Self-pity is one of the most powerful ways to undermine your happiness and progress in life.
There will be times where things just don’t go right or how you planned. Sometimes they will blow up in your face or do damage that you weren’t expecting – relationships end, jobs get terminated, friendships fall apart.
All of these things are a normal and expected part of life.
Learning to survive and overcome them is not so normal. In fact, many people mishandle these events because of their emotional investment in the outcome.
You see, it hurts. It hurts a lot to lose a job you enjoyed, a person you value, or have a drastic change in life circumstances. It’s painful to be rejected.
But self-pity doesn’t do anything to improve these situations. In fact, it’s throwing away valuable emotional and mental energy, like throwing your cash on a bonfire. Sure, it keeps the fire burning, but for what purpose, and at what cost?
So, with this in mind, how do you stop feeling sorry for yourself?
1. Give yourself an appropriate amount of time to mourn.
Losing things in life is painful. It’s okay to feel hurt, angry, and sad about the situation. That’s healthy.
What’s not healthy is to dwell and ruminate on it for longer than you need to.
By all means, give yourself some time to feel your emotions, but don’t build a house and live there. Don’t spend your entire waking existence ruminating on the negative emotions.
If you find those emotions are intruding, you have to be the one to decide you’re not going to let that happen, take control of those emotions, and shift them someplace else.
2. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
It’s pretty difficult to feel both self-pity and gratitude at the same time, and you can use this to your advantage.
You may be able to look at a situation and find gratitude for things that happened within its context.
Like, if you lose a job, you may have made some lifetime friends there. You can appreciate having had that job for the experience it gave you and the friends you gained during your time there.
You may also look for gratitude in other areas of your life to stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Like, you lost a job, but your health is doing well, and everyone in your family is doing well.
But listen, sometimes there is no silver lining in tragedy. That’s okay too. You don’t have to be grateful or look for a silver lining in something absolutely awful. That’s toxic positivity, and it’s not healthy either.
3. Monitor and shift your emotional perceptions.
The emotions that we’re feeling often color the way we perceive an event. You’re more likely to perceive a neutral event – or even a positive event – negatively if you feel negative.
However, it would be unusual to perceive a negative event as a positive while you’re feeling positive. Sometimes, negative events are exactly that – negative.
But suppose you can keep your attitude positive and optimistic. In that case, it can soften the blow of the events that might otherwise send you into a spiral of negativity and self-pity. You will still feel them, but they will have less of a negative impact on your mindset.
4. Channel that energy into finding solutions.
The time you spend swimming in self-pity is time you could have spent looking for a solution or building something better.
Don’t waste that valuable time on fruitless activities. The less time you waste, the better off you will be. You only get 24 hours a day. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.
So once you’ve sat with the problem and its related emotions for a short while, try to figure out what you might do to make the problem go away or ease the practical and emotional burden of it.
Even if all you can do right now is something small, do that thing. Take one step in the direction of a solution and you will feel a lot better about yourself and your situation.
5. Surround yourself with the right people.
Misery loves company. Miserable people love to be around other miserable people because they throw their misery into one another and have a companion to wallow with.
The people you spend time around will have a drastic effect on the way you perceive and handle your life.
It’s tough to stay positive or neutral when the people around you are throwing constant negativity on you, talking down your accomplishments, or telling you that you deserved whatever happened.
Similarly, when you spend time with positive people who support you and care for you, it’s easier to see a way past a tricky situation. They not only offer possible actions you can take; they empower you to take them.
Limit your time with negative people as you work through your problems.
6. Keep your problems out of the social arena.
People love to blast their problems out across social media and other internet channels.
Don’t do that.
What you end up with is a bunch of people who don’t know your life or situation commenting on it.
They don’t know the whole situation. They don’t know the details that you know. They don’t know what’s the truth and what’s not.
And what can be worse is if no one comments on it at all. You post up something that felt terrible to you. No one bothers to acknowledge it at all, which may just be the social media algorithm not showing your post or people genuinely ignoring it.
If you need to talk to someone, make sure it’s a trusted friend, counselor, or supportive setting.
Don’t make those issues public because you may end up saying something that you can’t take back in a moment of emotional vulnerability.
7. Get out and exercise.
Self-pity is intertwined with many other negative emotions and sometimes depression. One of the best ways to combat it is to get out and exercise.
It’s well known that exercise is a great way to combat negative feelings and depression because it produces many other positive and healthy chemicals in your body.
Your body needs to exercise, be in the sun, and be moving. Feeling sorry for yourself is usually counterproductive to that. We’ve all wanted to crawl into bed with some snacks and Netflix to ignore the world and feel like trash for a while.
And you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. Not all the time, though. Get out and move!
8. Replace the language of self-pity with self-love.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I always fail.”
“No one loves me.”
All of these phrases and more are the language of self-pity. They are the fertilizer that feeds negativity and allows it to grow inside of you.
These phrases need to be replaced with messages of self-love and affirmation. That you are worthy, you are good enough, you are lovable, you are worthwhile.
But what if you feel unworthy?
Then you have to ask yourself, why do you feel unworthy? Was it a seed that someone else planted in you? Was it your parents being unkind to you? Was it a previous romantic partner trying to tear you down?
Where did those thoughts and feelings actually originate from? And why is that opinion valid?
Things don’t work out for people regularly. That doesn’t make them a bad person.
Sometimes relationships end because you’re just on two entirely different pages. Perhaps you had a high degree of compatibility but wanted different things out of life. Perhaps they weren’t as good of a person as you thought they were.
Sometimes you lose your job because of the wider economic situation. Perhaps you were highly accomplished and respected in your job, but poor management led to it no longer being commercially viable.
Other people should not have the right to determine your worthiness. They aren’t living your life. And chances are pretty good that if they are taking the time to tear you down, they aren’t the people you want to be listening to anyway. Emotionally healthy people do not spend their time tearing other people down, especially not people they claim to love.
Don’t use the words of anyone else as a weapon against yourself. They’re probably not worth listening to. So refuse to listen to them, and refuse to feel sorry for yourself in the process.
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- Why Do I Hate Myself So Much? How Can I Stop These Feelings?