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Feeling sorry for yourself can be a slippery slope.
After all, there are always at least a few reasons why life really sucks for you at any given moment.
Everything that could go wrong is. Nothing seems to be going your way. You can’t seem to catch a break.
Sometimes you wonder what the point is in even trying. It’s not like anything is going to work out for you.
The longer you sit and stew over your problems and situation, the larger, bigger, and more hopeless it all seems.
If you’ve ever fallen down the rabbit hole of self-pity before, you know how hard it can be to pull yourself back up and out of that negative mindset.
But before we delve into some tips for overcoming self-pity, let’s look at the difference between sadness and self-pity.
What’s The Difference Between Sadness and Self-Pity?
You’ve suffered a huge disappointment or the devastating loss of a loved one or the heartbreaking end of a romantic relationship. It’s only normal for you to feel sad.
Perhaps you’ll even retreat, lick your wounds, and mourn in private (and even in public). Feeling sad or grieving is a natural response to the pain we feel towards a negative situation.
What wouldn’t be normal is for you to immediately bounce back from a tragic circumstance as if nothing had happened. You’re not supposed to feel happy when you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for. The emotion you feel when your relationship ends is not usually joy. When a loved one dies, the last thing you want to do is smile or laugh or feel joy.
Sorrow, disappointment, and grief are not bad emotions. They are normal responses when something bad happens.
Self-pity, though, is the rejection of a fundamental truth of life, which is that bad things happen to everyone. We are not exempt from bad experiences, no matter how good we are.
When you think that you’re the only person to whom bad things happen, you’re slipping into self-pity.
If you are so focused on your problems, loss, disappointment, and unhappiness that you feel as though you don’t have the power to overcome your troubles, you’ve gone from being merely sad or depressed into self-pity.
You feel as if no matter what you do, it’s all useless. So you refuse to do anything to help the situation or to get out of your rut. Everything is out of your control. No matter what you try, nothing will change.
Self-pity is a mindset that focuses on the negative aspects of life to the exclusion of any good, while sadness, grief, disappointment are simply emotions.
12 Tips To Stop Wallowing In Self-Pity
If you’ve realized that you’ve unwittingly embraced the negative mindset of self-pity, here are 11 tips you can use to stop wallowing in that place.
1. Don’t push your emotions aside.
Have you ever noticed how society seems to hate anything relating to true emotion when it’s not happiness? We’re taught to “toughen up” when we cry or “keep a stiff upper lip” when something is hurting us.
This behavior is taught to us from childhood when boys are scolded for crying when they are hurt. While it may seem as though women are encouraged to express their feelings, imagine how difficult it is to express them when faced with a condescending response of “you’re being too emotional.”
We don’t know how to process our emotions because we so often have to put on a brave face and pretend we’re ok. Anytime we’re sad, we push those feelings aside because they’re uncomfortable and put on our happy faces.
The thing with emotions is, if you don’t deal with them now, you’ll certainly deal with them later. Denying your experiences will not erase them or make them easier to handle. Ignoring your feelings will only cause them to spill over into other areas of your life.
Instead of pushing your emotions aside, sit with them. Process how you’re feeling. Be aware of your emotions. Come to terms with the part you played in the situation and forgive yourself for any mistake you may have committed.
Don’t take this as approval to attend a never-ending pity party. Set a time limit to it. Feel as sad as you want to feel during this period. Once the buzzer sounds to signal the end of your pity party, wipe your tears away, pick yourself up, and start the process of moving on.
When it comes to grieving, however, please understand that healing from the pain of losing a loved one is a long, complicated process. It is not something you can process in a single session. Don’t put yourself under pressure to do so.
2. Refuse to be a victim.
The victim mentality is a tricky mindset; one that’s hard to recognize because of the sneaky way it creeps up on you.
For example, if someone were to ask you if you operate from a mindset of victimhood, you’re likely to say no. But do you feel as if your life is out of your control? Or do you believe you are powerless to change the trajectory of your life? Is your life the result/fault of someone or something other than yourself?
These are all fundamental beliefs of someone who has embraced the victim mentality. A perpetual victim blames someone or something else for the way they feel or the circumstances of their life, instead of taking responsibility for their life.
Get rid of this mentality because it is impossible to be in the driver’s seat of your life while still playing the victim card.
Take back control of your life.
Even if you are right and the circumstances of your life are entirely the fault of someone or something else, the responsibility to change your situation lies with you. Take concrete steps to change what you don’t like about your life. No one is going to show up to save you. Choose to show up for yourself. Be the knight in shining armor that you’re hoping for.
