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Published on August 26, 2020

How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself And Get Back Up

How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself And Get Back Up

Everyone reading this has felt self-pity at some point in their lives. As it is with life, not everything will go according to your plans. You tend to make mistakes and fail. Then, how does this make you feel? You feel crushed, defeated, and slowly, you start feeling sorry for yourself. Through absolutely no fault of ours, things just simply don’t go as well as you hoped it would.

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates the victim from reality.” ― John Gardner

This is all normal. It does feel terrible when you’re stuck in this state for far too long.

However, the situation becomes dangerous when you feel sorry for yourself so much that it becomes a part of you. The first stage of getting better is recognizing that you are addicted to feeling this way.

This guide aims to help you get back up by giving you all the tips you may need to fight such an overwhelming feeling.

Feeling Sorry for Yourself: Knowing When to Stop

“It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished, Mrs. Miracle.” ― Debbie Macomber

Is it wrong to feel sorry for yourself?

The answer is no. It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself because it’s a natural human emotion. It becomes wrong when it starts to consume you too much, to the extent that you are throwing big pity parties now and again. After all, when you experience it, there is a lot of exaggeration involved.

You amplify your misfortune more than it actually is. A deep sense of helplessness and hopelessness engulfs the fabric of your being. The feeling may also be accompanied by the belief that no one understands you, that you are not appreciated despite how much you work hard for yourself and the people you love.

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You may even start thinking that you will never get anything useful out of your life anymore. This self-destructive way of thinking can push you to go out into the world in search of attention and pity. However, not many people would notice it as they are also consumed by their own thoughts, feelings, and problems.

People are out there, dealing with their baggage of issues as well, and that’s just the reality. You have to work on getting out of the black hole yourself. Feeling entitled or victimized — as if things are much better for everyone else except you — will get you nowhere.

Better yet, turn your emotions into something positive. Use it to produce radiant energy that works for you in more ways than one. The pity party will continue to be unsatisfying, leaving a void that you can probably never fill. But it can also be the start of some much-needed introspection.

You can convert your self-pity into zealousness to grow and challenge yourself instead of wasting valuable time by being unproductive.

7 Steps to Help You Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have,” — Dale Carnegie

Feeling sorry for yourself has massive secondary gain. When you’re engrossed with self-pity, you feel a bit of dopamine rush as you feel good at the moment. You feel free to complain and moan and sigh as loud as you want.

Nevertheless, it only lasts for a short while. You will realize that it is never enough, and that’s when you begin to get addicted to the feeling.

Here are a few tips on how to express your emotion through the right channels.

1. Concentrate on Your Breathing

When you feel the ugly thoughts of self-pity creeping in, try to calm your mind and body. This way, you can think clearly and become more level-headed.

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How can you do this easily? Sit down and close your eyes. Then, breathe deeply through your nose, hold it in for a few seconds. and let it out slowly.

Don’t let any other thought come in at this point. Focus only on the air that goes in and out of your lungs. To avoid finishing the exercise too late or too early, you can set a two-minute timer on your smartphone.

Taking deep breaths may seem insignificant, but it is instrumental in relaxing the mind. Deep breaths enhance our ability to memorize, concentrate, and focus. That burst of oxygen going to your brain will help you achieve the clarity you need at that point in time. So, instead of letting doubts take over your entire being, spending less than five minutes to breathe deeply will bring a sense of calmness in your system.

2. Tap Into the Feeling of Gratitude

The truth is, no matter how bad the situation is, someone is having a more terrible time somewhere. Yeah, it sucks to picture someone else’s misfortune, but when you’re about to be overrun with self-pity, ask yourself an important question first. Is there someone out there who has it worse than me?

By doing so, you are giving yourself the liberty to see things from a broader perspective. You’re not just focusing on your terrible situation and thinking about yourself alone anymore. Now, follow up this question with three things you are grateful for. There are some things that you probably take for granted in your daily life, but they are crucial to your existence.

They don’t have to be something so grand. You may feel grateful for having a roof over your head, for instance. Millions of people don’t even have that bare minimum. You may also be happy about having three square meals and clean water every day. Thinking of such things is enough to stop feeling sorry for yourself.

