Self-loathing not only drives people into addiction, it also helps to keep them trapped there. This means that the individual becomes a victim of their own mind, becoming willing to put up with a level of abuse that they would not accept from another person. For those living with this level of self-hatred, it can be like a tyrant that is living inside of their head; the worst thing of all is that the individual usually believes this self-loathing behaviour is normal.
What is Self-Loathing?
Self-loathing/self-hatred is defined as when individuals treat themselves badly through self-criticism, negativity, poor self-image, or an internal monologue that is bullying in nature. Those dealing with this issue will often describe how it is as if there were a ‘hole in their soul’. Most people engage in self-loathing occasionally, but for affected individuals it is one of the main driving forces in their life. Those who are victims of self-hatred will also have low self-esteem, which means that they not only feel underserving of love and success but also actually deserve of the opposite.
Self-Loathing and Addiction
It is common for those falling into addiction to also be dealing with self-hatred. The fact that the individual feels empty inside means that he or she could see alcohol and drugs as an easy way to escape the pain. This type of individual is likely to find that in the beginning the substance abuse does offer some reprieve from the self-loathing – the intoxication means they are numb to these feelings. The problem is that this temporary reprieve comes at a high cost and it actually makes the problem much worse.
Self-loathing and substance abuse causes the individual to fall into a vicious cycle. People drink to numb their negative feelings, but they wake up the next morning feeling even worse about themselves. The person then reacts to this by drinking even more. This cycle of feeling bad because of drinking and drinking to stop feeling bad eventually leads the individual into addiction.
The self-hatred not only causes the fall into addiction, but it also keeps the individual trapped. This is because their low self-esteem means that they become willing to accept the bare minimum in life. The individual can believe that the pain of addiction is the best that he or she can hope for and that it may not be possible to achieve anything better. This means that these people do not have much interest in recovery because they do not really believe that it would be possible for them to improve their life.
How to Escape Self-Loathing
One of the biggest problems with self-hatred is that most who engage in it do not even realise that this is what they are doing. The person becomes so used to the inner dialogue of constant criticism that he or she does not even notice it anymore. The first step to overcoming self-loathing, therefore, is to recognise that it actually exists. A therapist can be very useful for helping the individual identify this type of problem.
One of the most effective practices for overcoming self-loathing is loving-kindness meditation. The overall goal of this technique is to develop compassion for everyone, but the meditator begins by developing some self-compassion; it is not possible to have loving-kindness for others until the individual is able to offer this to him or herself first.
Spending time helping others can be good for the individual to develop some self-compassion. This is because the individual begins to see that everyone is fallible and in need of comfort.