It is hard to describe how a person can hate oneself with so much passion without physically taking it out on oneself. I doubt that someone who has never felt this could even imagine what it is like to be trapped in one's own head while words and emotions of such violence mentally pummel you. There is no one to turn to with this intensity of feeling. It frightens me; I would never wish to inflict it upon another, though I have once before, unfortunately, which was a mistake I do not intend to repeat. It is so strange and unlike my usual self, I can only think that it comes directly from the Adversary. When it is over, after I have done the things I describe below, I feel better and more centered again.
The only thing that I can do during times like this is cling to my deep conviction that there is a God, and that He loves me. When I cannot like or forgive myself, I have to remember that there is One who does both. Sometimes I am reminded through music, or the scriptures. Occasionally a friend or acquaintance calls at the right time to shake me out of myself and give me back perspective. At times, when it seems I can no longer bear it, I have felt the very real feeling of arms enfolding me and holding me close. The feeling has been so real, I have been afraid to open my eyes in case it left.
If you have ever had to deal with these sorts of feelings, I plead with you to gain a testimony of the omnibenevolence of God. Pray with all the energy within you to feel Him. He is there! If He, as a perfect being, loves you, then if you do not love yourself it is only another imperfection. What you see, what you think about yourself cannot be truth if it is not also love.
If what you feel is a result of sin—of separation from God—you must repent! Repentance is not the demand of an authoritarian God, it is the plea to turn to Him again, to look at Him and see how much He loves you. Yes, you make mistakes and even sin. That is why Christ paid for that sin. He loves you so much, He suffered pain and death to show you that your imperfection doesn't have to matter. The words of Christ Himself read "If [you] come unto me I will show unto [you your] weakness. I give [you] weakness that you may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for [you if you] humble [yourself] before me; for if [you] humble [yourself] before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto [you]."
Keep clear distinction between sin and mistakes. When we sin, we must expect to be chastened, but do not feel that you must be chastened or condemned for mistakes. Neither sin nor mistakes make you a bad person, they do not make you evil or irredeemable. As Elder Oaks has pointed out the Lord deals differently with mistakes than he does with sin. Mistakes do not require repentance, only to be learned from. Sometimes it takes a long while to learn. When we came here to earth, it was expected that mistakes would be made. When they are, simply throw up your arms and yell "HOW FASCINATING! I have a chance to learn something!" In the Atonement of Christ, even sins become learning opportunities.
I suppose experiencing my feelings when I hurt others has helped me forgive where many believe they could never forgive. Although I have been hurt by others in the past, I am capable of at least knowing the hurt will not last forever, and am usually able to forgive, even through the pain. In this sense, I think my curse is also a blessing.
When you hurt, when you feel alone or are pummeled by the lies of Satan, remember, as Christ would say:
"Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, they troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee they deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
***Dallin H. Oaks gives a vital explanation of sin, mistakes and forgiveness that can be applied to oneself.
Some great advice about dealing with sin and sinners, especially those whose sins have separated them from some of the more obvious blessings of God. This is a great read which deserves its own post some day.
Gordon B. Hinckley shares how to be happy.
The classic talk by Elder Packer which shows the value of a soul—even yours.
Elder Wirthlin demonstrates how the Savior valued even one soul.
Neal A. Maxwell outlines how to apply the Atonement.
A wonderful essay on how to forgive yourself.
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Zander.
Finally, one about letting go of past mistakes.