Anti-Self: Five Proofs You Hate Yourself – Umwagarwa’s Take

Published July 11, 2019

Many people think they love themselves. Most of us want to be noticed, acknowledged and loved. However, many of us are our worst enemies. We call ourselves names. We curse ourselves. We hate ourselves. Surprisingly, we do that unknowingly or subconsciously.

Today, I would like to prove to you that, thanks to the lies you believe about yourself, you now hate yourself, even though you would not admit.

My aim is to convince you that you are worthy of love, and that the love you’re looking for is not far, but within yourself.

Proof 1: Your rarely find your own photos or videos nice and interesting.

Have you ever wondered why it is always problematic for you to find the correct photo that you can freely share to the public? You always have to position your face in a way that reduces the size of your generous facial features. You instruct the photographer to take it from a little bit far. You use filtering not only to change the mood of the picture or to play with colors, but simply because you don’t like your skin complexion. You take as many photos as possible so that you may choose those that conform to the beauty standards registered in your mind. I also do the same. Or, I used to do the same, till when I reflected on it and realized it does not make sense at all.

Here is the controversy:

Do you ever leave your face behind or cover it when you go to work? To church? To visit friends? To parties? No. Don’t your friends know how you look? Don’t your relatives know how you look? Do they have to see your photos to judge your beauty? The answer is no. In fact, the most important admirer of your beauty sees or shall see you often unclothed and without any makeup, and I want to think you don’t doubt or shall not doubt his/her love for you. Get it right! He/she does/shall not love you out of pity. He/she cherishes or shall cherish the beauty you are. He/she is or shall be in love with the person you are.

So, the only reason why you don’t like your own photos or videos, is because you hate to see yourself on those pictures and think that those who shall see the photos or watch the videos shall see the ugliness you see, and may not appreciate who you are. You find yourself less attractive on the photos that genuinely showcase your beauty features.

But, how about those you meet face to face? Did you ever wish you could hide your face from them? Do you really hate yourself that bad? Surprisingly, it doesn’t cross your mind very often, unless something like a mirror, a photo or a video reminds you how you look. When you walk on the streets, you are greeted by those you meet, they smile at you, they talk to you, and they seem not to mind how you look. Does it mean other people have no problem with your face, but you? Maybe yes. Maybe not. You remember when you posted your photo on social media, and some strangers made fun of it. Yes, strangers indeed! Who cares if those dear to you like you the way you are? My problem is not about what other people think of your looks but your own perception of your beauty.

Do you know how it all started?

You believed the lies the world told you about beauty. Somebody came up with beauty standards that excluded your unique beauty, and you accepted it without asking, “Says who?”. Did they say fair skin tone is better than darker skin tone, or vice versa? Did they say oval-shaped faces are better than circle or square-shaped faces, or vice versa? Did they say leaner noses are better than flat noses, or vice versa? What did they tell you that made you hate your own looks?

My friend, each of us is unique. Beauty is diverse. The main characteristic of beauty is diversity. This world would be boring if we were not surrounded by different shades and shapes. Imagine if all of us looked alike? Imagine if all of us were the same height? Imagine if all of us had the same skin tone? Imagine if there was no way to differentiate one person from the next?

Whenever I tell some of my friends that each of us is beautiful, some tell me I don’t mean what I say. They argue that some people are prettier than others. One friend told me that there are universal beauty standards that I can never change.

Yes, it’s true that the influential people of this world came up with those standards, but we can challenge them. All we need to do is disbelieving the tenets the powerful lodged in our mental models in order to influence how we think, feel and act.

We received that information at a very young age, or probably when we were still newborns, and we registered it at the backs of our subconscious mind. We see it on the billboards. We see it on television. We see it in beauty pageants. We see it in fashion shows. We see it on social media. Some of us rejoice to be the beauties approved by the world, and some of us bow their heads and conclude they are simply not beautiful enough to deserve the world’s acknowledgement.

What should you do?

All you need to do is to show yourself to the world. Introduce your beauty. Walk to show your uniqueness. Let them notice you. They may try to push you away, but one day they shall realize you are here to stay. One day, they will be forced to accept you, acknowledge you, and simply admire your unique beauty.

Unless you’re posing for some professional photos for commercial or branding purposes, where they may want you to stand, sit, smile, or look in a certain way, you should never be shy to showcase your beauty to the world. Even if you don’t do photos, they see you anyway, and they have no other option but to acknowledge your unique beauty.

