The Compassion Cure


by Andrea Gregg, Refuge Center Intern

“I’m ugly”

“I’m stupid”

“I can’t do anything right”


Many people repeat phrases like these and so many more to themselves on a daily basis, sometimes without even realizing it. Negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself can become like a plague of insidious, automatic thoughts. It can come as easily as breathing, and often you may not even realize the toll that these thoughts can take. There are many different names for these thoughts such as self-judgment, self-attack, low self-esteem, and self-hatred but the result is always the same: a defeated spirit.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of self-hatred such as beliefs passed down during childhood, personality traits (i.e. perfectionism, anxiousness, etc.), trauma, and past mistakes. The common factor among all of these, however, is a sense of shame and this is where self-hatred often blooms. Shame is the feeling that tells a person that he or she is essentially “bad” in some way that cannot be fixed. Often, when people experience shame they feel as though others could not possibly love them if their true selves were to be revealed.

Fortunately, self-hatred is not an incurable disease. It can be cured through self-compassion, the understanding that regardless of what you have been through or done you are worthy and deserving of love, acceptance, and nurturing. Because self-compassion does not always come as easily as self-hatred, it is a skill that must be practiced. However, there are many ways to foster self-compassion in your life. You can practice talking to yourself the way you would talk to a loved one. You can work on recognizing that believing something doesn’t necessarily make it true. Challenge your negative thoughts, and demand that they prove themselves. If they can’t be proven, then they must be false. Finally, work on forgiving yourself. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made by making amends or serving others. Forgive yourself for being imperfect by recognizing the beauty in your imperfections.

At The Refuge Center for Counseling our therapists are available to help you learn how to break free of self-hatred and begin to practice self-compassion. Visit us at or call us at 615.591.5262.

Source: Freedenthal, S. (2013). How to Turn Self-Hatred in Self-Compassion. Retrieved from

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