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Below is an insight to one of NPS self help group sessions that was organised and run by some of our wonderful group facilitators. This informative session led to the group sharing their thoughts, experiences and insights into the topic as well as helping one another to explore how to overcome and manage self loathing. 

What is self loathing?

It is where a person has very strong feelings of dislike and are extremely critical of themselves. Everyone experiences feelings of self loathing from time to time, this is a normal feeling. However, for some people self loathing is a constant occurrence that is so relentless that they start to believe it. This can have a big impact on your mental health and can leave them feeling no self worth or value and undeserving of positive things in their lives.

Causes of self loathing

  • Trauma (quite often in childhood)
  • False expectations of yourself 
  • Wanting to please others
  • Perfectionism
  • Social comparison
  • Negative relationships, personal and/or professional

Impacts of self loathing

  • Negative relationship with self and others
  • Poorer Workplace performance 
  • Goal settings and accomplishments (fear of failure)
  • Decision making (doubting yourself and reluctant to take risks) 
  • Low self esteem 
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Managing self loathing 

People are not always aware that they have self loathing and the reasons behind it. Below are some tips for managing these self loathing thoughts, how to practice self compassion and some helpful exercises.

Tips:

  • Journaling; try writing down your thoughts, question the origin of your thoughts (remember, no-one is born with self loathing thoughts) , try writing down your strengths.
  • Try to think about yourself and treat yourself as you would a close friend; respectfully and with affection, understanding and empathy.
  • Practising accepting compliments
  • Surround yourself with positive people 
  • Being forgiving to yourself 
  • Focus on the present and how far you’ve come 
  • Accepting and embracing of failures 

Practising self compassion:

This can be done through 3 key elements 

  1. Kindness- treat yourself as you would a friend or a child.
  2. Practice mindfulness- mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing your attention in the present moment without judgement.
  3. Imperfection- give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Exercises:

Changing your critical self talk- aim to pinpoint when you're being self critical, react to your self criticism with compassion and try to reframe the language of your inner critic. This exercise is meant to be conducted over a few weeks so you are recurrently reflecting on the origin of your self-criticism. 

The Criticiser , criticised and compassionate observer- you will practice each of the 3 roles during this exercise. Starting with being self critic/criticiser, you will express your feelings of self-criticism making note of the defining characteristics of the criticism. Then you will become the criticised self and imagine how you would verbally respond to your inner critic (this will lead to you having a dialogue between 2 aspects of yourself; the self critic and the criticised). Then you should imagine yourself as a compassion observer of this dialogue, finishing with you reflecting on this experience. 

Exploring through writing- in this exercise you will focus on a facet of yourself that you believe to be an imperfection and that makes you feel inadequate. Once you have chosen this issue you will then write a letter to yourself from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend. Once you have completed the letter it is important that you reflect on this exercise, focusing particularly on the soothing and comforting feelings of compassion that you have generated for yourself. 

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