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I can’t think of a single person who’s completely happy with themselves.
Sure, there may be moments in which we feel gratitude for who we are and what we’re capable of doing, but at other times, we wish we were different—or perhaps someone else entirely.
If you’ve been feeling self-loathing lately and wish you were someone else, there are actions you can take. Begin by identifying why you feel the way you do, and then determine how you can shift your mindset so you can better handle the things that are getting you down.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you feel better about yourself if you wish you were someone else. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. Be clear about why you wish you were someone else.
This is the most important thing to focus on, because it’ll dictate the actions you’ll take from here onward. Just like dealing with a health concern, it’s important to look at what’s causing the symptoms you’re suffering from—not just the symptoms themselves.
Take time to yourself when you know you’re not going to be interrupted, and figure out why you wish you were somebody else.
- Do you dislike your appearance?
- Do you hate the job you’re in?
- Do you wish you were more (or less) well-known?
- Are you unhappy with your family life?
- Is the weather horrible where you live?
- Or, do you wish you could go back in time and make other choices so you’d have an entirely different life?
Be specific about what it is that’s getting you down. Not only can you change many aspects of your life to improve them, you may be able to shift your perspective so you hate your existence a little bit less.
2. Is this self-loathing coming from within you?
This is an important question to ask yourself because it’ll determine whether the self-hatred or frustration you feel is coming from you or if it’s other people’s judgement and malice that’s making you feel that there’s something “wrong” with you somehow.
For example, a female friend of mine has been feeling frustration with her food allergies because her partner implied that they were annoying and a “burden” to him. Similarly, I have male friends on the autism spectrum who are excluded from social gatherings because some others think they’re “weird.”
In both situations, people ended up feeling an immense amount of self-loathing and condemnation about aspects of themselves they have no control over. My friend can’t magically make her gluten and dairy allergies disappear any more than the guys can become neurotypical at will. All of them wish they were more “normal” because no one wants to be disliked or resented because of their differences.
The thing to remember here is that there is no “normal.” What’s weird or off-putting to one person is comforting and endearing to another. Problems arise when people’s individual quirks aren’t compatible, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with anyone involved.
If you wish you were someone else so you could get along better with people who are treating you like crap, know that you’re not the problem here. Instead, the key is to find your tribe so that you’ll be loved and appreciated for who and how you are—not despite.
3. Focus on what you’re grateful for.
Sometimes, a small shift in perspective can do a great deal of good to alleviate your self-loathing. One great way to change things up a bit is to focus on what you feel grateful for.
This might feel like an “easier said than done” situation, especially if you’re struggling with particularly heinous self-hatred or if you’re in a situation that’s becoming increasingly more untenable, but trust me, there’s always something for you to be grateful for.
If you’re reading this, then you probably have a computer, tablet, or phone (or have access to one that you can use). That’s something to be grateful for. Did you eat today? Do you have a warm place to sleep? Are there people in your life who care for you?
Great. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s branch out a bit and look at some aspects of yourself that you’re grateful for or proud about.
- Do you like anything about yourself physically? For example, do you love your eye or hair color? The shape of your hands? Your lips? Okay good.
- How about your mind? Do you appreciate your amazing memory? Can you learn languages easily?
- Do you have talents or skills that you appreciate?
- What about fun stuff? Are you able to play games or do artistic endeavors (like playing music or drawing) that make you happy?
These may not seem like big things to you, but little things add up. One of the best ways to determine what you’re truly grateful for is to think about what abilities or aspects you’d miss most if they were suddenly gone, and then cultivate more gratitude about them.
If you enjoy walking, take some time to appreciate the strength you have in your legs. Do you like to cook? Appreciate that you can taste amazing flavors and share your food with others.
It’s amazing how self-loathing can ease off significantly when you focus on all the good stuff you have going for you.
4. Determine what’s in your power to change, and what isn’t.
When you’re going through all the reasons why you’d rather be someone else, determine what traits or aspects are within your power to change.
For example, a person who doesn’t like their home environment can move, but a person who’s 4’11” isn’t going to be able to grow to 6’4″. Similarly, a person who hates modern society can’t leap back into the past, Outlander-style, in order to live the rest of their life in another century. However, they can move somewhere else and align their lifestyle with what’s more important to them.
Write down all the things that are getting you down, and figure out what can be changed. As long as you’re still breathing, you can change direction. Unhealthy relationships can be ended, property can be sold, college majors can be changed, and physical appearance can be adjusted.