Stop comparing yourself to others. They are not beauty benchmarks. In fact, you are comparable to none. Even your twin brother or sister (if you have one) doesn’t look like you. Celebrate only the fact that you are another beauty in this earth’s diversity.

Proof 2: You Invest a lot in seeking for acceptance and approval of others, esp. friends.

Yes, all humans are social beings. We thrive in societies. Families, friendships and all sorts of relationships mean life to us.

It hurts when we feel isolated, unaccepted, ignored, unrecognized, and unacknowledged. In fact research has shown that social rejection affects our brains in the same way physical pain does. The rejection is felt not only by the mind and the soul, but also by the body. We hate how it feels to be rejected by others.

However, as much as we want to be accepted and acknowledged, we shouldn’t be seeking for that acceptance as if we don’t believe we deserve it. We should never have to say what we don’t want to say or do what we don’t want to do, simply because we want to be appreciated by others. Doing so dilutes our uniqueness and emotionally hurts us.

If you constantly seek for the acceptance and approval of others, the truth is you actually don’t believe you deserve their acceptance. We don’t normally fight for something we already have or we deserve.

But you do it anyway, because you also don’t believe in yourself. You wished you were like others. You wished you looked like them. You wished you talked like them. You wished you thought like them.

Below are the things you do because you care much about the approval of others:

  • You always say yes to requests for your time, even when it compromises your own priorities.
  • You compliment people, even when you don’t mean it, so that they may like you.
  • You do what others like and expect to be complimented by them. When not complimented, you feel bad about yourself.
  • You change or downplay your point of view to appease others.
  • You fail to speak up when you’ve been treated unfairly by your friends or any other people.
  • You become upset or feel insulted when someone disagrees with you or what you’ve done.

My friend, do you think you are a likeable person? Do you think you have a lot to offer to others? Do you think you are the friend many people would want to have and keep? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. If your answer is a ‘No’ to any of them, then instead of seeking for others’ acceptance, you should start by convincing yourself to accept and appreciate the person you are.

Do you know why you always want to be approved by others?

You believed the lies the world told you about yourself. I don’t know what they said to you. Did they say you are from a bad family or a poor background? Did it start in your family? At school? Were you once rejected by family, friends or the society in general? If your answer is a ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you should work on your self-esteem, and learn to value the person you are. You are enough!

What should you do?

Decide today. Replace the shame associated with who or what the world said you are, with the acceptance of the unique individual you are. Stop blaming yourself for what you did or didn’t do in the past, and start making peace with the person you are. Stop doubting yourself because of what people said about your abilities, and start giving yourself the permission to make your own decisions and take actions that you deem to be important to you. You have all the faculties you need to think, feel and act as any other full and unique individual. You simply need to believe in yourself!

Let the world see you at work, hear you talking, discover your ideas, and interact with what you can offer. Yes, they may not appreciate it today or tomorrow, but you will keep on trying till they realize the value you add has its own unique colors.

Sometimes we seek to gain acceptance from those who don’t care about us, when there are other people who long to listen to us, hug us and love us the way we are. Maybe you are only looking at one corner of the room. Look at the other corner, there might be some people who accept you and appreciate you the way you are. Stop knocking on the locked door, when there are many other doors that are widely open for you.

Proof 3: You invest more in a love relationship than your partner.

I guess I won’t need to explain this much. You know why. A person who does not believe he/she is likeable and lovable always thinks it’s a miracle when someone finally claims to have fallen in love with him/her. He/she sees that love as a rare gift he/she should protect and keep no matter what. That’s not bad! I wished all lovers guarded their love carefully.  

However, you need to know that the person who truly loves you treats you like his queen or her king. He/she does not disrespect you. Loving you is not doing you a favor. He/she loves you because you are lovable. That’s it!

The only reason why you allow him/her to treat you like crap, to disrespect you, to abuse you physically, verbally or emotionally, is maybe because you don’t know your worth.

My friend, you are a darling that should never be taken for granted, but you don’t know. Yes, you have every right to love even when you are not loved back. But, you should always keep in mind that the first person you have to love is yourself. You should protect yourself from all relationships that may make you shed a tear of sadness. You deserve to be loved and cherished.

