You’ve probably moped around feeling sorry for yourself before. There are ways to stop this and cultivate a more positive attitude.
Yes, I am familiar with self-pity, and I bet you are too. But feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t get you far in life. It robs you of the time you can use to be productive and change things. No, the world isn’t fair, and bad things happen sometimes, but mulling around in self-negativity doesn’t help.
‘Why am I feeling sorry for myself?’ The causes of self-pity
First of all, you need to find why you feel sorry for yourself. Without getting to the root of your feelings, it’s impossible to overcome them. Here are a few possible explanations:
The most obvious reason for self-pity is feeling like a failure. For example, you could be facing obstacles in your career that are blocking the way to reaching your life goals. Maybe your relationship or marriage has failed and you don’t know what to do.
There could be numerous reasons why you might be feeling like a failure. When hardships happen, it’s not easy to get up and work towards the solution. Most people lose their motivation and give up too easily, which leaves them feeling sorry for themselves.
2. Self-esteem issues
Self-pity often stems from low self-esteem and a distorted sense of self. You could have self-esteem issues coming from a troubled childhood or parenting mistakes that make you diminish your own worth. For example, imposter syndrome makes people underestimate their achievements and feel like a fake.
Are you too hard on yourself? Is your inner critic constantly telling you that you are not good enough? Negative self-talk and being an overly critical person can be the reasons why you are feeling sorry for yourself. And most importantly, all these negative thoughts about yourself sabotage your growth and progress in life.
3. Mental illness
Mental disorders like anxiety and depression tell you many lies about yourself. These mental states often leave you feeling worthless and ruminating about your past mistakes and failures.
You can suddenly find yourself believing that you are a terrible spouse, parent or professional. And you beat yourself up for that, overthinking a problem that most likely exists only in your mind.
Similarly, you may start dwelling on a situation that happened long ago but still makes you feel bad about yourself. You may believe that you did a terrible mistake or an unethical choice. Or you could simply be ashamed of your past self and your behaviors back then.
Anxiety and depression can act as confidence killers and distort your perception of yourself. They often make you feel bad about and sorry for yourself.
4. Comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate
When you have the toxic habit of comparing yourself to others, you are most likely to focus on the negative. You tend to notice people who are more successful, attractive or capable than you. “He has his own law company already and I’m still working here as an office assistant” or “She married in her twenties and I’m still single”.
Of course, as a result of such thoughts, you end up feeling inadequate and totally incapable. It may feel like everyone else is succeeding in life while you stay behind. This leads to resentment and self-pity. Thus, you start feeling sorry for yourself and it may seem like your whole life is a joke.
5. Trauma or abuse
Trauma and abuse survivors often come out of these toxic situations burdened with self-esteem and mental health issues. A narcissist or any other skillful type of manipulator can easily make you feel bad about yourself without adequate reason.
Abusers use sneaky tools of manipulation such as gaslighting that can leave anyone questioning their worth and sanity. Even if you have survived abuse or any other kind of trauma, such an experience leaves lifetime marks on your soul.
Moreover, many victims blame themselves for what happened to them. Do you believe that you are responsible for your traumatic experience? Maybe this is what explains why you are feeling sorry for yourself.
6. Victim mentality
Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might be feeling sorry for yourself because you secretly want to? Some people enjoy being miserable without being aware of it. They always want to be the victim to evoke empathy in other people and thus receive their support and care.
Could you be suffering from a victim mentality without even knowing it? If you tend to blame other people and external circumstances for all your failures, it’s time to think that you might be simply avoiding responsibilities. Do you approach every conflict in a passive-aggressive way and never even try to understand the other party? Are you always trying to find an excuse to deny your mistakes?
If you do these things, it may mean that you have this toxic mindset.
Being self-absorbed doesn’t always equal being narcissistic or selfish. Well, it is being egocentric in a way since you stay overly focused on yourself. But at the same time, self-absorption usually involves being negative towards yourself.
