When Self-Hatred Looks Like Self-Love

When Self-Hatred Looks Like Self-Love

To anyone reading the title – yes, the difference in definition between self-love and self-hatred is basically the difference between day and night, as they’re antonyms. But it’s not the definition that I’m talking about today – it’s how an outside perception of these two things can be misguided, or distorted.

It’s easy to mistake confidence for self-love or to expect someone realistic to be self-loathing somehow because they don’t stretch past their boundaries or limits. The truth is that love and hatred can be expressed in diverse ways, and we can confuse one for the other – especially when regarding ourselves. We live in a world where outward perception is highly valued and criticized, and where we receive a bombardment of opinions regarding our appearance, choices, and lifestyles – regardless of whether we wanted them or not.

It can be hard to withstand all those opinions and statements and still come out at the end with a concrete understanding of how we ourselves feel about who we are. Our opinions can get jumbled, distorted and changed by others, and we feel the need to defend ourselves, or even violently exert our confidence in a way that screams insecurity. That high self-esteem of ours then looks more like an attempt at validation, and a deeper self-loathing.

To better understand the delicate nature of self-perception, and the best way to look at oneself without feeling forced to conform to others, we’ll need to take a few steps back and look at the self in a more comprehensive way.

We Are a Mirror

We often talk about individuality and finding a way to express yourself for who you are, with the freedom of doing so without being pressured by others, but the truth is that “others” are the very source of how we define ourselves.

It is through other people that we find out who we are, and just how our understanding of the world is shaped.

You see, no one comes into this world understanding how things work. Not a single baby is born with a full understanding of social constructs and relationships and hierarchy and the rules of engagement and simple interaction. We learn these things, and we improve our ability to communicate and mold how we act after the actions and, partially, the personalities of our role models whoever they may be.

We also test ourselves and push the limits of what is and isn’t acceptable to find out how far we’d go, and how far we’re allowed to go regarding different aspects of being a normal human being.

Without others to reflect off of, the development of the human psyche might just be incomplete. In other words, what others think of us is in fact important. It may be critical in the establishment of our self.

Why Some Take Criticism More Harshly Than Others

But there is a healthy and unhealthy approach to everything, and the same goes for just how much we let others influence who we are. At a specific point in life, we begin to shape an idea of who we are based on what we’re comfortable with, what we want from ourselves, and where we see ourselves in our sphere of influence.

We begin to develop responsibilities and dependencies that define us, we find a purpose in life we want to pursue. Something, whatever it may be, gives our life “meaning”. And as we pursue that, we seek the nurturing and compassion of others towards our direction in life to let us know we’re doing “the right thing”.

When that time has come, we’ve officially grown up and discovered who we are. That doesn’t mean who we are becomes an immovable pillar of cement that can’t and shouldn’t be changed with time to adapt to different scenarios – but it also is no longer the malleable concept that your “self” might’ve been in your teen years, when you were still experimenting with who you are.

Understanding this is important because it helps us clarify that, in a way, validation is normal. Seeking validation, in fact, is important. It helps us cement an understanding of who we are, and when we seek the approval of others in our youth, this is to make sure that we become someone who matters to others and fits into the “tribe”, or general social fabric of the community.

But if we’re someone who isn’t bound by the community, then it’s harder to establish our purpose around the wishes of those around us. Instead, we might adapt the concept to a much wider sense of “community”, seeking to fit into a global image by pursuing some other passion that gives us a sense of happiness and fulfillment. Instead of defining ourselves by concepts like family, we might see ourselves as someone who helps others realize their dreams in business, or as entertainers on a global scale.

So, it’s perfectly normal that, when that self is attacked by others, our first instinct is to be defensive. When someone doesn’t like us, our first instinct is to try and understand why and to justify who we are in a way that makes us happy and perhaps even conforms to their worldview. But in a world where so many millions of different people have wildly different opinions over every facet of life, it’s impossible to please everyone with who we are – and we’ll always come across people who dislike us for one reason or another, be it because of who we are or because of a deeper personal issue they possess.

And once we grow used to that sort of criticism and secure with our understanding of who we are and what we want, we can ignore the intrusive questions and pointed accusations of others who don’t like something about us.

But some people don’t grow used to it. They don’t have the ability to see past other people’s criticisms because they relate to the criticism more than they relate to themselves. They have an idea of who they want to be, but they aren’t sure that’s who they are, and they have a deeper self-image that is built around doubt and self-loathing than the outward projection of confidence they use to mask their inner worries.