Below are a few things you do that reveal that you give more than you take from a love relationship:

  • You don’t do sex to enjoy it, but to buy your partner’s love. Sometimes you initiate it to seek for his/her attention, or you accept to do it even when you don’t feel like, because you’re afraid he/she might get upset and dump you.
  • You are the only one who apologizes and fixes problems even when he/she is the one who wronged you.
  • You follow his/her schedule, but he/she never takes into consideration your own priorities.
  • You reach out first, call him/her more often, visit him/her more often (if you don’t live under the same roof) – When you don’t start, nothing moves.
  • You tolerate his/her bad habits and his/her disrespectful actions towards you.
  • You talk much about him/her but he/she never talks about you. Your family and friends know him/her, but his/her family and friends don’t know you.
  • You know more about him/her than he/she seems to know about you. Even when he/she doesn’t tell you, you dig to know the person he/she is. But, what you’ve managed to tell him/her about you, he/she seems to have forgotten.

My friend, you may think you are in love, but I would like to tell you that maybe you don’t even know the true meaning of love. Love is a place where you should feel the safest. Love is a place where you should feel most loved. Love is a place where you should feel adored and cherished. You can’t give what you don’t have. Please start by working towards loving yourself first. It’s only then, you shall be able to truly and genuinely love the other.

I’m not suggesting you should take more than you give in a relationship. You should never be self-centered. You should actually care for him/her as much as you want him/her to care for you.

Don’t only love. Be in love – It’s different!

Why do you invest more than he/she does invest in your relationship?

Is it because you think he/she is dearer than you are? Is it because being in a relationship with him/her adds value to how you perceive yourself? Does having him/her as your partner make you more acknowledged or respected in the society? Is it because he/she is from a perfect family, background, descent, ethnicity, race, etc.? Why do you think being associated with him/her is something you need to pay your own wellbeing for?

What should you do?

Maybe he/she loves you but he/she does not know how to love you. Teach him/her how to love you. Let him/her know you also have needs. Let him/her know you have dreams and aspirations. Let him/her know you have plans and priorities. Give him/her some time to miss you and look for you. Give him/her the time to discover your magic. Don’t rush anything, because you know you have all it takes to get him/her notice you, get attracted to you, and come with a goal to win your love. Let him/her fall in love with you. Don’t push him/her into it.

Let him/her fall in love on his/her own without your help. If he/she doesn’t, don’t worry, many other men/women would pay gold and diamonds to have you.

Proof 4: You are afraid to express your own ideas and tell your unique stories.

When you feel unworthy, self-expression becomes a scary thing.

Sometimes you don’t express yourself because you wonder what people shall think of you. What if they don’t like what you say? What if it doesn’t come out right? What if they get offended?

Yes, it’s indeed important to think about the audience of your message, but that audience should not intimidate you enough to silence you. You should never have to change your message or change your story to please the ears of that audience. If they are not interested, it’s not your message or story you should change, but the audience you want to impress.

More than often, the challenge is that we want to impress those who don’t care about the individuals we are, our opinions or the stories we want to tell. Why would you care about how those who don’t care about you would receive your ideas or story? What if you had turned left or right to notice those who may be dying to listen to what you have to say?

Yes, there are bits of your story that you might not want to tell, not because you are afraid of the audience, but because those you care for might not be ready to chew what you would tell them, or sometimes because you think that a particular part of your story is not what the audience needs at the moment. For example, a parent might decide to wait for when her children shall have grown enough to tell them that he/she was sexually assaulted. Or, a person might choose not to tell the world how one of his/her parents used to physically abuse the other. You don’t have to tell your story when you don’t feel the need to do so. That’s okay.

However, it should never be about what the world wants to hear. It should be about you and what you are ready to tell those who need it or those who care. If you can’t craft the message the way you want, then you may need to talk to yourself first. If it is still vague and fuzzy in your mind, then you have to make sure it’s clear in your mind first, before you can share it with others.

How many times have you heard of those who say they are not allowed to tell their stories? Or that their opinions or ideas do not count? Whom do they want to get permission from? Who decides which ideas count and which don’t? Do you see it? It’s about them again! Those who don’t appreciate the person you are and who don’t care for whatever you have to say. Why do you care about how they will respond to your ideas if you know they don’t care about you as a person?

Why do you allow them to silence you?

