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.


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Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

2 thoughts on “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.


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