes beating up the bully is the only thing that works, even if the bully is part of one's own mind.

Edited at 2013-10-29 06:01 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:October 30th, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
I see a lot of references in the literature to "self-talk" or "negative voices". But there are no voices in my head telling me bad things about myself. All I have to do is to objectively examine who and what I am. I recognize that there are quite a few good things about me as well, but most of them don't count for very much in terms of getting along in society. My usual technique for dealing with this is, alas, to try as hard as I can to ignore it and just get on with whatever needs doing.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2013 07:47 am (UTC)
Thank you (here via Arthur D. Hlavaty, after I passed up the link at Making Light).

Self-loathing has been my cruelest demon for a long time, a very long time indeed. I am pretty sure I inherited it from my father, who may have gotten it from his father.

I'm not going to take it for granted, though. I'm going to exorcise it, possibly turn it into a servant angel. Not going to just live with it, anyway.
[User Picture]
Date:October 31st, 2013 09:28 am (UTC)
In re making self-hatred into a guardian angel-- this is reminding me that I tried to shut it down, but (a) I couldn't and (b) trying felt bad. I wasn't sure whether part of it was that a lot of my energy was there in the self-hatred, but I eventually found that a lot of my sense of certainty was in the self-hatred, and I felt better when I reclaimed at least some of it.

Where is the link on Making Light?

Edited at 2013-10-31 09:35 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2013 08:11 am (UTC)
Gee, I thought I had seen it there, but I do not see it now.
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
on the DFD thread. http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/015459.html#1558014 - direct link to the comment in question
[User Picture]
Date:November 5th, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC)
It's there because I just added it. It wasn't on Making Light last week.
[User Picture]
Date:February 14th, 2014 03:43 am (UTC)
Hey, I don't even know what answer I am looking for here, but could you talk about this a little bit, if you have time/energy/willingness?

"I tried to shut it down, but (a) I couldn't and (b) trying felt bad. I wasn't sure whether part of it was that a lot of my energy was there in the self-hatred, but I eventually found that a lot of my sense of certainty was in the self-hatred, and I felt better when I reclaimed at least some of it."

Because I have this tip-of-the-tongue feeling about this, that this is something I am not sure I understand, but there are warning bells going off, so I think it's a thing I'm almost on the cusp of experiencing or having to navigate, and I would like to try to understand a little more. Again, not even sure what I am looking for. Perhaps just a little about how certainty thing and the self-hatred thing were intertwined. I'm afraid I may have my foot in that same barbed wire.

I got hold of the Transforming Negative Self-Talk book and so far I have seen some things in it that are . . . really pretty extraordinary. I think it will be helpful, when I have had time to work with it for a while (I got it yesterday). But I realized today that I have barriers to removing that negativity toward myself, and I don't understand why that would even be.
[User Picture]
Date:February 14th, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for coming by. I may have untangled a bit more at my end by writing this.

Here's some stuff I'm still untangling, but I think my efforts at intellectual honesty and acknowledging that the map is not the territory and so on have an emotional tinge of not wanting to say something definite and make people angry.

So, there's this voice in my head that says, "You mother-fucking incompetent piece of shit!". It's destructive and it's wrong, but it's certain. And certainty is something people need, even if the map still isn't the territory.

As for what might be behind the negativity, here's my theory in general. Self-negativity is a status disease. It's a way of telling yourself as convincingly as possible that you are of low status, and I think it's a way of protecting yourself from the perceived risks of getting above what the people around you (or who used to be around you) would permit.

Fear is too weak a word for what I think is going on, at least at my end. I think the right word is terror.
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