“I hate my life!” Does this statement (or, rather, exclamation bellowed in agony) resonate with you now or in the past? Then you are not alone.
Life can be joyous, exhilarating and breathtaking. However, it is also unpredictable. Challenges arise, we make wrong decisions, difficulties get hurled our way. A part of life is to dislike some of it. You might have married the wrong person, and now you loathe your time together. Maybe you were hit by an economic crisis and cannot make ends meet. You could be chronically overworked, not having the time to do anything else. Sometimes it seems only logical to hate your life.
I lived in that state for many years. And I do not mean a teenage “I hate my life!” exclamation when you embarrass yourself in front of the entire class. I'm talking about the darkest loathing of every waking moment. I know how your soul grows black when you feel inescapably hopeless and helpless.
Why did I share that with you? Because I want you to know that what you will read is not empty talk. I have travelled the path, and I did so very recently. You, too, can swim back to the surface. How? Read on for some ideas on how to fight the antipathy you nurture towards your own life — and fall back in love with it.
Hating your life is not a pretty state to be in. Wrong choices and regret tend to put you off course. I remember when I noticed my life suddenly starting to lose all its colours. I felt lost. I was paralysed by the revulsion when I catalogued all my failures that made my life unenjoyable, to say the least.
If you have had enough of loathing, start reclaiming your life. It may be a long road to travel. Still, you are bound to become sager afterwards — not to mention happier.
The very first step you need to take is to understand why you hate your life. It may be obvious, like having a job that drains your energy and has no higher purpose whatsoever. In other instances, the source of your hatred may not be so obvious. It could be a group of aspects of your life, like an unsupportive family, lack of time for hobbies, overly expensive apartment, wrong profession, and so on.
Take some time to reflect on the topic. Write down your thoughts if you need to. What it is exactly that you want out of your life?
It would be best if you determined exactly where the loathing comes from. Because unless you know why you hate your life, it will be challenging to come up with how to change it.
When you're done with the soul-searching from the first step, you should analyse the situation. What is it that you can control and change? What is out of your hands?
For example, if you're in an abusive relationship, there's little point in trying to make the abuser change. However, you can transform your perspective on things. You can gradually start refusing to think about your life and yourself as they dictate. Their insults do not have to be the building blocks of your identity.
The Serenity Prayer, regardless of your religion, speaks about a pearl of universal and timeless wisdom:
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other
Whatever your situation may be, chances are, the previous step led you to realise your thoughts are always in your hands. Indeed, it's the one thing we can always control.
We all have many automatic thoughts. Unfortunately, they are often unhelpful. Such maladaptive thinking patterns cause numerous disturbances and difficulties, as a cross-cultural study found. A straightforward example: if you keep thinking “I hate my life” then you are gearing your mind towards negativity.
“Come up with alternative statements and start thinking them instead of the negative ones. For example, replace 'I hate my life' with 'It's in my power to create the life I want.”
Work on removing such maladaptive thoughts. Challenge them, search for counterarguments. Come up with alternative statements, and start thinking them instead of the negative ones. For example, replace “I hate my life” with “It is in my power to create the life I want”. Remember: you are not your thoughts.
A systematic review of nearly 70 scientific papers confirmed the power of self-talk. Positive self-talk can improve our performance, help with depression or anxiety symptoms, and increase our confidence.
If you're in a situation that makes you hate your life, maybe you need to work on forgiveness. An extensive review of studies on forgiveness found that if we find it in ourselves to replace the unforgiving emotions with empathy and compassion, our bodies and minds heal.
And what about self-forgiveness? When you forgive yourself, you open the doors to growing as a person, a study revealed. According to Stanford University’s summary of recent findings in the field, self-forgiveness leads to:
Whether you’re feeling guilty for hurting another person, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for failing to stick to healthy habits, let go of self-hate. Letting go of loathing will help you release your energy for a fresh start and a new, happier life.
When you hate your life, you probably have a bias towards seeing the negatives. It may be a strong mental habit, making you blind to the opportunities that are still there for you.
However, if you're fed up with the hatred of your life, start practising gratitude. Focus on all of the good things in your life. Indeed, even in the darkest moments, there is something to be grateful for.