And when criticism is lobbed at them, they become defensive and aggressive again and again because of that insecurity, and the need to constantly validate themselves through little pursuits of vanity or self-embellishment.

On the outside, these may be confident, beautiful people with a powerful self-image. But upon deeper inspection, we find little elements of overcompensation and insecurity, anger and self-doubt. And that’s not to be ridiculed, or attacked – because the only way that person can go from feeling lost and undefined to finding actual happiness with who they are is through the very same thing that is so crucial in creating a confident and healthy self-image in teens becoming adults: compassion.

Confidence Isn’t Self-Love

It’s true that, in a way, people who love who they are and are happy with their lives are also more confident in their abilities. More accurately, they know what they can and can’t do, and they have a better definition of their boundaries and limitations without being angered by them. They are, as we all say, content.

Expressing an outward confidence in who you are, to the point of becoming oppressive and defensive, isn’t self-love. It’s an example of inner turmoil. As some say, a high self-esteem may not actually mean you’re going places in life. There is such a thing as having too high an opinion of oneself, mostly as a symptom of truly seeing ourselves as much smaller than we might be.

It’s confusing, for sure, but rather simple to trace to a point of origin – at some point, people who are unsure of themselves and force a fabricated image of who they are to cover up how they really feel about themselves may have been deeply hurt or constantly criticized earlier in life. They may have lost the chance to feel accepted or secure in who they want to be because everyone around them were against it. And they lash out, frustrated with themselves and others. They may cover it up to mask the pain.

In some cases, this may be a part of a personality disorder like narcissism (although not all narcissism includes self-doubt). In other cases, a person might have deep-seated feelings of anxiety and even depression, while employing an outward persona of confidence to distract from those feelings. Or, they may have no symptoms of actual mental illness and are simply troubled and insecure.

Let’s go back to the earlier assertion: people with insecurities and issues regarding self and self-loathing, regardless of how they choose to reflect that to the outside world, can find healing through compassion.

Compassion Against Hatred

We’ve talked about how we often develop a sense of self-based on others. We’ve talked about how who we are is tied to how useful we feel to others. And we’ve talked about how people who take issue with who they are haven’t had the chance to cement their place in society or purpose in life due to constant rejection, at first from outside and then within themselves. Like self-love, the origins of their self-hatred may very well have begun through others.

And it’s first through others, and then through themselves that people dealing with issues of insecurity can find happiness. Compassion is key in this – compassion is the ability to feel concerned for the suffering of others. But it’s more than that because it’s also the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. Being compassionate is about empathy. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing their perspective on things, rather than berating them for how they feel about something without even trying to understand the context of their situation or their mindset because they are, according to you, going about this “the wrong way”.

Compassion isn’t about molding to someone’s negativity and letting them wallow in their self-loathing. Just because it means “suffering together”, doesn’t mean it extends to promoting pity. Instead, compassion is about telling someone that it’s okay to feel the way they do, both in terms of sadness and happiness. It’s okay to feel rejected and hurt, and it’s okay to feel passionate about something that you may have been ridiculed for in the past. It’s okay to pursue your dreams. It’s okay to be who you want to be, because we accept you in our community, and value you as a person.

We All Need Love

The easiest way to relate to this bit of knowledge is by calling upon an adage: no man is an island. We thrive not in isolation, but together. We may seek each other out in different ways, where some people prefer the company of many and other people prefer just a small selection of friends, but we all need each other to feel like we belong. Individuality and developing a sense of self is important for a healthy psyche, but we also need to recognize that that still depends on others.

Because as human beings, we’re not actually inherently selfish creatures like we constantly tell each other we are. Our human nature isn’t “I’ve got mine, so you can go screw yourself” – it’s to look out for those who matter to us. It’s just an unfortunate fact that we’re currently conditioned to be critical and skeptical of others because of the way our society is molded, but true happiness comes from learning to accept others and ourselves.

By expressing compassion towards others, we can help them heal from rejection, and the unneeded criticisms levied at them by others who may have sought to put them down or destroy their feelings.

Of course, there will always be things we can’t emphasize with, like hatred and destruction. We can’t feel compassion for someone who wants to hurt others and discriminate, and we can’t emphasize with a person who feels it is their duty to spread separation and hate.

But very few people want to do that, down to their core. Most people want to be happy and be with others who feel happy for them, and they seek happiness in countless ways, through art or philanthropy or the pursuit of knowledge. And we need to support and be positive about people seeking to be who they are, rather than put them down and foster more negativity.

