How To Stop Hating Yourself

1. Know that God doesn’t hate you.

Self-hatred is not God’s plan for your life.  He is not calling you to focus on all the reasons why you’re odd or rubbish or stupid or shameful. He’s not waiting in the bushes with a long lens to capture your mistakes. He’s not scowling at the front of class or sniggering behind your back. He is not condoning the critical voiceover that punctuates your waking moments. Think of how you feel when someone criticises your best friend or your mum… the anger and the fierce protectiveness and the love. God hates your self hatred because He knows the truth about you; that He made you well. This truth is bigger than all the other ‘truths’ you’ve ever been told.


2. Crushing you with burdens is Satan’s tactic, not the Spirit’s

There’ll be areas in your life where you are called to change (as is every believer). But the Spirit challenges us with hope and the promise of forgiveness and grace and help. Where there’s false failure, He shows us the true standards of success. And where there’s real failure in our lives, He offers redemption. By contrast, the enemy tells us we’re already condemned and we must try harder — even though it doesn’t matter what we do, because we’ll only mess up. Satan crushes us and He leaves us there. The Spirit challenges us and lifts us to Jesus.


3. God is working with what is already there. 

God does not need to replace or dilute you, to make you acceptable or ‘work.’  He’s thrilled with the essence, the core, the bits that combine to make you different from others. He put those bits together; and He doesn’t make junk.


4. Comparison is a killer.

Do not compare yourself to others (or you will despair). God sees what is going on in your life and He sees the challenges and the blessings and the hidden bits that everyone else might miss. (1 Cor 4:1-5). Tim Keller speaks about this here in this excellent talk (the comparison bit begins at 20:45). The Spirit works with where you are, not where others are.

5. You cannot redeem yourself.

Give up on rescuing yourself.  You can’t. And trying to do so will drive you into further despair.


6. You cannot be perfect.

Give up on a perfect life that is free from struggle.  Jesus says we will have trouble in this world – but He is with us in it.


7. Be shaped by Scripture.  

New kitchen units or face fillers or perfect grades or the hairstyle that will change your life – we can spend our life chasing them, and they just make us hungrier for more.  Pray for the things God says matter.  Focus on what Jesus says is true and real and beautiful (especially Him!) And hang out with folks who value Him too.


8. Talk

Open up to someone you love and trust. Don’t let them jump in too early with “Oh don’t be silly, we love you.” They should let you “be silly” and pour out your “silly” self-loathing. But then, let them reflect back the truth of how they see you — about how God sees you. Pray that you will be able to accept it; and keep talking.


9. Remind yourself of the gospel.

We are all messed-up.  All sinners, all unable to rescue ourselves. But God loves us.  He sent His Son to save us, even at our worst.  And in Him, we are spotless.


10. Boldly approach the eternal throne

We come to God not because of our performance or abilities or mistakes, but because of Christ. And in Christ we have a Father who loves us with the same love with which He loves His Son.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 10:14-16)

So, let’s talk to this Lord. Let’s spend time in the presence of One who feels sympathy for us, and keep on approaching Him, boldly and with hope. Through Jesus, we can learn to be who we are —  who God sees us to be. We can begin to speak back to self-hatred and to lies. We can shelter forever in the warmth of His unchanging love.


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12 thoughts on “How To Stop Hating Yourself

  1. Thanks Emma. Excellent gospelling as always. I’m challenged that I’m not doing God’s work in hating myself, but in fact it’s deeply ungodly to do so.

  2. Thank you so much for this. I started seeing a counsellor last week and we were discussing that I often hate myself. I’ve printed this off to take to my session tomorrow (she’s not a believer but is happy to work with my faith not against it). X

  3. Is a very helpful article but I do want to share something I heard, a different view that might even be very helpful…

    The late great Elisabeth Elliot reminded folks of the scripture Ephesians 5:29, ‘For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church’. Mrs. Elliot went on to explain that are real problem is that we love ourselves TOO much that we hate when our life is difficult so the devil makes us think we hate ourselves but we really are loving our self so much and concentrating on ourselves too much, not focusing on God’s sovereign mercy and love, hence the problem. This totally changed the way I viewed myself, and it really helped me to confess my self-centered, self-focused ways. Once it was explained to me this way I truly received healing in this area and it’s been almost 30 years ago and I am still blessed and healed by this truth once it was explained to me this way. I think when we focus on ourselves and take the focus off of God, that is where the problem lies. I thought I’d share this just because it was such a benefit to me. I’m not judging anyone at all for feeling this way, I think the devil wants us all to believe his lies. I want to share God’s Word concerning this in hopes it will bless another.

  4. I am so glad you talk about this difficult subject. Difficult also for me. Selfhatred is something I wrestle with for so many years already. And my biggest wrestling is that I know that God doesn’t hate me and doesn’t want me to hate myself… in the light of Psalm 139… Oh, so difficult…
    Your words give me a sort of consolation by sharing the Words of God.
    thank you!

  5. Thanks Mary Beth – really helpful perspective. I’ve also found Tim Keller’s ‘The freedom of self-forgetfulness’ to be a big help.

  6. Thank you Emma I’m headed to Amazon right now to look for it! Sadly our society has gotten really “selfie” centered! Thank you for your wonderful blog and I’m looking forward to following you. I found you off Tim Challies blog. God bless you with a wonderful week!

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