top of page

Three Keys To Break The Cycle Of Setting Self-Loathing Goals

Written by: Bethany Perry, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

“We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.” – Lori Duschene

We live in a culture that loves self-improvement. Many of our heroes and role models are people who continuously improve themselves and grow as people. Personal development and growth are wonderful. It’s natural that we seek inspiration from those who are successful in the areas we desire to change.

A quick look behind the curtain can show a different reality: many of us arrive at the conclusion that self-improvement is needed because of a deep seated self-loathing. An intense dissatisfaction with ourselves is often what drives us to change: the proverbial “I’m not enough” syndrome. All the effort that follows is now filtered through the lens of self-hatred instead of self-love. No wonder it is so hard to maintain the effort after a few days, weeks or months.

If you’ve ever found yourself signing up for a new diet, exercise program, meditation app, or anything else because you are so frustrated with the way you are, give this 3-step process a try.

Step One: Cultivate Self-Awareness

You might think that self-loathing necessitates some pre-existing knowledge of the self; after all, you can’t dislike what you don’t observe. But, true self-awareness comes from a more mindful place: slow down, notice your breath, listen to your body, and observe your mind. When you see what’s there, you can start to clarify what you want - and don’t want.

We often jump to action before taking the time to sit quietly with ourselves. The why is understandable; being with ourselves can be uncomfortable. A research study was designed to investigate how people feel when they are sitting quietly alone with themselves. Participants were given the ability to self-administer a mild electric shock during their alone time. 67% of participants pushed the button that delivered the shock. While it’s not entirely clear why, the researchers chalk it up to a mix of boredom and the potential unpleasantness of being alone with only your own thoughts as company. Crazy hey? Although I could delve into my own thoughts about this study, I will leave that for another day.

If it was entirely unpleasant and without reward to spend time alone in self reflective thoughts, human history wouldn’t be full of examples of people who devote so much of their lives to meditation, prayer, and other quiet reflection. It’s fair to say that the ability to be at peace with yourself takes practice and becomes easier when setting aside time to listen to you.

What do you say to yourself, what dreams do you hold, become comfortable with what was previously uncomfortable. After all - it’s YOU we are talking about!

By allowing yourself the opportunity to notice what you think and feel in any given moment, you gain control over your thoughts and feelings. Awareness means we are less driven by our unconscious mind and better able to make conscious choices about how we want to be in the world. From that foundation a healthy, constructive, and sustainable way of embarking on positive change can occur.

Step Two: Self-Integration

Of course we can never ‘escape’ our unconscious mind; nor would we want to - there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ in there that makes us who we are. Rather, the next logical step is self-integration. Shift away from the fight within yourself of being two (or more) different selves competing for dominance. Self-integration is a feeling of congruence and harmony that comes from accepting all the parts of ourselves (even if they don’t exactly fit with one another), as valid and valuable.

Raising self-awareness creates greater self-compassion which, in turn, leads to self-acceptance. How many of us set goals in an attempt to change who we are, without acknowledging the parts of us we want to keep? How often do we want to simply ‘fit in’ with society’s viewpoint of who we ‘should’ be?

Is it time to stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself?

Part of the human condition is being different than each other and also carrying opposites within ourselves. We are kind and we are cruel. We are altruistic and we are selfish. We are generous and we are stingy. Self-compassion allows us to begin to see the opposing, hypocritical parts of ourselves as an experience of the human condition. The more we can accept this, the more effective we will be at coaching* ourselves through change. (A side effect of self-compassion is compassion for others.)

The process of self-integration is necessarily facilitated by self-compassion. We can’t move towards self-acceptance and self- integration if we are not kinder and more understanding to ourselves.

And what is one major component of self-compassion? So glad you asked! Mindfulness. This is why we need the necessary foundation of self-awareness to move forward. Through gratitude and loving ourselves now, we can create the ‘me’ we long to be in the future. One baby step at a time.

