As psychoanalyst and philosopher Alice Miller writes:
The love a child has for his or her parents ensures that their conscious or unconscious acts of mental cruelty will go undetected.
Author and therapist Anodea Judith goes on to explain:
Since we usually identify with our caretakers and their values, the way they treat us teaches us about our value as human beings. We take on their attitudes toward us. Abuse makes us feel unlovable, and feeling defective only adds to our shame. Unlovable, we are no longer in touch with our divinity, our specialness, our validity as human beings. Convinced that the fault lies in some intrinsic flaw, to which we are blind and helpless, we abandon ourselves.
2. Poor social environment
Building on top of a poor family environment is a poor social environment. And you don’t have to look very deep into society before you come across some real nasty shit.
Other than the typical cases of bullying we see in schools, our childhood social environment (outside of the house) may have reinforced our self-loathing even more through the harmful effects of social media conditioning and the obsessive toxic comparison with others.
If you were alive before the rise in social media / internet usage, you may have come across critical and shame-driven teachers or education systems that made you feel worthless or inferior if you didn’t meet their standards of success.
Any experience or environment that reinforced the false idea that there’s something wrong with you, deepened the amount of self-loathing you held. And if you’ve ever read into basic psychology, you’ll know that the mind likes patterns, so you’ll eventually find yourself in a bubble full of confirmation bias where you’re constantly looking out for, and receiving, validation that you’re worthless. Why? It appeases the mind’s need to control and understand life.
(It’s the exact same bubble algorithm that social media networks like Facebook use – except self-loathing plays with your entire life, on-screen and off-screen.)
3. Ego possession / soul loss
Finally, we come to the very core issue at the heart of all self-loathing. And it may cause you to roll your eyes or feel confused – but hear me out.
We are all born with no sense of “me,” “my,” and “I.” As babies, we are ego-less, at One with the Universe. But as we grow older, in order to survive in this world, we need to separate ourselves, to build a sense of self. To construct an ego.
This basic separation from the Universe, from the Divine, is at the root of all self-loathing. We can only hate ourselves when there is someone to hate. Without that someone, without that ego, there is no self-loathing, and therefore no suffering. (By the way, this state of egolessness has been referred to as heaven, self-realization, Nirvana, illumination, enlightenment, and so on for thousands of years.)
Soul loss is what occurs when we get so enmeshed and immersed in our fabricated egos that we feel totally disconnected from anything good, anything meaningful, anything real. Instead, we feel empty, lost, hopeless, and in many cases, full of self-loathing.