3. Evaluate your perception.
Sometimes our perception can be totally off. We can read a room or situation or person incorrectly. And that is because we’re filtering the information we receive through our very limited life experience.
How many times have we made assumptions about someone only to find out we were wrong in our assessment?
Even if all the evidence seems to point in a particular direction, there is always a chance that your perception is wrong. Give people the benefit of doubt. Assume there is more to the story before jumping to a conclusion.
Evaluate your perception, no matter how “right” it seems. Even in a court of law, new evidence comes up all the time overturning a previous conviction. Do you really want to be the person who judges someone wrongly?
4. Focus on the good.
Although your life may seem like an utter dumpster fire right now, it is not.
Do you know the amount of bad luck you would need to have for everything to be going wrong at the same time? A lot.
No matter how bad it looks, there is always something to be grateful for.
Gratitude is the conscious acknowledgment of what brings you joy in the present moment.
As you start or end each day, write a list of 5 to 10 things that bring you joy. Your list can include simple pleasures like a cup of coffee or the scent of fresh flowers coming in through your window. It could be a list of your strengths and accomplishments. You could include the people in your life that you’re grateful for. But pick different things to put on your list every day.
As you practice being grateful each day, the negative default mindset that you operate from will change to a positive one. Not only that, but the more you’re grateful for, the more you’ll see to be grateful for.
Another good thing about practicing gratitude is that it’s impossible to feel pity and gratitude at the same time. They can’t co-exist.
5. Spend time with the less fortunate.
Nothing puts your life and your struggles in perspective more than witnessing people who are making the best out of horrible situations.
It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you see someone who is battling a terminal disease. When you see parents who go hungry while ensuring their children have food to eat every day, it’s hard to complain about your own meager problems.
Spending time with people who are facing enormous challenges helps you more easily see your blessings. When you see how they choose to face their challenges with grace and a cheerful attitude, to be honest, you’ll probably end up feeling a little ashamed about how much in your life you’ve taken for granted.
Life may not be going your way right now, but you have so many things to be grateful for.
6. Stop complaining.
Complaining doesn’t help you accomplish anything. It doesn’t solve the problem, nor does it make you feel better. If you do it often it enough, it’ll annoy the people around you.
Instead of wasting time and energy on a completely useless activity, why not take action to either accept the situations you cannot change or make things better?
All complaining does is focus your mind on things that you’re not happy about. That’s not good for your mental health, it’s not good for your self-confidence.
If you cannot change the situation, talking about it won’t do anything for you but make you feel powerless. If you can change the situation, talking about it will prevent you from taking action to change it.
We spend hours complaining about our politicians, the economy, our bosses, and even our spouses. Rarely do we discuss solutions to the problems we highlight. Very few people take steps towards actually resolving what they’re complaining about.
Stop complaining and start changing what you’re complaining about. The world and your community need more people who will step up to be change-makers.
7. Set realistic goals.
Sometimes, when we’re not actively working towards a goal, we can feel restless and uncomfortable; almost as if we function best when we’re striving towards a target.
To be fair, little else compares to the sense of accomplishment you feel when you hit a goal that took you outside of your comfort zone. The day you reach the goal you did not think you had the resources, money, or ability to reach is a day where your self-confidence and self-worth shoot up through the roof.
The memory of that alone is enough motivation to strive harder, making it easier to accomplish new goals.
So dig deep, think of your past accomplishments. Think about the goals you’ve smashed. Remember the sense of pride you felt when you hit that milestone and use it as motivation to set new goals for yourself.
Set realistic goals that push you out of your comfort zone using the S.M.A.R.T technique:
S – Specific
The goal must be clear and unambiguous. For example, “I want to get fit” is not specific because “fit” could mean any number of things. However, “I want to lose 5 pounds” is a good example of a specific goal.
M – Measurable
Your goal should include criteria for measuring progress or steps that will take you towards your target. I will reduce my calorie consumption by 500 every day and work out 3 – 4 days a week for 30 minutes is a good example of measurable steps.
A – Achievable
The goal must be achievable with the resources at your disposal. Your goal should stretch you but not so much that you cannot meet it. For example, it might be possible to lose 5 pounds in a week but only with a very strict diet and brutal workout schedule. So, a preferable goal would be to lose 5 pounds in a month.
R – Realistic
Do you believe you can attain your goal? Even if it requires some planning of time or resources, is it something that you can eventually accomplish? Or would it require a miracle and factors outside of your control to do?
T – Time Bound
It must have a start and end time. If your goal is not bound by time, you will not have a sense of urgency to work towards it. You’ll be inclined to put it off.