3. Embrace Optimism

How about looking at your situation as one more lesson in life? It helps to be more constructive about your predicament. For example, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself because you just lost a promotion spot for the third time, look for the optimistic side of this. Ask the relevant questions: Why does my dream position keep slipping away? How can I get it right?

Yes, you are allowed to feel upset for losing something so important to your career, but think about how fulfilling it would be to finally get it. Picture yourself in that new post and how you can feel more proud of it when you succeed against all the odds.

A dash of optimism is perhaps all you need to discover the hidden errors denying you of something you want badly and give you the strength to try again.[1] Look at those moments of failure as an opportunity to learn a game-changing lesson rather than as a door into self-pity land.

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4. Embrace the Emotion

Remember that it’s perfectly normal to feel sorry for yourself. You are human, and it’s all part of our psyche. So, don’t waste your energy in fighting it. Be okay with that moment of weakness in which you see everything through a negative lens.

However, set a deadline. Giving yourself a short time to embrace the emotion allows you to thoroughly process what has happened. This situation may have caused shock, a flurry of thoughts, or intense emotion, but take it all in now. We are all familiar with some cases wherein we have tried to push away feelings to make ourselves believe that we have the strength to carry on as if nothing happened. How did that turn out? Most times, it never ended well.

Pushing emotions aside can make them pop up at unexpected times when you’re not ready to deal with them. It’s quite common to see people conceal their emotions because they don’t want to appear weak. Still, denying your experiences will not erase them.

You become a warrior by facing those painful experiences and moving on bravely. Feel free to cry a river, but when you’re done, build a bridge over it. Even if it is only ten minutes, savor that moment and then dust yourself up as you focus towards moving forward again.

5. Lend Someone a Helping Hand

One keyword in self-pity is “self.” When you feel it, you are focusing on a single person: you. Have you ever thought of directing all that attention to someone else? Focus on adding value to another individual. Whether it is a close friend or a random stranger, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you have that moment of respite to proffer solution to someone else’s problem or just lend a listening ear. It will get you out of your head, and you have the extra perk of feeling good when you genuinely help others. It’s certainly amazing to see someone’s face light up and know that it’s because of you.

So, this action doesn’t have to be grand. You can help out by assisting someone with moving or giving valuable advice for a crucial decision. Alternatively, you can simply listen while they vent. Kindness works wonders, and it may help you stop feeling sorry for yourself.

6. Take A Social Media Hiatus

We’re all familiar with the pressures that come with social media. On these platforms, everyone is focused on giving the illusion of a perfect life. The happy faces, countless vacation pictures, and flawless family photos could be a significant contributor to your self-pitying habits.

A lot of people start feeling sorry for themselves when they believe that everyone else around them is doing so much better than them. At this point, taking a break from social media is beneficial. You see only what people want you to see, and you don’t need someone’s fake life belittling what you have achieved on your own.

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A social media hiatus allows you to dedicate some time to yourself.[2] Engage in other activities to make up for it instead. You can try watching movies, reading a few books, hanging out more with your loved ones, or taking up an exciting hobby. It’s all up to you.

7. Set Realistic Daily Goals

Your attitude makes a whole world of difference. When you feel like you don’t have enough power to change a situation due to your terrible mental state, try to break it down. A task looks insurmountable until you break it into bite-sized chunks. It’s the same with your personal goals.[3]

Take some “me” time and reflect on what you want to change about yourself. Think about how you can improve your situation. Why are you feeling sorry for yourself anyway? Say, it may be because you believe that everyone at your office hates you.

Then, sit down and get your pen. Why do you believe that they don’t like you? What flaws do you have that are possibly contributing to this? It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to brainstorm the little steps you can take to change this, especially if you plan one change per day.

The change can be as simple as smiling more, using daily words of encouragement, and being more proactive in your decision-making process. No matter how little it seems, it will make a massive difference in the long run. One day, you’ll wake up thinking that you have become a completely different person.

Nonetheless, it is a never-ending process that only looks easy because you have broken it down. With this, you will feel empowered and confident enough to see your life in a better light.

Final Thoughts

Stopping yourself from self-pitying is not an impossible task. Get started with the simple techniques above and overcome negativity successfully. All it takes is that determination and the right amount of energy to make this work. You can do this.

More on Dealing With Negative Emotions

Featured photo credit: Chad Madden via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jacqueline T. Hill

Writing, Blogging, and Educating To Guide Others Into Happiness

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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