The key here is to be realistic, as mentioned earlier, with a focus on authenticity. There are tangible things we can do to change what we dislike, but if we’re trying to be something we’re not because we see it as more appealing, then we’ll grow to hate that as well.
Align your goals with what’s important and real to you, and you’ll be able to both attain them more easily and maintain them long term.
5. If you don’t like who you are, then be someone else.
How does the person you are now differ from the person you want to be? Do you sit and think that if you had the freedom to be whoever you wanted, you’d be someone completely different?
Countless people suffer because they’re living inauthentic lives. In essence, they’re playing roles that other people want of them, rather than being true to who they are. Furthermore, they might feel that they can’t get away from these roles because they’ve been so inundated by them.
I’ve met many people who have lived unfulfilled, unhappy lives because of what was “expected” of them, like a Mormon woman who had 8 kids before she was 30 due to community expectations, but she dreamed of being a pilot.
I was expected to follow my family’s tradition of joining the military, but that’s not who I am. Breaking that tradition caused significant turmoil, but that strain was necessary in order for me to live true to my own nature.
Interestingly, I discovered that I’m not the only “black sheep” in my family line. A note I found in one of my ancestor’s diaries commented on how societal/familial expectations can be stifling, and they can make one wish that they were someone else.
To transcend that feeling, he went travelling to the far East, upsetting everyone in the process. He had his fair share of difficulties as well as wonderful adventures, and most importantly, he returned as his own man. That just goes to show that you’ll undoubtedly upset others if you’re living authentically, but the end result is well worth upsetting the apple cart.
6. Know that you can always be a different version of yourself.
We all have a deep knowing within us of that which we inherently feel is good, and we desire to strive toward it. You’re not a tree. You’re not stuck where you are, roots 40 feet down in the ground, unable to move anywhere on your own.
There is always an escape route, and always the capacity for change.
Look at Madonna and how many times she’s reinvented herself over the years. You don’t have to be as drastic as she’s been, but she does serve as a good example of how people can change several times over as they go through life.
In other words, if you hate who you have become, become someone new and different. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Most definitely.
7. You have the strength and courage to be who you want to be.
If you don’t like who you are right now, draw from what we asked earlier and determine who (and how) you’d prefer to be. Then be realistic about the actions needed to make this a reality.
Some aspects will be easy, rather like slipping free from ill-fitting clothes and stretching in your own skin for the first time. Other aspects will be significantly more difficult. They may require great sacrifice and cause pain to both you and others.
Authenticity always requires some degree of courage.
It’s always difficult to flee the bounds of familiarity and comfort, yet if you don’t, you’ll be bound to other people’s whims and expectations. In order to mold yourself in your own image, you have to be prepared to upset, disappoint, and anger absolutely everybody else in the process. That said, you may be surprised to discover who ends up being accepting and supportive versus those who try to shame or bully you into maintaining the status quo.
It’s in times of great change and difficulty that our truest allies reveal themselves. Those who stand by you and support you—even if they don’t agree with or like your choices—are the ones worth keeping in your life.
Often, the things you will think are insurmountable pass as a gentle breeze, while the presumed “easy” aspects turn into absolute nightmares. Regardless of where the true trials lie, know that by holding to that which you want (or need) to do will shape you into the version of yourself that you’re happier with all around.
Even if all your goals and ambitions fail and you’re thwarted at every turn, this process will be a metamorphosis to create a more authentic version of YOU.
8. “This is what I have to work with today.”
This is a phrase that I’ve returned to time and time again: both in my own practice, and when working as a personal trainer. My clients would often feel immensely discouraged because the fitness level they wanted to attain seemed so far away from where they were at the moment.
Instead of looking at where they weren’t, I brought their attention back to where they were that day and what they had to work with. If they didn’t have the energy to run a few miles or bench-press 250lbs, that’s okay. They could do something. Could they manage a 15-minute walk on the treadmill? Well, that was more than they could do yesterday, and that’s amazing! How about a few sets with a kettlebell? Excellent!
We all have our limitations, but we also have a wide range of individual abilities. As such, do what you can with what you have, instead of focusing on what you can’t do. You may never be able to lift 1000lbs, but maybe you’ll be able to work up to swimming 100 laps. Work on your abilities and adjust personal goals accordingly. The key is to do what you can, when you can, and strive for just a tiny bit more tomorrow.
