Zen and the Arrogance of Self Loathing

Yesterday I read a post from The New Zeitgeist in which the author talked about self-loathing being a sort of arrogance. I have had this thought myself but it was never fully formed in my head until now. Chronic self-loathing is, or can be, a way for each of us to set ourselves apart as special and different while also appearing modest. When I was hating myself I never thought of my self-loathing this way but it makes perfect sense.

When we tell others that we are the ugliest, or the dumbest, or the fatest, or the most unworthy of love and happiness we are saying that we are the most something, and that is better than being the same as everyone else. This is what we think we when we don’t understand that being the same as others does not take away from our specialness.

I have friends who seem to be in a perpetual state of self-loathing and when I try to help them or tell them about the things I have learned and what has worked for me in my journey to love myself I almost always get the same answers:

  1. It’s not that easy or simple for me.
  2. That would never work in my situation.
  3. My problems are different, or more difficult, than you know so you can’t help me.

It all boils down to “I am different and special and so are my problems. I am the worst person who has ever lived so nothing can be done.”. Now I am not saying that I can fix everyone’s problems, but what I do know is if you change how you view your life you can dramatically change how you feel about your life. Learning to let go of things I can’t change, learning to be aware of how I feel and why, and learning to go slowly and take time to just breathe has made me a happier person. There have been no other major changes in my life besides trying everyday to do those things.

When I tell people that they scoff and give me those same bullshit answers without even trying out my suggestions. I believe that they wish to stay in their current state of self-pity because for one, it is comfortable, and two, it makes them feel powerful. I believe these people are using self-loathing as a sort of warped way to set themselves apart and gain attention and power through manipulation of others.

I have decided that as much as I want to help these kinds of people I cannot. Everyone has to start their journey when they are ready to live better and these people think the way they are living is what is best. I don’t think they are bad people but I think the self they present to the world is a lie. I don’t think they do it on purpose. I don’t think they are bad people either. I think they just can’t see themselves as they truely are. They can’t see that there is a better way.

As so, I have also decided that I cannot indulge these kinds of people or let them into my circle. These people, again I have seen this in my own so-called friends, hate nothing more than to see someone around them happy. They belittle my efforts and my journey. They make fun of the things I try to do and try to destract me from my happiness. I am also getting the feeling that I cannot trust these kinds of people with my feelings or my ambitions. There is a quote from Maya Angelou that hadn’t made much sense to me until I read The New Zeitgiest article the quote goes:

“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’ … There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”
― Maya Angelou

Before I started this journey I read the quote and took offence. I hated myself sometimes but that didn’t mean I was untrustworthy. Now I see it from the other side and I see that not trusting them is not personal. The person that cannot love themselves cannot love others, in a healthy way. In hindsight I see that in my self-loathing I was selfish. I took and took from the well of other people’s happiness until they had nothing left and still I wasn’t any better for it. I see people doing that to me now and in order to protect myself and my state of mind (because I love myself) I cannot allow it.

I don’t know exactly what that means yet, except that I hold my cards closer and reveal less of myself until I know what I have to say will be safe with the person I am saying it to. I will be less pushy when trying to help others too because they will take my willingness to help and manipulate me and never try to help themselves. This depletes my emotional reserve and my energy. When I take on other people’s problems over and over again I also take on their emotional state and that isn’t good for me either.

I love myself, I am confident, I am moving forward. I am looking for friends who feel the same about themselves. All arrogant, self-loathing, wallowers need not apply.


6 Replies to “Zen and the Arrogance of Self Loathing”

  1. This is my big problem with martyrdom. Martyrs are often in fact more selfish than the Average Joe or Jane because everything they do is really about their own salvation. Which isn’t to say that good people are automatically unselfish. Good people don’t worry about being selfless enough. It’s simply something you do or don’t do. Facebook and other forms of mass social media have only encouraged pity, self-loathing, and victim mentality – helping breed people who only ever think of themselves, even telling themselves otherwise.

    Great post :D


    1. Thank you and I agree with your comment 100%! Thats why even on social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr I look for and follow people who are positive and who truly want to make the world a better place. On Facebook I’m obligated to be friends with family members and co-workers who only ever talk about themselves and how the world treats them so poorly and they are so good to everyone. I don’t go on Facebook a lot.


  2. i am 54 yo, going through a rough as hell patch and dealing with many of the issues you, at much younger age, go you, have identified, isolated and to whatever extent these things can be resolved, resolved. What spoke most to me about your blog was the concept that self-loathers tend to feel like they are “special” in their unworthiness. In other words, “I am so uniquely inept that you could never understand how uniquely inept, I am.” There is great power in this construct and it spoke to me in a very meaningful way. It seems like a much healthier approach is to accept that our problems, unique as they are to us, as not terribly unique in general terms. Or as Shakespeare suggests, “All the world’s a stage,” hence, our problems are no much different than those of people who have come before us or will live long after we do and the only thing that truly changes, as in the bill of a play, are the names of the players. There’s great fear, however, in embracing this equality to all others because we lose our uniqueness, self defeating and painful as this uniqueness maybe. So, kudos to you and thank you for sharing. I am grateful you didn’t think your insights were pedestrian and unworthy of sharing because they truly enlightened me.


    1. I am so happy that what has worked for me has resonated with someone else. Not that it works all the time, but there are other things to try when it doesn’t. I used to worry about losing my uniqueness just as you described but I have found that even when I normalize my own behavior, my mind still finds a way to put me at the center of the universe. It’s human nature to always see ourselves as the hero of the story because ours is the only perspective we ever see. I’m just trying to give my brain a chance to find another way to be bigger, brighter, and better than others. But like I said, it doesn’t always work. Some days I am still the worst person in the world, but I can at least find some sick comfort in knowing I’m not alone in my self-loathing. Thank you for reading.


  3. Being self-loathing doesn’t automatically mean you are arrogant. If someone is struggling with something low-self esteem or depression, it’s extremely unsupportive to assume they’re just self-centred and don’t contribute to the people in their lives. It’s very possible to be a loving, supporting person who also has low self-esteem, and it’s unfair to assume the opposite about someone because of something they often can’t control. Perhaps that was your behaviour when you were in that state, but projecting it onto others doesn’t make it fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, I think you miss understand what I am trying to say here. I don’t mean that they have behaved in a mean or self-centered way. I only mean to counter some of the harsh self-talk by reminding those, like myself, who are suffering from low self-esteem that even in our suffering we place ourselves apart and below others which cannot possibly be true. It’s natural for all humans to think this way but it helps to be aware of it. I’m only suggesting a new way of viewing low self-esteem that may help people gain a new perspective. Of course they most certainly have big hearts, and certainly contribute greatly to the lives of others in profound and positive ways. And they should focus on that and not on how they are MORE awful than anyone else, which is a negative form of arrogance and self-centered thinking. Hope this clarifies and thank you for the feedback!


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