SELF HATE isn’t your typical coffee-table topic.
Maybe it’s a Red Table Talk topic (holla, @jadapinkettsmith!!! ), but not something we tend to bring out in conversations. A courageous step on the path to truly understanding SELF LOVE is to understand SELF HATE
As a Transformational Coach, I’ve seen breakthroughs happen within myself as well as my clients when even just a little bit of exploration of shadow parts occurs. Because we are whole people, meaning made up of many parts of our personalities, life experiences, and past stories, we don’t have access to our highest potential if we don’t spend the time understanding shadow parts such as self hate that are usually hidden deep within our psyche . We just continue on having missing pieces.
Self Hate is often called one of our Shadow Parts because they are the parts of us that live in the depths and darkness of our
shame, guilt, judgement, and self criticism. Shadows don’t come out because its usually not safe to do so, none the less, they are there when light is present.
What I’ve come to learn and realize in the profoundness of this transformational journey, is that by better understanding the ORIGINS of my shadows like SELF HATE, we
acknowledge that they are an actual PART of us, but NOT WHO WE ARE in our wholeness. In other words they may come from something else outside of us and are not of our truest, most highest vibration, or true SELF
can explore our dark sides safely for the opportunity to NAME IT (our specific dark sides), or call it what it is. Because when we’re able to name what something is, its gives us access to the next step or action we need to take with it in order to work on ourselves
can understand our WHOLE SELF, not just the good parts, without judgement, criticism, or retaliation. And that can be liberating! It is in this freedom that allows us to SURRENDER to who we truly need to be in this world
So how did self hate show up for me?
Well, as a second generation, dark skinned Pinay life hasn’t been the most enjoyable or empowering experience. Not until most recently, thanks, Entrepinays! What it has been is a deep and serendipitous journey. At a certain point in my leadership development I felt stifled by all the bad things that happened to me. I kept coming back to my thoughts of self-depreciation, especially after I gave a presentation about my career path. The feedback I received from a colleague afterwards was that I was using a lot of self-depreciating language. I felt really sad and embarrassed by it, which probably didn’t help.
You see, up until that point I was focusing on all the negative outcomes in my career. The not finishing grad school, the layoffs, the ways in which I didn’t fit in the normalized career path. And my presentation would stop there. I didn’t talk about what each of those experiences taught me, what beauty they led me to. Probably because I wasn’t recognizing them at the time. So, what the feedback from my colleague offered me was a prompt for me to really question why those were my choice of words, why were those choices my tendencies? (Notice the shift I invited in; from WHY to HOW)
Breaking through these tendencies didn’t happen quickly thought. It’s been many, many years of processing, seeking guidance, professional development trainings, relationship fails that have brought me more awareness about how and why I feel the way I do about myself. When it comes down to it, the critical piece for me is to get down to the ROOT CAUSE of our shadows and do the work from there.
When tracing behind me, then back, then further back into my history
the origins begin to shed light on what BIRTHED MY SELF HATE
For me it was about the family I grew up in. I come from an upbringing that comes from a culture of self hate. (Not uncommon for people who have a history of colonization and displacement, btw)
So in my experience,
growing up dark skinned, I was affectionately called Black Beauty, not really understanding why I even needed to have a name emphasizing my different skin tone from the rest of my family
I was expected to do well in school, make the grades, get a good and stable job, have a happy family and kids in suburban comforts and luxuries
I wasn’t supposed to be too vocal about things or, “rock the boat”. My mom would say, “Well, that’s just the way it is. They [white people] are like that”
I also was less celebrated, championed, and allowed to socialize in comparison to my older brother
For all of these points above, my inner voice understood me to be the exact opposite of the expectations. So in all the moments that I had relationships with diverse friends and lovers, was mediocre in school, didn’t land a stable or cush job situation or family, constantly rocked the boat in politics and work, celebrate myself…I began to silently hate myself for not being what was expected of me.
When it came to being in relationship with my family of origin, who have adopted the cultural norms of self hate, my subconscious began to believe that I was inadequate, disappointing, too loud, too this and that. And I began to believe that for myself and allow the bad relationships, job layoffs, and lack of confidence convince me that this is my reality; that this is the disappointment I came out to be. So much so, that when I presented my story to groups, that’s how I would talk about myself.
So now in the throws of my self healing journey and development of my nature-based practice, I know for sure, that IT IS NOT in our true nature to hate ourselves. But what is in our nature is CURIOSITY. So, I began asking and searching and tuning into my inner wisdom and gathering resources. And in that process I found where that sadness came from and found a lot of heartbreak in being reminded that the origins are a far more bigger force than in my immediate family. The act of hating on oneself was associated with the linear function and heirarchy that deems white and male as supreme in this world. It was that force that took away our understanding of self love and self pride in order to control the human mind for development and growth on land.
As the author and Filipino traditional healer of, “Way of the Ancient Healer”, Virgil Apostol puts it,
“…to restore our “pride of identity” means to respect who and what we are and where we come from, and to embrace and promote our fading traditions, which other cultures are both hungry and searching for.”
This book validated self hate to be a thing in my culture so engrained in our psyche that
“Ironically, it is usually when our Filipino traditions are practiced by foreigners that we remove our masks of share and claim these traditions as our own.”
Of coarse, there were more ways than one that validated self hate as a part of a bigger system. AND knowing that also allowed be to refocus my thoughts and actions for change to be one of my own journey. I was able to let go of the blame onto my family, onto certain individuals for shaping my world in whatever way I gave them consent. I took ownership of my own healing.
So, in order to restore my pride and identity, I started asking more intentionally, “Who am I, who are my people, and where do I come from?”
I became selfish and unapologetic about it. It’s where the Audre Lorde guidance comes from
“Caring for myself is not self indulgence. It is self preservation. And that is an act of political warfare”
Today, I’m more able to recognize different ways that SELF HATE can show up in my everyday life. But getting to SELF LOVE is definitely NOT a rose colored path and what often shows up as a road block can take the form of
undervaluing of myself in my work and language
tendency to feel imposter syndrome
the lack of boundaries and saying “no”
But since I know more about where these parts of me may be coming from, I can explore old stories, narratives, tactics, skills, reflections, and self-healing practices that help me move through these quicker. I appreciate these road blocks because they’re the triggers that come up, letting me know that there are parts within myself that need some sort of working out. They’re showing up needing some sort of process to help me move through them.
And honestly, it may sound cliche, but I really do believe it is SELF LOVE that will liberate us from the grasps of our SELF HATE.
If you’ve ever felt the grips of self hate, you could start transforming it into self love by asking the same questions I asked myself long ago:
What’s causing me to do/say things that diminish me? Where did it come from?
Was this self hate something I learned from another?
When exactly did I begin believing this about myself?
What other influences around me reinforce or convince me about my self hate?
How do I want to view myself, if it is not in a hateful way?
Who can I call on to provide me gentle and loving support to work through my self hate and arrive to self love?
Get curious (instead of judgmental) about yourself and your life story.
Be open and accepting that there are things that cannot be re-written, but can be re-visited with a stronger sense of Self and compassion!