You may have had the thought, “I feel like everyone hates me,” at some point. Here’s what it could be stemming from and what you can do.
“Does everyone hate me?”
If you’ve ever had the thought, you’re not alone. The all-consuming negative thought is common among those with anxiety and mood disorders, those with self-esteem issues, and those of us who might simply be having a bad day.
It may help you to learn why this unhelpful feeling occurs and how you can change your mindset and stop thinking all the people in your life share the same sentiment toward you.
The first sign that this may just be a perception is that superlative word in the middle: everyone.
Sure, you can be disliked by some, but all isn’t reasonable.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and director of Comprehend the Mind in New York City, says that thoughts such as these may form as a way of coping with adverse life events.
“More often than not, your worries can outweigh logic, and it can overwhelm you and cause genuine distress,” she explains.
Hafeez adds that “stress could cause people to adapt their thinking in ways that are useful for what they believe to be their immediate survival — but this way of thinking isn’t rational or healthy.”
Thoughts can give rise to negative feelings if dwelled upon.
There’s no clinical definition for thinking that everyone hates you, but there may be a few psychological explanations for why you feel this way.
- Paranoia. This is an accumulation of thoughts and beliefs that everyone is against you. Paranoia can be a disorder in itself, but it’s also a symptom of other mood or personality disorders.
- Cognitive distortions. These are thought patterns not necessarily rooted in reality, such as all-or-nothing thinking, negative projections, and overgeneralizing, to name a few. A 2015 review of research describes a cognitive distortion as “a lie our brain sends to our conscious mind.”
- Loneliness. Hafeez says that feelings of loneliness are often associated with feeling like everyone hates you. Maybe you haven’t had as many social interactions as you’d like, and you begin to convince yourself that your friends are upset with you.
- Insecurity. In some cases, believing that everyone hates you could also be tied to characteristics of insecurity such as low self-esteem or self-worth.
- Bullying. Thanks to social phenomena like the bystander effect and herd mentality, both cyber- and in-person bullying can start with one individual and spread to a whole group.
Highly sensitive personalities
A highly sensitive person (HSP) may also tend to feel this way.
Research from 2018 shows that socially hypersensitive people experience greater fluctuations in self-esteem and negative reactions when there’s ambiguous or negative feedback alike, suggesting that these individuals may need more positive reassurance than others.
“If you tend to be highly sensitive or insecure, it’s possible minor incidents such as missed phone calls or lack of interaction can cause your thinking to spiral into negative thoughts,” Hafeez says.
Persistent thoughts that “everyone hates me” may be associated with mental disorders that include paranoia, delusions, helplessness, or ruminations as a symptom. Some of which are:
- depression, which research shows has a strong link with low self-esteem
- mood disorders, including bipolar disorder
- personality disorders, including paranoid personality disorder
- psychotic disorders, including schizoaffective disorder
- schizoid personality disorder
Feel like the whole world is against you?
Harmful racial stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and systemic racism have an impact on how individuals from marginalized groups may feel about how others receive them.
According to research, racism is linked to internalized shame and low self-esteem among African Americans.
“Discrimination and prejudice can lead individuals to internalize stigma or prejudice that is directed against them, manifesting in low self-esteem, stress, and fear,” Hafeez says.
If you’re wondering what you should do when you think everyone hates you, there are a few ways to reset. And it starts with understanding the difference between what’s concrete versus cognitive distortion.
Hafeez recommends taking a step back to analyze what you’re feeling first. You can try the following 3-step check-in to help assess your feelings.
- Find out what’s triggering your feelings. What thoughts are behind feelings of anxiety or what’s worsening your mood?
- Reframe the situation. Are there alternative explanations, evidence, or more positive interpretations of what you’re thinking?
- Check in with your physical self. Are you eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and taking time to relax?
According to Hafeez, if folks are genuinely disliked, it can be helpful to take a careful and honest look at any truths that may be associated with a situation — which is not always the easiest thing to do.
It may be helpful to take “everyone” out of the equation and focus on one person at a time. “Think about what this person meant, what their intentions were, and if they realize the impact of their words and actions,” she says.
“If their dislike is genuine, then determine whether they’re attacking you personally or your ideas — this way, you can assess whether it was a personal attack or a passing disagreement you can live with.”
Ask yourself whether you need to forgive someone for not appreciating what you have to offer. Is it worth your energy to worry about whether someone likes you or not? Maybe you lean into accepting yourself.
“Try your best to rise above it, rather than dwell on why they feel this way about you,” Hafeez says.
Thinking that everyone hates you might be an exaggeration, cognitive distortion, or symptom of a mental health condition. The negative feeling doesn’t have to take over your life.
With practice and patience, you can reframe your thoughts to challenge your negative self-perceptions and distinguish fact from fiction.
Whether you need to forgive someone or forgive yourself for words or deeds, try to be gentle in the process.
If you find out it’s true that someone simply doesn’t like you, remember that you’re likely better off surrounding yourself with people who appreciate all that you have to offer.