5 Herbs that Treat Anxiety and Depression

5 Herbs that Treat Anxiety and Depression

There are many synthetic medicines on the market today that treat anxiety and depression.  Doctors are quick to prescribe these medicines and we as consumers, are quick to take them because anxiety and depression can be so overwhelming.

Anxiety can make a person feel out of control and keep them in a constant state of worry, even if there is nothing to worry about.  Out of the blue it can hit you, your brain telling you to worry or have fear, for no reason.  You try to control the thoughts of worry but it is a useless attempt.  Anxiety then takes over and can hinder your social activities, your work life and can even make you scared to leave your comfort zone.

Depression can cause a person to have sadness and lack the motivation to leave the house or worse, even get out of bed.  When depression sets in you can find yourself isolated and crying for no reason other than you feel like you have an extreme case of the blues.  Depression can take away your appetite, your desire to be social, and your desire to engage in life.

If you have experienced either of these then you know how debilitating they can be.  But you do not have to live with these disorders anymore.  There are many ways to successfully treat anxiety and depression, with medicines and with therapeutic techniques.  Another way to treat these disorders is through a combination of anxiety treatment or depression treatment along with the use of medicinal herbs.  Yes, there are herbs that can be grown naturally or purchased that can help you escape anxiety and depression and live a happy and mentally healthy life.

Scientific American reports that people are turning to more natural medicines due to the high cost of prescriptions, the side effects associated with prescribed medicines, and the fact that the prescribed medications do not work the same for every person.  Medicinal herbs such as lavender, saffron, passion flower, ginseng and chamomile are being researched and are showing they can have a positive impact on someone struggling with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.  While it sounds simple, using medicinal herbs is not a quick fix but over time, can positively impact your mental health.

Lavender

Lavender sachets, soaps, sprays, and oils can be found in big box stores as well as online and in specialty stores.  There are even essential oil companies that have created multi-level marketing programs to promote oils such as lavender and its benefits.  The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health states lavender has a long history in the Mediterranean and has become very popular in the United States in the last decade or longer.  It has many positive side effects such as boosting mood and relieving anxiety.

The Natural Medicine Journal reports lavender can be beneficial in treating both anxiety and depression.  There have been numerous research studies with findings of lavender being very effective in improving mental health.  Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine concluded through three separate studies that lavender had a great impact on those with anxiety when used orally or through odors.

Dr. Galloway explains how to use lavender oil and why it is important in the use of decreasing anxiety in this video. The University of Maryland Medical Center provides further information on lavender and how to use it, claiming the essential oils from lavender are taken from the flowers and can be used orally, topically or through smell.

So whether it is taken orally through liquid droplets or supplements, or sprayed on the body, or rubbed in like lotion, or even stuffed in a sachet and put under your pillow, you can be assured that lavender will have a calming effect on you and when used regularly can enhance your overall well-being.

Saffron

Saffron, the herb, comes from the plant saffron crocus and the cost of this spice is compared to that of gold. It is quite expensive and highly sought after. Watch how it is made in this video where they travel to Morocco to see just what goes into cultivating saffron.  Many reports state that saffron is a very expensive herb, often used as a sweetener, but because it is still hard to cultivate, the price to purchase it can be higher.  It can take 75,000 saffron bulbs to make just one pound of saffron spice.

The results of different studies have proven that saffron is effective in treating mental health disorders.  Healthline reports on studies that test the herb Saffron to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.  It was found that when compared to a placebo group, the saffron users reported fewer symptoms. University Health News claims saffron can be just as effective as Prozac, a commonly prescribed medication for depression and to back this claim up, The Psych Congress Network shared results of one study that showed saffron was equally effective as prescribed medicines in treating depression.

To be happy, people have to increase levels of serotonin in the brain.  Plants such as saffron contain serotonin.  So it only makes sense to use plants containing serotonin to increase serotonin levels in the brain.  It has often been said to eat salad at night because lettuce leaves have a calming effect.  The serotonin connection may be present here as well.  Similar to other herbs, saffron can be taken in a supplement or liquid form or used in perfumes.

Chamomile

Because anxiety and depression can come from being overstressed, it is important to implement herbal remedies to counteract our body’s reaction to stress. Chamomile is suggested as one of the best ways to fight stress. Chamomile is defined as being one of the most ancient herbs used to treat medical issues due to its many terpanoids and flavonoids which can aid in healing.

