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Consult a counselor to help you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Simply click here to connect with one via BetterHelp.com.
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.
Looking for ways that you can make a positive impact on your situation gives you back a sense of control that you might have lost when the thing that is causing you pain first happened.
It will feel empowering to take life into your own hands and engage your problem-solving skills. It’s hard to pity yourself when you’re energized and empowered to do something to improve your circumstances.
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.
9. Do something for someone else.
When you feel sorry for yourself, you are absorbed entirely in your situation or problem.
You can interrupt those self-centered thoughts by simply turning your attention outward to someone else.
If you can keep yourself and your mind busy by doing altruistic deeds, you’ll soon forget about whatever it is that has gone wrong in your life.
Of course, helping someone else is more than mere distraction. By being of service to others, your brain will produce feel-good chemicals and give you what’s known as a “helper’s high.” In essence, you will feel satisfaction and mild euphoria when you do something kind for another person (or animal, or society in general if you wish to help in those ways).
This two-pronged benefit of distraction and the biological response to giving should help turn your mind to turn to more positive thoughts.
To ensure that this approach is effective, you should avoid martyring yourself in the name of charity. If you genuinely don’t have the time to help out, wait until you do. Running yourself into the ground won’t do you any good at all.
10. Adopt a flexible mindset with regards to change.
Change is the one great constant in life. But how you react to change can greatly influence how you feel about yourself and your life.
When you feel sorry for yourself, chances are that you are generally quite resistant to change. You feel anxious or stressed whenever something stable suddenly becomes less so.
When you realize that you can’t hold back the change or go back to how things were before, you feel down. And to some extent, that is natural. Stability in life takes some mental load off and makes life that bit easier. So when things change, it’s okay to feel worried about what that change might mean to you.
That said, with patience and work, you can nurture a more flexible and accepting mindset when it comes to change. You might still feel somewhat apprehensive, but you will also learn to roll with the punches and understand that change doesn’t have to be bad. It can just as easily be a good thing for you.
11. Work on your ‘self.’
This is a longer term strategy to quit feeling sorry for yourself, but it is very effective.
You see, a person who often feels sorry for themselves will likely have a poor opinion of who they are and what they deserve. They feel prolonged pity for themselves and their misfortune because they don’t feel they are worthy of better outcomes.
They identify as a victim when bad things befall them because they have low self-worth. In fact, they use those bad things as proof that they don’t deserve better.
They also suffer from low self-belief which means they struggle to see a way for them to fix or improve the situation.
So to avoid throwing a pity party in the future, you should do things that improve your self-worth and your self-belief. This will also mean working on your self-esteem because you need to like yourself to even begin to want to work on the rest of you.
If you have to identify as anything, make it a ‘survivor’ rather than a ‘victim’ because this gives a more positive view of who you are and what you’re capable of.
You should also practice regular self-care because you’ll feel a lot better about yourself when you are rested, relaxed, and have experienced moments of joy, no matter how fleeting.
We’ve already mentioned exercise, but your diet is also very important. You should also drink lots of water and carve out regular “me time” in which you forget about your problems for a little while.
12. Speak to a counselor.
A number of the suggestions so far might well require you to speak to a trained and experienced mental health professional.
That’s not to say that you can’t work on these things by yourself with or without the aid of self-help literature. But you’ll be able to move a lot faster and resolve more of your inner gremlins with the guidance of someone who is trained to help people like you.
Counseling isn’t something that you only go to if you have experienced major trauma. In fact, most people could benefit from speaking to someone with whom they can address specific issues they may be facing.
And if you are feeling sorry for yourself – and regularly feel sorry for yourself – you are certainly someone who could gain a great deal from counseling.
That may be something you pursue in the short term to work on this issue, or it might be something you do on a regular basis to improve the quality of your thoughts and life in the longer term.
Click here if you’d like to connect with a counselor and work on these issues.
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