Why do I feel like everyone hates me? It’s a question many of us have asked at one time or another in our lives. Whether you’ve felt ostracized by a group of friends, been excluded by peers or describe yourself as the black sheep of the family, you may have felt it in many different circumstances.
Everyone has moments like this once in a while, when emotions are running hot or the group drama has really kicked into overdrive. But when these feelings become pervasive — when they’re chronic or they recur so often that there’s a pattern — it might be the sign of something happening on a deeper level.
The truth is that regardless of how common these feelings may be in your life or anyone’s, they’re often a sign of problems like low self-esteem, excessive worry, imposter syndrome or something more serious.
If you’re feeling this way today, or have felt this way in the past, you probably have many questions about the causes, related symptoms and the ways to get rid of this wholly unpleasant feeling.
You deserve to feel loved and included — let’s track those positive feelings down together, by looking at your existing negative feelings in detail.
Before we get into the mental health stuff, we should probably rule out the external explanations for why you’re feeling this way.
There are straightforward explanations to consider, like guilt. We’ll assume you haven’t said cruel things to everyone in your social circles, caused a scene at a recent social gathering, wronged a loved one or betrayed someone who trusted you in a significant way. If you have done any of these things, apologies might be in order.
But assuming you’re not actively being a bad friend, bad sister, bad mother or daughter, there are a few things that may be going on both inside and outside your head that could be triggering these feelings. And most of them can be linked to forms of mental health issues.
Take, for instance, the experience of feeling unworthy of being liked and accepted by your peers. Is it the truth, or is imposter syndrome leading to you making connections between unrelated thoughts?
If so, you may be engaging in negative self-talk — a form of cognitive distortion. Negative thoughts about yourself and negative self-image in general are forms of self-talk, or the way we talk to ourselves.
Negative self-talk can be a megaphone for our fears and the things that make us self-conscious. All of us see ourselves differently than other people do, for a variety of reasons, and negative self-talk can amplify that.
You may see yourself more negatively than others do because you remember your worst or most embarrassing moments more clearly. You might also have a less-than-accurate perception of your abilities in certain areas of life.
There’s evidence that most people assume they’re less liked by others than they actually are. A 2018 study examined the “liking gap” which they described as the distance between how much you think someone liked you in a first interaction and how much they actually liked you.
The researchers found two things. First, most people underestimated how much they were liked by strangers after a first meeting. Second, they continued to underestimate how much someone liked them after subsequent conversations.
In other words, this study suggests that the average person almost always assumes they’re less well-liked than they actually are.
So in that respect, this “everyone hates me” mindset is somewhat common. However — and this is the important part — there’s a difference between being slightly off on your assessment and fully convinced that everyone actively hates you. If the latter is happening, it’s likely a sign of a deeper problem, and potentially a mental health condition.
It’s hard to determine the exact reason why you feel this way without context. Your reason for feeling like everyone hates you might be entirely different from someone else who assumes they’re hated. There are some common conditions, however, that can induce a feeling that you’re disliked, disrespected or that people are disappointed whenever you show up.
Depression, for instance, can seriously mar our self confidence. It can make us feel worthless, hopeless, crush our self esteem and can even make us feel like nothing we do matters — like the universe is indifferent to us (or hates us).
Bipolar disorder, which is characterized by manic (up) and depressive (down) swings in mood can also make you think everyone feels negatively about you — including yourself.
Anxiety disorders, likewise, can cause some damage to our sense of self-worth, and make us feel like we’re destined to fail in the most spectacularly embarrassing ways. When you have anxiety, your brain gets stuck in a looping montage of worst-case scenarios. You blew that deadline last week, so your boss must now hate you with every fiber of their being. The whole team must wish you would just quit — you just know it, without any real or solid evidence.
There’s even a particular type of anxiety disorder, called social anxiety disorder, in which your fear of humiliation or rejection from the group is arguably the central factor in all the anxious feelings you experience. Social anxiety disorder can rob you of relationships and friendships by essentially making your fear of losing or ruining them too great. The result is that you spend your time at home, feeling like you’re not welcome, all because your brain is telling you that you should avoid opportunities to embarrass yourself.
Remember that negative self-talk thing we mentioned? Well you can use it against your fears and negative thinking by replacing it with positive self-talk.
Positive self-talk has the ability to push athletes to new levels of achievement. It has the potential to induce incredible acts of perseverance and successes you never thought possible. It has the potential to change you for the better — even if you just use it to stop feeling like everyone hates you.
Positive self-talk, however, is just one element of strategy for reducing these feelings. And when it comes to conditions like social anxiety, there are far more proven and effective solutions like psychotherapy and medication.
One commonly suggested form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, which gives you the skills to reject those anxious, negative thought patterns and stop letting them run your life.
With CBT, you can learn to push away the “everyone hates me” thoughts that keep you from saying yes to social plans and lead to feelings of dread every time you walk into work. It takes time and practice, but it’s one of the most effective and popular treatments for depression and anxiety today, and it’s something you can make a daily practice.
In all of this discussion, we’ve ignored the possibility that everyone hates you for a reason. There’s a simple explanation for why: You don’t deserve to be hated.
Everyone makes mistakes, and throughout our lives, it’s common to make mistakes that cost us the trust, love and support of those we love or care for. It happens — it’s part of the human experience.
How we handle these events is what defines us. You may not be able to salvage relationships that have been harmed, but you can grow from those experiences and make sure they never happen again.
Chances are that the “hate” everyone feels for you is in your head, but if it’s not, it may be time to talk to a professional about those feelings of regret or remorse. A mental health professional can help guide you through those feelings, reassure you that you’re not a bad person and most importantly, help you to grow from the experience.
Not sure where to find that help? Our online therapy platform is a convenient place to match with mental health professionals.
It’s available 24/7 to anyone with an internet connection, and we promise that the mental health professionals you match with won’t have an ounce of hate for you — no matter what. Our mental health resources are also a great place to answer additional questions you might have.
It’s sometimes tough for others to love you when you don’t love yourself. Find that love again today, so it can spread like wildfire.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.
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