Feeling the sense of congruence within ourselves - the feeling that all the parts of us ‘belong’ - allows trust. Trusting that we are who we have needed to be creates a new perspective as we imagine how we want our future selves to evolve. Rather than seeing what we hate and trying to eliminate it, we can look at what we are, accept that it is so, see the value that is already there and then decide how to build on that.

Step Three: Self-Love

Self-love is one of those terms that is often over used, but not always fully understood. In general self-love is: Holding a high regard, appreciation, or gratitude for yourself - exactly as you are, right this very second. On the surface this seems to be at odds with self-improvement; if everything is perfect the way it is, why change? But of course nothing is ever perfect (or ever will be). Self-improvement driven by self-love is not only more enjoyable, it’s easier to implement and, more importantly, to sustain.

Let’s use weight loss an example.

You ‘hate’ the fat on your thighs or your stomach or the proportion of your hips to your shoulders…the list can go on and on and on. If you choose to go on a ‘diet’ based on the foundation that you are not enough without this change, you will be highly unlikely to be successful in your endeavors.

Why is this?

“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe? Sometimes we believe things on a subconscious level that we are not aware of.” - Scott Tebow

When we base a successful outcome on the ‘foundation of our flaws, we will continue to find flaws due to this deep seated belief system of who we are at the core. Your brain will actually do this for you.

The keys to successful weight loss (or any change) is to first love yourself as you are. EVERY inch of you - inside and out. Discover new ways to serve the body you love and the body will respond in kind. This is based in science (feel free to reach out if you want to see the research). Maybe you choose to walk more, give up sugar, or only have one piece of chocolate a day - graduate into greater movement forward while letting go of the ‘need to deprive’. This process takes longer than a quick fix ‘diet’ BUT it proves to be lasting.

It’s important to base our desire to improve by acknowledging we deserve to be happy, healthy and satisfied in life. This is a revolutionary change from the typical desire to escape the self loathing thoughts of whom you believe yourself to be.

Self-criticism and shame perpetuate our self-loathing. This makes it harder to sustain the changes we want to see in ourselves. This is because this negative psychological state makes it harder - if not impossible - to learn and therefore sustain our new habits. Getting stuck in this cycle unfortunately facilitates frustration and hopelessness, which fuels further self-loathing.

You already know this cycle doesn’t work. The way to create lasting change is to do things differently. See above. While it may take more effort and grace initially, in the long run your life will be full of greater ease and ultimately better overall wellbeing and health.

Utilizing our example of weight loss, the body will begin to shed those extra pounds as you find yourself intrinsically motivated to keep going, fueled by a deeper sense of increased self value. Applying this to any challenge you are experiencing will have the same effect.

I would love to hear your stories as you apply these principles to your life.

You are invited to participate in a Workshop Series to support the embrace of ‘The Uncharted Territory - Creating Sustainable Change’.

If self-coaching is not enough for you, I would be honored to support your journey to growth and desired change!

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Bethany Perry, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

As a gifted and intuitive Transformation Coach and Motivational Speaker, Bethany Perry has more than 30 years of experience in various healing modalities. She utilizes Neuroscience, Emotional Health, Nutrition, and Yoga to inspire clients to safely explore and overcome a variety of biopsychosocial challenges. These are the 4 pillars of Bethany Perry's Whole Life Healing method. By combining these pillars with the practice of meditation, Bethany’s compassionate approach gently and lovingly promotes healing, especially for clients who may not have had success with other methods.

She is a certified as: a Neuroscience Life & Health Coach; with the Daniel Amen Affiliated Education Center; Brainspotting Practitioner; Trauma & Resilience Coach through Arizona Trauma Institute; Transformational Coaching based on NLP methodology; Experienced Yoga Instructor; KRIPA Iyengar Yoga teacher for Addiction & Addiction related ailments including TBI, and more. Bethany is the owner and founder of Whole Life Healing Coach, and Whole Life Healing Centers, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive healing strategies for individuals and families impacted by emotional and physical trauma.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page