By following these steps you’ll have well thought out goals that you’ll be able to achieve with discipline and focus.
8. Look for the silver lining.
Do you know that old saying about a silver lining in every dark cloud? Well, for the most part, it’s true. It’s just that many times the silver lining is hiding and difficult to find. But if you search long enough, you’ll eventually find it in the dark cloud that’s hanging over you right now.
Maybe your challenges are making you stronger or more empathetic, or a better boss for when you eventually become one. Whatever it is, there’s a lesson to be learned in the challenge you’re facing. That lesson will help you to become a better version of yourself.
Would it be nice to learn these lessons without the pain you are experiencing? Of course. Unfortunately, some lessons come as a result of dark times. Some destinies are borne in the middle of turmoil.
Identify the lesson lying in your challenge.
9. Don’t be idle or lazy.
An idle mind really is the devil’s playground. Have you noticed how when you’re busy doing something, particularly when it’s meaningful work, you don’t have time to think about how pitiful your situation is? There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself because you’ve got something to do or somewhere to be.
When you have too much free time on your hands, that’s time you’ll often spend feeling sorry for yourself.
Get busy doing something you love. Focus on your work, at least you’ll make money from that. Work on building up your relationships.
Use the energy you’re spending on self-pity to work on bettering your life. Imagine what you could accomplish if you spent time and effort working on the areas of your life you are not happy with. You could probably build something you’d be proud of.
10. Stop with the “Why Me’s”
Sometimes life is hard, with no reason or justification. “Why me?” or “why is this happening to me?” are two questions you will probably never get the answers to.
You’re better off asking questions like “what do I do now?” or “how do I get out of this situation?” Those questions will lead you to answers that will move your life forward.
Besides, if not you, then who? If you don’t ‘deserve’ the bad circumstance that you’re in, then who does?
Life is not always fair. Hardship is inevitable. Bad things happen to everyone. That’s just how the world works. We need to make our peace with that.
All we can do is live our lives to the fullest and love with all of our hearts. Bad things will happen. That’s life. But good things will also happen. Appreciate and enjoy that good in life.
Before the bad comes, build a support system that will help you pick yourself back up when it hits.
11. Start with positivity.
Start your day with positive affirmations or news or something that puts you in a positive frame of mind.
We are inundated with news of doom and gloom every day. A lot of things are going wrong in the world right now. There is legitimate reason to be worried about the future.
But there’s also a lot of good happening in the world. Unfortunately, it’s bad news that sells the fastest and because news stations are fighting to grab our attention, that is the type of news they focus on.
Start your day with news that encourages you or rebuilds your faith in humanity. Recite positive affirmations that will pump you up to have a good day.
Look for the good that is happening around you. You’d be surprised by how much of it is still happening amid this chaotic world we live in. In the middle of war, famine, and disease, there are still people doing good. Start your day looking at the good.
12. Address any underlying issues you may have.
People who wallow in self-pity are usually the ones suffering from low self-esteem. They may even be a little bit narcissistic, thinking they are entitled to the best things and nothing less in life.
Self-pity may actually be a symptom of a greater issue. According to Psych Central, self-pity is a secondary symptom of depression.
If you’ve been battling with self-pity for a prolonged period and have been unable to shake it despite your best efforts, it might be time for you to enlist the help of a professional. They will be able to test to see if you’re suffering from a mental illness from which self-pity is a symptom.
The sooner you do this, the faster you get a solution to what is troubling you. Don’t allow shame to stop you from getting the help you need.
A good place to get professional help is the website BetterHelp.com – here, you’ll be able to connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
Everyone feels sorry for themselves every so often. We get overwhelmed by the challenges that we face, and it can all be too much.
While it’s okay to acknowledge and process your feelings, don’t stay in a place where you think you’re the only person who has problems. That mindset will not empower you to find a solution. It will keep you thinking that you’re a perpetual victim.
As much as you might not want to initially, stop focusing on what’s wrong in your life. Focus on the good. Think about finding solutions. Look at the good that surrounds you. And find the strength to pick yourself up from the pit of self-pity.
You may also like:
- How To Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself: 12 Highly Effective Tips
- How To Accept What Is (Without Surrendering Your Power): 10 Tips
- 4 Reasons Why Bad Things Keep Happening To You (+ 7 Ways To Cope)
- 11 Highly Effective Ways To Change Your Thinking
- What To Do When You Hate Yourself: No Bullsh*t Advice
- How To Stop Feeling Like A Failure: 12 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 10 Harmful Effects Of Bottling Up Your Emotions (+ How To Stop)