This approach can apply to many aspects of one’s life—not just physical fitness or appearance. You can adapt it to any circumstance you’re currently struggling with.
For example, let’s say you feel like a piece of garbage because you don’t have a job, or there are tons of things you want (or need), but you barely have enough money to cover basic expenses. You might not be able to change all of that today, but you can take a small step toward improving your situation.
If you’ve been trying to find work with no luck, consider asking some friends of yours to review your resume. They might be able to suggest some changes that can shift your luck in that regard.
Similarly, if there’s a massive amount of stuff you need, prioritize all of it in a list. Then determine what the most important expenses are, and figure out how much money you’ll need to take care of just one of those. Or, take advantage of free swapping/trading groups in your area. See what’s on offer or post about what it is you’re looking for.
These might seem like tiny little steps, but that’s how we get anywhere, isn’t it? We can’t leap up mountains, but those small footholds add up over time. As long as we keep moving forward, we’ll get to where we want to go.
9. Use that self-loathing to propel you forward.
Often, if you’re feeling awful about yourself for various reasons, you can use that self-loathing as a powerful tool for personal change. For instance, if you’re fed up with being physically weak, or upset that you can’t run a mile without wanting to die, then use this self-hatred as fuel to help you transform into the version of yourself that you desire to be; that you KNOW you are deep down.
This doesn’t mean that you should be cruel toward yourself. That’s a gateway to things like eating disorders and self-harm. Instead, choose to turn that self-loathing into self-love. Instead of thinking “I’m a piece of trash because I can’t walk up the stairs without wheezing,” establish that you love and respect yourself too much to allow yourself to continue in this state.
Make a point of walking up and down those stairs a few times a day—even when you don’t need to. Keep doing this until it gets easier for you, and then increase how many times you do it.
As you become more accomplished at whatever it was that you felt shame about, you’ll also notice that your self-hatred will diminish. If you’re hitting most of your goals, that self-loathing will simmer down into a watchful eye, like a grumpy cat watching you from the top of the chair he’s not supposed to be perched on.
If you want to be someone else because you dislike an aspect of yourself, your social life and so on, then it’s up to you to change it. Whatever you’re not seeking to change, you’re either accepting or choosing.
10. Do what must be done.
It often happens that people remain in situations they absolutely despise because they’re afraid of hurting or disappointing other people or even being condemned and attacked by those who claim to love them. I’m thinking of a post in Reddit’s “confessions” section in which a widowed mom placed her profoundly disabled child (opens in a new window) in a care facility in order to save herself and her older child.
She faced immense criticism from many for making that decision, even though it was the best choice for everyone. Her options had been to either continue living in despair, condemning her elder child to a life of misery or to anger and disappoint others by freeing them from their burden.
If you’ve been living a lie for the sake of other people’s happiness, know that many of them will hate you for your decision to change. As mentioned earlier, those who truly love you will respect and understand your choices, even if it hurts them on some level. Those who scream at you, threaten, or otherwise abuse you, love you for what you do for them, not for who you are.
This is where you’ll need to decide to do what must be done, even though it’ll cause turmoil. It’s the sacrifice we need to make to live true to ourselves.
11. Ask for help if it’s needed.
If your current self-hatred is changeable, but you don’t know where to begin making that change happen, then you may benefit from a bit of help.
For example, if you want to change your life circumstances entirely, it’s a good idea to book time with a good therapist (BetterHelp.com is a great place to get affordable, convenient access to a fully qualified and certified therapist). They can help you to sort out what the most pressing issues are and to address them so you can shift direction. This may include finding a good nutritionist and personal trainer if you want to get in shape or consulting with doctors and surgeons if the desired changes include transitioning gender or undergoing cosmetic procedures.
If you need to extricate yourself from domestic circumstances, then consult with a lawyer or financial advisor to go over options and plans available to you. You could also talk with social workers if you need help planning care for dependents or extricating yourself from an abusive or otherwise controlling situation.
Academic and work advisors are helpful if you’d like to change careers, and your social network can be invaluable if you’re looking to move to another city or country.
Remember that you’re not alone here. You don’t have to do all of this by yourself. There are many resources available to you, no matter what changes you’d like to put into place.
The key is to be completely honest with yourself about what and why you want to change. Once you’ve determined that, the rest will start to fall into place. You ARE brave and strong enough to make real change happen, when you’re ready.