New theory: I have a tape recorder in the back of my head playing my personal mix tape of Greatest Hits of Verbal Self Abuse. I think I constructed this system in high school when I started running 3 miles, 3 nights a week to lose weight to date girls. It motivated the hell out of me. I beat myself mercilessly with a wide array of creative self loathing. By any objective measure, my physical transformation was a great success. Unfortunately I never felt good about any gains I made because I was too busy hating the way I looked, and by extension hating myself, no matter what.
Over the last 18 years I don't think I've consciously recognized that the tape recorder is still back there. Still looping. Now I'm practicing recognizing it. And hitting the off button.
Maybe I can make a new tape. It will have some positive things to say about me. :)