The Grief of Letting Go of Self-Hate : Future Focus Counselling & Consulting

Grief is most commonly associated with the loss of a loved one or the end of a significant relationship. However, there is a less acknowledged but profoundly impactful form of grief that comes with letting go of self-hate. This process is a journey of profound transformation, filled with emotional highs and lows, and it is essential to recognize and honor the grief that accompanies it.

Understanding Self-Hate

Self-hate is a deeply ingrained negative perception of oneself. It can manifest as constant self-criticism, feelings of worthlessness, and a pervasive sense of inadequacy. This internalized negativity often stems from past traumas, critical environments, or societal pressures that teach us we are not good enough. For many, self-hate becomes a familiar, albeit destructive, companion.

The Comfort of the Familiar

One of the reasons letting go of self-hate is so challenging is that it becomes a part of our identity. Despite its toxicity, self-hate provides a perverse sense of comfort because it is familiar. It shapes our worldview and influences our behaviors, becoming a default setting in our emotional lives. In this sense, letting go of self-hate is akin to losing a part of oneself, even if that part is harmful.

The Grieving Process

  1. Denial: Initially, there may be a denial of the need to change. “This is just who I am,” one might think. Accepting the need to let go of self-hate can feel like an admission of failure or a betrayal of one’s identity.
  2. Anger: Anger often follows as we confront the sources of our self-hate. This anger can be directed inward, exacerbating feelings of shame, or outward towards those who contributed to these negative beliefs.
  3. Bargaining: In this stage, there might be an attempt to hold onto some aspects of self-hate. “If I just fix this one flaw, then I can feel better about myself.” This is a way to delay the full acceptance of self-worth.
  4. Depression: Letting go of self-hate can lead to a profound sense of loss and emptiness. There is a mourning for the familiar, even when that familiarity is painful. This stage can be marked by sadness, lethargy, and a sense of hopelessness.
  5. Acceptance: Finally, there comes a stage of acceptance. This does not mean that the journey is over or that self-love has been fully achieved, but there is an acknowledgment of one’s worth and a commitment to self-compassion. This stage is characterized by a gentler, more forgiving relationship with oneself.

The Path Forward

The path to letting go of self-hate is neither linear nor quick. It requires patience, self-compassion, and often the support of a therapist or counselor. Here are some strategies to navigate this journey:

  1. Self-Awareness: Begin by recognizing the patterns and triggers of self-hate. Journaling can be a helpful tool to identify negative thoughts and their origins.
  2. Self-Compassion: Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. This can be challenging but is essential for healing.
  3. Positive Affirmations: Replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. This might feel unnatural at first, but over time, it can help to rewire your thinking.
  4. Therapy: Engaging with a therapist can provide a safe space to explore the roots of self-hate and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
  5. Support System: Surround yourself with supportive people who reinforce your worth and encourage positive self-view.

Embracing a New Identity

As you move through the grief of letting go of self-hate, you begin to forge a new identity. This new self is not defined by past mistakes or perceived flaws but by resilience, compassion, and the capacity for growth. Embracing this new identity is a powerful act of self-liberation and an ongoing process of healing.

Remember, it is okay to grieve the loss of self-hate. This grief is a natural part of letting go and making space for self-love. Be gentle with yourself, and acknowledge the courage it takes to embark on this journey. Healing is possible, and you deserve a life free from the shadows of self-hate.


  1. Neff, Kristin. “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” HarperCollins, 2011.
  2. Brown, Brené. “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Hazelden Publishing, 2010.

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I am licensed to practice in Washington State and the following Canadian Provinces: Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland.