This has been an issue for me as well, manifesting in different ways. I've been reading David Brazier's "Not Everything is Impermanent". There's a chapter on hatred in it called "Hate is a Gate" that I've actually been just reading the last couple days. Hopefully you and he don't mind if I quote some of the parts related to self-hatred that have touched me and made an impact already.
David Brazier wrote:
...alcohol or binging on sweets or tobacco or having an argument. All these forms of self-destructive behavior are manifestations of self-hate growing out of mishandled interactions with others. Our complex world is a lot to cope with. When we have been buffeted by circumstance, we feel that we deserve some relief and we often seek it in ways that are actually harmful to ourselves. This is the basic meaning of the Buddhist teaching of the four truths. When we find ourselves doing something of this kind, there is an open gate into a bigger life, a spiritual possibility. Looking at our own compulsiveness toward what seems a death-instinct we may find the life-instinct hidden behind it.
David Brazier wrote:
The woman who criticizes her husband is manifesting hate. The first thing to do is to recognize it. It may be as much hate toward herself as toward him, or it may be hate for men in general, or her father or whatever, but in it there is a story that she has taken on, that she did not have to take on, that has turned her into a self-destructive demon. If we want to learn to love we have to start by identifying and studying ourselves as destructive demons. When one sees what sort of destructive demon one is, then it is possible to get close to some firm ground upon which a spiritual life can be built.
David Brazier wrote:
When Siddhartha Gotama's love was self-directed he first lived a life of indulgence until it nauseated him. He then turned to spiritual practices, but these initial practices were tainted by hate. They were self-destructive forms of asceticism. he was too proud to look at what he was doing honestly and so it got more and more extreme. He could not discover what love was really about or what its proper object was. He was still hating himself and hating his family and hating his mother for dying on him when he was born. Hate is distorted love and it was ruining his life. Then, when he was starving and down and out, Sujata the milk maid took spontaneous pity on him out of the goodness of her heart and he thus learnt the most important lesson. She was not following a plan. She was not applying a principle. She did not use a therapeutic technique. She was not doing something for herself (she probably got into trouble later from her parents for what she did). She was just doing something loving in a simple and immediate way while he had spent his time trying to do something much more complicated. She fed him the milk and he got stronger. It was an act of love. When what had happened sank in he probably felt ashamed. He spent a whole night reflecting on his own greed, lasciviousness, envy, sloth, pride, resentment and other destructive passions that he later referred to as the hand-maidens of Death. He saw their reality, which, symbolically, is that he turned them into celestial flowers. Thus he saw the cycles of the mind, how our very refusal to look at ourselves honestly creates the necessity to invent all manner of self-stories that enslave one. Then, with the dawn, he saw the morning star rise, a beautiful phenomenon that shed its light as a sheer gift even on someone like himself and thus he knew that he was enlightened and all beings are enlightened even without knowing it. We are enlightened in that light of love and beauty shines upon us however wretched we may be, but mostly we do not see it because our spiritual eyes are closed and they are closed so that we do not see ourselves as we actually are.
Thus he saw that it is possible to cut straight through all the false stories and simply live life. Doing so he felt a great compassion for all those who were trapped as he had been in patterns of conceit and self-deception that issue as contorted thoughts, destructive actions and wasted lives. He did not have this compassion because he had learnt that it was the right way to behave, he had it because it arose naturally from living his life without complicated self-justifying stories. Thereafter his love flowed outward toward others all of its own accord. 'After that he was never alone' as it says in the Denkoroku - meaning that he was ever ministering in some way to somebody. He did not get 'burnt out' or suffer 'compassion fatigue' because his love was then genuine, not just part of another self-serving story.
I used to work in social work and many of the people I worked with were doing all manner of compassionate acts, but behind their actions one often found a hatred for the people that they saw as social oppressors. They had not faced their own dimensions of hate and so could not live life in a totally honest way and so their love could not issue forth cleanly. The self-hate buried in their efforts frequently led them to burn out. Buddha, after his big realization, gives us an example of somebody who was able to go on and on precisely because he was free from self-love and self-hate. By realizing the wholeness of things he did not need his old story any more. His perfect world was the reality right in front of him, just as Sujata's had been when she saw him in the gutter and had been moved to pity. His love had been liberated by hers. His whole life became meaningful.
David Brazier wrote:
We each have a life. We each perforce must do something. Even if one is a housebound invalid one's mode of life can be loving or bitter. Even if it is bitter, behind that bitterness somewhere is a reservoir of love. All sages have taught from their own experience: liberate the reservoir of love! Worship it! Let gratitude for it over-flow your being. Don't worry that it might run dry, it won't. It is fed by a "source inexhaustible" that has nothing to do with you. That's the message. Actually, it helps enormously to realize that the source is not oneself: that in and of ourselves we are just weak vulnerable creatures, dependently originated, full of crap, but through us can flow the most amazing grace if we are willing. To become so we need to clarify the truth about ourselves.
After reading that chapter containing the above quotes, something kind of clicked in my head, something I've known a long time but never quite "grokked". Not sure about you, but I genuinely like people, even people I don't "like", or have a reason to "hate". In the past, helping people has taken me out of my own head and always helped me to feel a bit more at peace. I've helped plenty of people who've screwed me over, even after they've screwed me over, and I'm good with that. Plus I'm a family man, I only want what's best for my family, even if it means I've gotta give up sleep or my own comforts. As a result, the whole "bodhisattva" ideal, the aspiration for "bodhicitta", and wanting to help others has always resonated with me.
Meanwhile, I'm routinely destroying myself whether it's physically or emotionally. Slipping, falling, wallowing, unable to get up. My motivation, exercise, and practice routines all completely go out the window (usually periodically). The thing that finally clicked after reading that was a quote from the Dalai Lama about how we need to worry about improving ourselves before really trying to help others. I kept thinking of the metta meditation and how the first step is compassion for oneself. At first both ideas sounded somewhat selfish, an excuse not to help others. But then it dawned on me "how am I supposed to help anyone else if I can't stop my own free fall?" ... Apparently it finally sunk in, the first sentient being we need to save before truly embarking on the path of the bodhisattva to liberate others - is ourselves. Something about that thought separates the me that aspires to help others from the me that wants to wallow in misery and gets the former to take pity on the later. For the first time in a long, long while, the urge for self-destruction seems to have quieted down.