The simple answer is that you have been convinced your voice has no value. Maybe you came to that conclusion the day you said something and somebody said, “Be quiet” or “Shut up.” Or, you once talked, and nobody seemed to be listening. Did they ignore you? Did they take advantage of what you had said, humiliated you and offended you by saying how wrong, ill-intentioned or stupid you were? I hear you. I feel you. Many of us have been there. Many of us are still there. But, today, I want to tell you that your voice counts. They actually reacted because they had heard your voice.

Are you afraid they might physically hurt you? Do you think your ideas or the stories you want to tell may put you in danger? I don’t ignore that fact. In the history of humanity, prophets, poets, philosophers and storytellers have been eliminated by those whose ears are challenged by their words of wisdom or the stories they tell.

However, I still beg you not to silence yourself. Just be mindful of the situation, and tactful in choosing your communication channels. I’m sure you will find ways to make your voice heard, without exposing your life to danger. But, you should known that sometimes, you have to take some risks if you want to change the status quo.

To effectively communicate your ideas and tell your story, you will have to replace fear with love.

Sometimes, when I listen to some stories, instead of knowing more about who the story is about and how the experience he/she lived affected his/her life; I read anger and even hate from the face and the voice of the storyteller. The same anger dictates as well the choice of his/her words and sentences.

This is because in telling your story or expressing your ideas, focusing on the person or the situation that made you feel invisible, disrespected, humiliated, fearful or angry, stimulates emotions of anger and fear in you, and affects how your ideas or stories come across.

You should speak from the place of love. You should focus on yourself and those who are dear to you, and not on those who wronged you. It’s your story, not theirs.

If you are talking about those you lost, think about the love you had for them, remember the memories you shared with them, and imagine what they would expect you to say if they were there to listen.

If it is as a story about your childhood, remember your younger self, his/her smile, and the love he/she expected from the world.

If it’s about you today, think about all the people you love and who love you, and how wonderful, lovable and great they think you are. Let them spiritually be there to hold your shoulders as you tell your story to the world.

If it is about your ideas on how we can make this world a better place, think about children and future generations, think about those people who live in misery, remember their eyes and their smiles, and imagine the kind of the world you want them to live in.

Once you are in your place of love, you may find your voice again. You may find that however how other people shall react to your message or story, you are able to speak your truth more calmly and rationally, because you know the hearts and souls you’re sending it to shall receive it as their healing soup.

Believe me, after speaking your truth, you will soon realize that it’s a healing process for yourself, through which you are able to replace negative memories with positive ones. In addition to healing yourself, you could also be creating a space for others to find their voice, hence contributing to the healing of the collective consciousness. You may be impacting more people than you realize.

Proof 5: You blame all your misfortunes to the identities you associate with the person you are.

Many people, when they think about themselves and why the world treats them unfairly, they conclude that’s how it has to be because of who they think they are and the groups they identify with. They tend to carry on their shoulders the burden of the history they did not write. They tend to accept the labels the world placed on their foreheads and all the stereotypes and assumptions associated with those labels.

When you ask them, they say; You don’t know what it means to be black (or white) in this country. You don’t know what it means to be a Hutu (or Tutsi or Twa) in this country. You don’t know what it means to be a Muslim (or Christian) in this country. They have concluded that since they cannot change those so-called identities they associate with the individuals they are, then they cannot change their circumstances or the world’s perceptions of them.

The world says: We are ugly. We are violent. We are hypocrites. We are ill-mannered. We are less-intelligent. They look down on us. We are treated as second-class citizens. There is nothing we can do about that.

My friend, before you can tell me what the world says about the groups you identify with, I want to know what you say about the individual you are. Maybe you don’t know about all the people who have the same identity you link to who you are. But, you must know something about yourself. Are you really ugly? Are you really violent? Are you stupid? Tell me.

If your answer is yes to any of the questions above, then you might need to wonder why you hate yourself that much. Is it because you don’t like what you see in the mirror? Is it because you did something that proved you to be violent? Or that you failed in school or in other situations where you could have proven your intelligence?

Don’t tell me, it’s simply because you are of this race, gender, ethnicity, religion etc. and that people of that identity are believed to be less beautiful, violent or less intelligent?

If your answer is no, I guess you agree with me that the stereotypes or the assumptions associated to the groups you identify with do not reflect the person you know you are.