Everyday Roots suggests depression and anxiety can go hand in hand with not getting enough sleep or not getting the right kind of sleep.  Chamomile can help significantly with getting proper sleep. Using chamomile tea can be a great way to ingest chamomile and allow the body to slowly adjust to its calming effects.  Apparently, chamomile works on the same brain receptors as does an anti-anxiety synthetic drug often prescribed to you by a doctor.  However, chamomile is much safer to use than the synthetic drugs, with less side effects and less addictive traits.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also recommends the use of chamomile for relaxation and offers a recipe of one ounce of chamomile to every two or three cups of water.  It can be used internally or externally.

Passion Flower

Passion flower has been known to have an almost hypnotic like effect on some people.  When taken properly, it can calm a person and allow them to get a deep sleep so their mind can rest.  It is best when taken as a tea.  Calm Clinic explains that passion flower decreases anxiety due to having a large number of chrysin and benzoflavone flavonoids, which are the chemicals that can affect our bodies and create the relaxing feeling.

Extra Happiness gives us a better look at passion flower and its sedative like traits.  Passion flower can work for a range of disorders including narcotic withdrawal, anxiety, panic attacks, pain relief, mood swings and even menstrual cramps.

Dr. Andrew Weil states passion flower can calm you down without giving you total sedation.  He urges us to try passion flower for anxiety before trying any synthetic drugs.  However, he also notes that if you are pregnant or on a blood thinner, it is important not to take any herbs or medicines without the approval of a medical doctor.

People today are super busy and over-stressed with work and personal responsibilities.  Passion flower will allow your mind to relax so that you are not constantly thinking about what you have to do tomorrow at work or at home.  It allows your mind to be calm so you can get a good sleep so your entire body can rest and heal.

Ginseng

Medical News Today describes ginseng as having a fleshy root that can enhance many medical functions within the body.  It is noted that American and Asian Ginseng are the types of plants that are beneficial, whereas Siberian ginseng is not actually ginseng.  Be careful when you are purchasing this herb.  Make sure you are getting a genuine product.

This product will be more expensive than other herbs but can’t be well worth the payment when realizing its medicinal benefits.  Ginseng takes about six years to mature and cultivating it before six years will decrease its medicinal power.  There are people who will pay a lot of money for good ginseng and this herb has caused many fights among landowners who find poachers scouring their land for ginseng.  It is a rare crop to find due to the specifics of the area in which it grows is not common and has to be just right.  For instance, they have to have shade on the side of a mountain near a water source.  There are other specifics like this which makes it even more difficult for a person to grow their own ginseng from seed.  Finding ginseng plants on your property can be like finding gold to some, like hitting the jackpot.

Dr. Edward Group at the Global Healing Center states ginseng has been used for hundreds of years by the Chinese as a form of medicine due to its ability to increase energy levels and improve a person’s state of mind. Be Brain Fit reports many ways ginseng can improve mental health:

  • Boosts energy
  • Improves sex drive
  • Can ease withdrawal symptoms from cigarettes or drugs
  • Boosts mood and mental well-being

Adaptogens claims ginseng can alleviate many forms of depression, whether it is menopausal depression or more generalized depression.  Mental health is just one way ginseng can help the body. Ginseng uses are varied and can benefit many ailments including diabetes, endocrine system, cholesterol levels, and combats stress and fatigue.  When any of these bodily systems are not functioning properly, depression and anxiety can follow.  Therefore it is important to make sure all functions within your system are working as they are supposed to.

Conclusion

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression or both, please seek help.  Whether it is from your family doctor or an alternative medicine specialist, seek help.  There are so many other people out there who are experiencing the same emotions you are experiencing.  After finding the right person to work with you on healing, know your options.  It is easy to just start taking the first pill prescribed by the doctor.  However, the side effects and withdrawal symptoms that come with this pill are not so easy to handle.  Why not try the safest method first and if it doesn’t work, then move on to trying prescribed medications.

Herbs have been used for centuries in the United States, Asia and all around the world.  Not many synthetic medicines have reputations as good as natural herbs.  Herbs such as lavender, saffron, chamomile, ginseng and passion flower have documented research to support their benefits.  Each one of these herbs can be linked to improved mental health.

There is always a new and better synthetic drug coming out to replace the last “best” medicine.  While using natural herbs to enhance you mental health may take a regular routine and a little more time, it is well worth the effort.  Herbs used in conjunction with other coping techniques have been proven time and again to be very effective when fighting anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and depression and other mental health disorders can be conquered so that you can have a healthy life full of happiness.  Using alternative herbs can help you appreciate the journey to becoming happy.  Using herbs allows you to be more in control of what you put into your body, your own dosage, your own feelings and actions.  Ultimately, getting control back over our own lives seems to be what we are seeking in the first place.

 This article was original published on Vantage Point Recovery.