What to Do When You Feel Like Everyone Hates You

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If you've found yourself concerned that everyone hates you, know that this is a common feeling especially when you're entering a new social scene for the first time. This could mean a new job, college, or even meeting friends of friends.

This can also be a feeling that pops up if you're dealing with lots of stressors and, in those moments, you notice that your friends were at an event without you. And oh yes, it's certainly exacerbated by being able to see what everyone else is doing on social media.

This article discusses why you might feel like everyone hates you, how to reframe negative thoughts, and how to seek help to address these feelings.

Reasons Why You May Feel This Way

Verywell Mind spoke with Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, a therapist and author, to find out more about how people can cope with this feeling.

Chlipala notes that people often engage in confirmation bias. In other words, people tend to focus on the negative and ignore the positive. They even find ways to perpetuate negative beliefs about themselves.

Anita Chlipala, LMFT

People believe their thoughts without checking them to see if they are true or not.

— Anita Chlipala, LMFT

While this is a common feeling for people experiencing new places or life changes for the first time, it's a feeling that can rear its ugly head no matter where you are in life. Seeing your friends on social media can definitely elicit feelings of being left out, and so can hearing about a social event that you weren't invited to.

It should be comforting that nearly everyone, at one time or another, has felt this way. Chlipala says a common reason people express this concern is that they feel like people don’t want to be around them or like they're the only one initiating spending time with their friends.

"It is important to recognize cognitive distortions," says Chlipala. "I commonly find that people don’t even realize that their thinking is unhealthy and that it is actually is a cognitive distortion."

Common Cognitive Distortions

Let's take a look at some common negative thought patterns that can lead someone to believe that everyone dislikes them.

All-or-Nothing Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is common among people who struggle with depression or anxiety. It's when you find yourself dividing every thought into a clear black-or-white situation. For example, instead of realizing that someone caught a last-minute movie, you jump to the conclusion that they must have planned it out while choosing not to invite you. Look for patterns of thinking where you find yourself mentally using words like "never," "ever," or "always."

Catastrophizing

When you catastrophize, you take every small action and turn it into, you guessed it, a catastrophe. So if you're worried about everyone hating you, this type of thinking would take something small, like the time you forgot a friend's birthday, and turn it into a concern that everyone thinks of you as inconsiderate and have collectively chosen to omit you from outings in the future.

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Personalization

This distortion is particularly relevant to the concern of everyone hating you because it makes every situation personal hence why it's called personalization. In reality, your friend might not have called when they said they would because of a family emergency that had nothing to do with you or anything you said or did.

Mental Filters

This is when you overlook good things and choose to focus on one bad thing. So instead of remembering the good times with a friend, you keep recalling something that you regret from the past, even despite evidence that this doesn't matter to your friend.

Getting past these cognitive distortions takes practice, but once you've recognized that you fall into certain areas of thinking, you can start to address them.

"For each distortion, you can practice the healthier alternative," says Chlipala. "For example, instead of taking things personally, practice externalizing to things that have nothing to do with you. It’s not that people hate you, it’s just that they’re busy or need to prioritize a new relationship or a work project."

Healthy Ways to Reframe

When these thoughts start to bubble up, try to recognize any immediate factors that may be contributing to this line of thinking, like self-isolating or generally not keeping up with your typical routine.

That said, when these thoughts do pop up, Chlipala says it's time to practice playing your own devil's advocate.

"Challenge yourself to think of alternative explanations," says Chlipala. "You can also ask people for feedback. I wouldn’t say, 'I think you hate me. Is this true?' but you can approach the topic more gently: 'I’ve been feeling like I’ve been the only one initiating as of late. Is there something going on? I want to make sure I didn’t upset you or hurt your feelings.'" 

It's also important to remember that people often don't notice the tiny details that you may be getting hung up on. If you're worried that you said something stupid at a party and that's why people aren't inviting you, remember that most people are truly aren't thinking about it.

Chlipala notes that it's important that people recognize these negative thoughts so that they don't become a common mental pattern that your brain turns to when certain issues arise.

It could be helpful to remind yourself of the "liking gap," which was discovered after psychologists polled strangers after they had first-time conversations or interactions with others.

They found that everyone was more liked and valued by their peers than they thought they were. They also found that everyone was more focused on what they said or did during an interaction than they were with others.

Using This Feeling to Address Your Mental Health Needs

In addition to noticing when your mind is engaging in cognitive distortions, notice if you're focusing on friends and outward problems to avoid thinking about what's really going on.

For example, if you notice that you are particularly prone to this type of thinking when you're in a fight with your boyfriend or when dealing with family struggles, make sure you're noting this and practicing healthy ways of re-routing your thinking.

If you find that you fall into a pattern of cognitive distortions when you're dealing with other stressors, consider meditating or other mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques.

Seeking Help 

If you would like to work with someone to help you combat this way of thinking, Chlipala recommends seeking out a cognitive-behavioral therapist. This way you have someone to help you recognize any frequently recurring maladaptive thought patterns or cognitive distortions.

A therapist will also be able to help you come up with ways to reframe this pattern of thinking that are specific and effective for you.

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Article Sources
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  1. Boothby EJ, Cooney G, Sandstrom GM. The Liking Gap in Conversations: Do People Like Us More Than We Think? Published online September 5, 2018.