Self-loathing requires a “self” to be loathed.

So who is doing the loathing, and who is being loathed?

Sharon Salzberg, a great meditation teacher in the west, once asked the Dalai Lama what his thoughts were on self-hatred. He didn’t understand the question. His translator tried to explain it, but he was still confused. He didn’t know what self-hatred was. When she explained it, he asked, “How you could you think of yourself that way?”

Sharon found it fascinating and somewhat freeing to see how foreign this negative way of relating to oneself was to the Dalai Lama.

Self-loathing is common in our culture. It’s a form of tyranny against oneself and often leads to great anxiety, depression, and overall suffering.

If you notice this arising, in addition to having some compassion for yourself, a helpful question to ask may be, “who is loathing who?”

When the thought arises of “you’re an idiot.” Who’s the idiot? Who’s the recipient of that comment, and who’s saying that comment?

For self-loathing to impact us, it needs a self to land on.

Maybe that “self” is more ambiguous and less concrete than you think. Perhaps this is just random thinking that is arising. Who is yelling at who?

It’s not designed to have an easy answer, if an answer at all. The reflection itself is the intervention.