In fact, studies show that it is the root of many mental illnesses. And of course, self-absorption can be responsible for a whole plethora of negative emotions and ideas about yourself, including self-pity.
Also, if you are constantly occupied with analyzing your thoughts and behaviors, you forget about other people and their feelings. For this reason, a good way to fight self-absorption is to practice empathy.
How to stop feeling sorry for yourself?
Quick, take your mental temperature. Are you wallowing in self-pity? There are ways to tell if you are. If you’ve lost all passion for the things you love or talk constantly about your misfortune, you might be feeling sorry for your life and yourself. Would you like to know how to stop doing this? I thought you would.
1. Accept the pity
I know this might sound counteractive, but just listen. It is okay to feel sorry for yourself for a little while. I know I might be going a little against the title in this post, but you will understand if you read on. What’s most concerning, is staying in self-pity for too long.
So, allow yourself to feel those negative feelings, every single emotion, but then agree to let them go after a certain period of time. Just don’t hold onto negativity for too long. Letting self-pity go will help you eventually feel less and less sorry for yourself in time.
2. Help someone
Helping other people always gets us out of our own head and into the concerns of friends, family, and even some strangers. The more you get out of your head, the better the perspective on what’s happening in your life that hurts. Of course, you should tackle your problems after helping someone else. Keep those things separated.
For example: Help someone move, listen to someone else’s problems or offer to babysit. Trust me, all these things will make you stop thinking negatively about yourself so much. You will see what other people are going through. Plus, it’s just right to help others anyway.
3. Change your focus
No matter what’s happened in your life to make you feel sorry for yourself, there are many things good about you. There are things that people see in you that you may not even see in yourself. However, if you focus on things that don’t revolve around self-pity, you may be able to grow a more positive outlook.
Try focusing on what you have instead of what you don’t have. So, you might not own a house, but you rent a decent one that keeps you safe and warm. You might not have a new car, but the one you have gets you where you need to go. Change how you see things, and self-pity will fade.
4. Stop giving up, and start breaking boundaries
When I say boundaries, I don’t mean the positive ones you’ve set for you and your life. I’m talking about the limitations that people place on you in society.
If you’re trying to become a doctor, and people keep telling you that you’re not cut out for it, do you back down and accept what they say? Of course, you don’t because this makes you start feeling sorry for yourself. So, if you want to be a doctor, start climbing on the bumps of criticism that everyone keeps throwing in front of you. When you refuse to give up, pity cannot survive.
5. Stay away from the 3 P’s
There are three thought processes that keep us locked in feeling pity. These mindsets are personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence.
With personalization, we tend to think that our situation is our fault alone. We blame ourselves and dwell on what we could have done differently. With pervasiveness, we assume that a traumatic event will affect all areas of our lives, and this is not true. And permanence makes us think that bad things will last forever.
These three lies must be thrown out in order to stop feeling sorry about our situations.
6. Think about your future
Yes, it’s great to live in the present, I encourage that. The thing is, you need to take a quick look at how your future could be if you continue to feel sorry for yourself. You see, self-pity is stressful, and it can take years off your life.
So, ask yourself if what you’re feeling bad about will matter in the next 5 years. If you don’t think it will, then start to let it go before it makes you sick. Remember, mental and physical health are connected and influence each other both ways. Keep your future in sight, just a bit of it, and maybe this will help you retain hope instead of pity.
So, let’s stop feeling sorry for us
When I say us, it means I sometimes suffer from the trap of self-pity myself. So, you’re not alone. It’s not all that difficult to do, especially when your life has been a series of letdowns and traumatic events. But you see, you cannot let those things define you, and when you feel sorry for yourself, that’s what happens.
I hope this helped you do a bit of positive thinking, and most of all, I hope it gave you the strength to stand in the face of adversity. I’m working on it myself, and so we’re doing it together.
I wish you well.
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