Practise gratitude and enjoy the simple things in life shutterstock/Serhii Yurkiv
It may be your memories and the wonderful moments you've had in the past. It could be your inner strength and perseverance. Look at nature and cherish its beauty. Take a moment to watch the morning and be thankful for seeing it. Savour. Then move gradually towards recognising other positives in your life — friends, family, your home, your job... find the good in everything you can.
In that way, you train your mind to stop focusing on the loathsome aspects of your life. Scientific research has confirmed the benefits of gratitude on life satisfaction and happiness. Suddenly, you will start seeing the opportunities to turn things around.
Comparing yourself to others can make you vulnerable to anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. We're naturally inclined to compare ourselves to others. Social media make it very difficult not to. However, what people showcase online is carefully corrected and selected to display only the best features.
Trying to keep up with those fake standards is bound to make you hate your life. Even when you know images and posts are edited, they can still make you feel inadequate.
“However, if you're fed up with the hatred of your life, start practising gratitude. Even in the darkest moments, there is something to be grateful for.”
So, do not compare yourself. Direct your energy towards your authentic needs and wishes instead. Ask yourself — what would I want if I was not trying to keep up? What would I do if I did not care about praise, money, accomplishments, recognition?
Do you remember the last time you felt on top of the world? You were likely living in line with your principles and passions at that time.
Now that you are not, you probably feel lost and “I hate my life” has become your mantra. Therefore, venture on to explore and (re)discover your interests. Ask yourself: “What is it that I used to love doing and believed in?” “What would I want to do if I did not have to care about money or anything else?”
Search for the activities that give you something called flow, a phrase coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is a state in which you get lost in an activity. You stop noticing time passing, and you're absorbed in what you're doing. Csikszentmihalyi’s research concluded that the more ‘flow’ you have in your life, the more resilience, well-being, and fulfilment you will enjoy.
Hating your life puts you in a dark and, often, lonely place. You may be living under circumstances that isolate you. The heaviness of the feeling might be too much to hide or to share with others.
Embrace family when you're feeling low in life shutterstock/AlessandroBiascioli
Yet, being alone is a stressor on its own. It can make it too easy to ruminate about what you loathe about your life. Try to “prescribe” yourself socialising with people. Enjoy a casual coffee with friends or a heart-to-heart conversation about what worries you. Studies revealed that social support could help you step out of your head and gain a fresh perspective on things.
When you're in a state of loathing your life, it often becomes difficult to take good care of yourself. However, the mind-body connection goes two ways. When you're sleep-deprived, sick, and physically weak, you become psychologically vulnerable, too.
So, start looking after yourself. Sleep, exercise, get enough fresh air, eat healthy food. Scientific research has proven that physical activity helps lower the levels of stress hormones in your body. It also increases your ability to focus and use your intellectual skills better. As a result, you will gain clarity and better control over your emotions.
Same goes for other acts of self-care. Give yourself plenty of self-love, even when you do not feel like it. Your future self will thank you.
After all of the steps above, you're probably ready to make an action plan. Identify what makes you unhappy. Commit to making small steps to improve things. Each day, ask yourself: “What is it that I can do to move closer to my goal today?”
The “I hate my life” monster might raise its ugly head a few more times. However, stop sabotaging yourself. Do not allow it to stay in your head for too long. Remember — our time on this planet is limited. You do not want to spend whatever time you have left hating your life — you want to change it while you can.
Yes, you only get to live once. So, does it make any sense to hate your life? Is it not wiser to try and change it around? It may take some time, but if you use the rock bottom you're at right now to push yourself back to the surface, you will be able to say: “I survived”. You will start to love living again and enjoy every moment of it. •
Main image: shutterstock/Srdjan Randjelovic
Please note that the “I hate my life” sentiment might be a symptom of clinical depression. If you experience any of the signs of this emotional disorder, make sure to reach out to your local mental health services. In the US, you can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for free and confidential support. Use Lifeline Chat or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In the UK, call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. You can also text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you're under 19.
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Stanislava Puač Jovanović has a master’s degree in psychology and works as a freelance writer and researcher in this area. Her primary focus is on questions relating to mental health, stress-management, self-development and well-being.
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