It’s a strange, paradoxical concept really. All the evidence points against it. You might even call it a clever ploy to get attention, for we all know by now what constitutes as the most attractive quality in the world – vulnerability. People would be too darn obnoxious, even unloveable, if they did not hate themselves a little.
But, there’s a difference between not being quite up to what one would like to be, and being in an extreme, bottomless pit of disapproval of one’s self. Especially when one’s instincts are traditionally wired against it. You eat for sustenance, even pleasure. You protect your head with your arms even if there’s mild, possible danger involved, like a drizzle of rain. You lie to get out of trouble. You rub your belly when it hurts. You scratch an itch, because you believe that will make it better. You run to the bathroom to escape an anxious situation. All this might not scream ‘self-love’ like that promotional offer of a spa weekend does, but protecting and preserving yourself is very much an act of love, though they don’t write too many songs about the above situations (share in the comments section below if you know any).
The problem’s outside then, eh? Nurture, since nature seems to be against the idea. Maybe. But, if there wasn’t arable soil, self-loathing wouldn’t flourish so easily. There has to be a grain of truth behind every lie, a seed of belief behind every negative self-perception. It grows with reinforcement, external or internal, for repetition usually changes an idea into a habit, and habits generally tend to change to belief. Belief, of the true kind, is pretty unshakeable.
But, is self-hate all that bad? Surely, it must serve some function, given how glamourous it is. Not just limited to teenage angst, self-hate is pretty much a universal driving force in art, where it serves as inspiration, and industry, where it can be a powerful motivational force. Even in relationships, it calls upon our need to protect those weaker than us.
But, only up to a point. Only in small dozes. Which, in most cases, is pretty undoable. It’s a belief, after all. You live it wholly, truly. You cannot keep it aside, temper it down, release and constrict as you please. You cannot evade it, cannot dismiss it, cannot forget it. Most of all, you cannot reject it. The only way to counter it is with something equally potent, perhaps of greater magnitude. But, in keeping with the above ‘tree’ analogy, how do you find such an antidote? An antidote against time, against memory, against experience, even against one’s place in the world?
It’s almost like fighting against your own humanity, in order to preserve it. Curing an emotional autoimmune disease. The enormity, the perceivable impossibility of the task, sinks you further.
At this point, in a blog post by a non-practising mental health professional, you would expect some sort of an inspirational instruction. Perhaps, some pithy words of wisdom. Perhaps, a popular quote, like Lennon’s “All You Need Is Love”. But, I’m not going to be that blogger for you today. Especially, since I don’t believe in it, if I did say it. A solution would render today’s discussion complete, a full circle of problem-solution-overanddone. And it is not. It won’t be, even in the next few seconds when your brain would still be processing this two-minute read. And it definitely wouldn’t be, when we settle back to who we are, despite all the advice going around in the atmosphere. There are too many solutions in the world. And not enough problem-solving.
Let’s just ask, for today. Let’s just consider, see it for what it is, not what it could be or should be. Let’s be honest with ourselves. What does self-loathing mean and constitute, according to you?