If you’re making moves in your life or aspiring to improve any situation, I can almost guarantee you’ve encountered a hater. Someone just has to give you a negative opinion on what you’re trying to do, the person you’re striving to become or the possession you’re trying to attain. From snide remarks, backhanded statements, and, most painfully, unintentionally demeaning advice, the people in our lives have an insidious way of inserting negative statements into our conversations.
The concept of what a hater is has gotten warped though. Sometimes if you disagree with someone or just don’t like something, you’re labeled as a hater. Hating is not disliking something, hating is a jealous or insecure reaction to another person. Urban dictionary defines a hater as:
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.
Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesnt really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch.
Susan: You know, Kevin from accounting is doing very well. He just bought a house in a very nice part of town.
Jane (hater): If he is doing so well why does he drive that ’89 Taurus?
Now I bet as soon as you read the title of this post, you immediately formed a mental picture of the person you feel hates on you the most. But I also bet that I can tell you who your biggest hater is: its not your mother, brother, or best friend; its not one of your coworkers or your significant other. Your biggest hater is your own mind.
You are not your mind
When I speak of your mind, I’m referring to the constant chatter that runs in the background all day. This is that voice in your head that you ‘talk’ to when you talk to yourself. It reasons with you, tells you instructions and gives you advice. You relate to it like its a person independent from you. And you assign problems with your conscious mind, and your subconscious mind finds solutions and passes them on to your conscious mind. But your subconscious and conscious minds are not ‘you’.
Thinking and being are not the same things. Your mind is a tool you use to solve problems, and when your mind is idle it comes up with its own problems to solve. As part of the problem-solving-and-finding process, your mind ponders problems from the past (that you can no longer change) and future problems (that you cannot work on yet). It has also integrated the role of critic into this constant chatter, so that the negative reinforcement you received as a child is now part of your thought patterns.
Because we identify this voice as ourselves and not our minds, we don’t recognize what it does to us. The constant self-talk and background chatter is so much a part of your life that it becomes difficult to turn it off. Why don’t you try, right now: clear your mind from all thought and hold that thoughtless state for as long as you can. How long could you hold it for? If you don’t practice meditating on a frequent basis, it can be difficult to turn off the thoughts. I meditate alot and still find it difficult, especially if I’m feeling strong emotion or trying really hard to solve a problem.
How your mind disempowers you
It also follows that our minds discourage us from positive growth and attaining our goals. Lets try another exercise: say to yourself “I’m going to lose 20 pounds”. What is the thought that immediately follows this? Is it “yeah right”, do you recall the last unsuccessful attempt you’ve had at losing weight, or do you come up with a reason why you shouldn’t?
Because your mind is running on autopilot and you’re only conscious of what its up to when you give it something to do, it guides itself and doesn’t take well to your attempts to bring it under control. It likes to keep the status quo where it is and will discourage your every attempt at change. Here it is, a tool thats supposed to be for your usage and it is your silent undermining.
The inner voice that protects you from danger and instructs you on how to act also holds you back and makes you feel bad about yourself. It does so in the following ways:
- blames you for things that go wrong
- compares you to other people
- sets unfair standards and encourages perfectionism
- beats you up for your mistakes and weaknesses
- second-guesses your decisions
- tells you that you’re not good enough, strong enough or smart enough
- forgets your successes and strengths
- calls you names: stupid, idiot (the one my mind likes to call me), fat, ugly, weak…
- exaggerates: “never get anything right”, “always choose the wrong men”, etc.
With a mind like this, who needs haters!
How to take your power back
The first and most important step in learning to stop hating on yourself is being present. You have to learn to recognize when your mind has taken over and is speaking independent of you. For example, when you’re doing a repetitive action like chores, driving or grocery shopping, your body is going through the motions but your mind is doing its own thing. This is prime time for your mind to worry about something in the future or replay an event thats happened in the past.
You’re often unguarded during these times and your mind is not focused on what you’re doing. Just listen to that voice. What is it saying, and how are those words making you feel? Try to stop the thoughts dead in their tracks – really focus your eyes on whats in front of you. Notice the colors, textures, and temperatures around you.
When your mind starts to wander and the voice starts going again, notice when its thinking about the past or the future and think about something going on right at that moment. Give your mind something to do while you’re doing something repetitive and you’ll have less background chatter during these times.
You can also speak lovingly to yourself when you catch your mind putting you down. Some of the things you can say to yourself:
- “No one is perfect. Its perfectly ok to make mistakes, thats how I learn and get better.”
- “I’m not her and she’s not me. I’m unique and valuable just as I am.”
- “I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.”
- “What’s done is done, I can only learn and move on.”
- “I’m gonna give this a shot, and if doesn’t work then it doesn’t.”
- “Have I ever failed at this before? So how do I know I won’t be successful?”
- “Its ok to be scared, I can’t stop moving forward though.”
- “I’m doing the best I can here! Thats what counts.”
- “Never is a long time. I’m sure I’ve done better and if not, I’m gonna try right now.”
Another good tactic is journaling. Writing about your problems helps you reflect on how far you’ve come, and find solutions to where you’re trying to go. You can look back on the progress you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learned, and refer to these when your mind is beating you up or selectively forgets the positive things you’ve done. This also gives you an outlet for the thoughts swirling around in your mind and helps you to control your feelings better.
What negative thoughts do you catch yourself repeating? How do you unintentionally hate on yourself? Have you found other ways to stop the repetitive thoughts, besides the ones I’ve mentioned?