Now that you understand that those assumptions do not define the unique person you; I have a question for you: What does it mean to be Black, White, African, Rwandan, Tutsi, Hutu or Twa?

Don’t you think you shouldn’t take ownership of the labels with meanings you don’t even understand? Maybe you can tell me you know who you are because of the color of your skin, the geography of your country, the passport you carry, or whatever you were told by your parents to be your descent.

Were you conscious of those identities when you were still in your mother’s womb? Were you aware of your race, ethnicity, religion or gender, etc. when you were a baby or a toddler? I don’t think so.

You had to grow for the world to start putting those labels on you. You accepted them, and now you are stuck with them. You are a prisoner of how the world defined you.

But why do you keep on attaching importance to those identities/labels?

I know. I’m not ignorant of history. It’s because of what your people endured in the past. You read in history about when they were enslaved. You read in history when they engaged in wars with other groups, and were defeated. You read in history about their greatness till when the other groups invaded their territories. Or, you are still even told today your people are the greatest and the most intelligent, and you wonder why the world hates you for being what you are.

You feel like a victim because of what other groups did to the groups you identify with and that keeps you stuck in the past.

Or you feel guilty because those you call your people wronged the members of the other group, and that makes you feel stigmatized for the history you were not par of.

You are not alone, there are many people who think like you. But, I should warn you: When you blame your unpleasant circumstances to the identities you can’t change, there is a danger you might decide there is nothing you can do about it, because you can never change who you are.

My friend, the person you are cannot be defined by one word: Black, White, African, Rwandan, Woman, Man, Tutsi, Hutu, Twa, Muslim, Christian etc. You are larger and bigger than all those labels. You are so unique that nobody in this world looks, thinks, feels and acts like you.

I want you to start thinking of yourself first as an individual, then as a social being connected to all the beings in this earth’s biodiversity. Do never limit your horizons. You are a human being. As Terense said, you should always remind yourself, “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.” Translated as “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.”

What should you do?

Start thinking about yourself as an individual first before being a member of whatever group you associate yourself with. Discover the unique person you are and learn to love that person.

Stop carrying the burden of history on your shoulders. Whatever those you consider to be your ancestors endured, you can overcome it. You don’t have to be a victim because they were victims. You don’t have to feel unworthy because there are times the world treated them as second-class citizens. You don’t have to be stigmatized by what some people did in the past carrying in their hands the flags of the groups you associate your identity with.

If you know the unique person you are, you will never allow anybody to define you however way they want. You are bigger than whatever label they might associate with the person you are. You are too unique to be defined by a group’s flag. Your story cannot be summarized by one word; which often comes with assumptions and stereotypes you don’t resonate with.

Today is your time: You can change the status quo for yourself and for the generations after you. Let the world see your beauty, interact with your intelligence, and feel the warmth of your kindness. If it confuses them because of what they think you are, let it be. They will learn that each of us is unique and with a magic that cannot be comprehended by those who don’t see further than their small horizons.


Know yourself. Discover your magic. Appreciate your unique beauty. Hug and love yourself. You are who you are and nobody else shall ever be you. You are beautiful, able, intelligent, worthy, and unique. I only pray that you get this and register it in your mind and soul.

Thanks for reading

My name is Umwagarwa

As you make the decision to love yourself from today on, let me dedicate the words below of the song written by Linda Creed & Michael Masser and sang by different artists, including one of my favorites; Whitney Houston.

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity

Because the greatest
Love of all is happening to me
I found the greatest
Love of all inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Do you want to listen to the song?

To keep in touch with me:

Twitter: @happyumwagarwa
Facebook: A. Happy Umwagarwa

To watch my Youtube Videos, go to A. Happy Umwagarwa YouTube Channel

If you like my ideas, you may read more from me on Umwagarwa’s Take

To read my poems, go to Umwagarwa’s poems

To read my short stories, go to Umwagarwa’s fiction short stories

Have you ordered a copy of HeartsAmongOurselves, my new novel set in in the post genocide Rwanda? I have posted below its trailer.

To read more and order your copy from Amazon, click here.

Those who are in Rwanda, I am pleased to inform you that the novel is now on Kigali bookshelves. Please get your copy from Librairie Caritas, in town (Tel. +250(0)788300787), and Arise Bookshop, on Kimironko road (Tel. +250(0)788354020)

Below is the trailer of Hearts Among Ourselves.