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Last Updated on March 11, 2020

8 Ways to Let Go of Self-Pity for Good

8 Ways to Let Go of Self-Pity for Good

Life isn’t meant to be easy. It may be true, yet it’s the last thing you want to hear when in the midst of self pity.

You feel perfectly entitled to feel sorry for yourself and you wish those positive do gooders could see how awful your situation is. I totally get this. I’ve been there a few times when life has delivered unexpected doozies.

Relationships end and life becomes a struggle, or you don’t get that job you really wanted. You miss an important deadline, the stock market crashes or you lose your home. There are a multitude of things that don’t go the way we want them to and it’s natural to feel sorry for ourselves.

Here’s the thing though:

It’s okay to have the blues for a while in any one of these instances and more. In fact, I always say it’s important to feel the emotion instead of stuffing it down.

However, problems arise when we get stuck in self pity and it becomes our automatic go to in any difficult situation.

Becoming stuck in this mindset means we run the risk of never learning from our mistakes in a positive way. It also stops us from feeling empowered, finding solutions and achieving what we want in the long term.

Regularly feeling sorry for yourself over a long period of time can also lead to depression. And it can even lead to physical health issues like coronary heart disease.

Even more alarming; an article written in The Independent states that self pity can be as bad for your heart as smoking 20 cigarettes a day![1]

Contrary to much you might read about self pity, it’s not an emotion in itself; it’s a state of mind. It happens when you focus too much on your own problems and believe you are a victim of circumstance.

This mental focus leads you to feel emotions like sadness, anxiety, hurt and helplessness.

It feels good to wallow in self pity over the short term and that’s why it’s easy to fall into. But if we stay in it for too long, it becomes like a deep black pit that’s difficult to climb out of.

The good news is, there are a number of ways to change this debilitating state of mind. The sooner you nip it in the bud and get started the easier you can let go of self pity for good.

1. Give Yourself Compassion First

When something doesn’t go the way you want it to, instead of trying to grin and bear it, allow yourself to feel sad.

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We are meant to feel a whole range of different emotions. Trying to be positive in the midst of a difficult time, means you have to stuff the real emotion down. This is not good for you or good for others, because the emotions are likely to resurface at a later time.

Allow yourself to really feel what you are feeling. Be compassionate with yourself just as you would with a dear friend or loved one. Reach out to others and ask for support if you need it. And let others be there for you when they want to be.

This enables you to really connect with your emotions and feel supported. And when you do this you are less inclined to resort to feeling sorry for yourself later.

Start taking up these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

2. Become Aware of the Pain of Self Pity

There is a turning point between a healthy feeling of hurt and sadness and moving onto self pitying. And because it feels good to begin with, it’s easy to miss the turnaround.

Feeling sorry for yourself not only creates pain for you but it creates pain for others too. Not many people want to be around you if you are always down. Or they could even feel guilty for being happy around you.

It’s not long before your friends begin to avoid you, because it doesn’t feel good to be around you. Instead of seeing that as something else to feel hurt about, become aware of the pain you are creating for yourself.

No one can make you feel anything, only you control the way you feel. Become aware of the pain you are creating and make a firm decision to change it.

3. Refuse to Be a Victim

Victim mentality is quite often the cause of self pitying behavior. It’s called the drama cycle and for some reason we choose to blame someone or something else for the way we feel.

The drama cycle initially feels good, because as a victim, someone else tries to save us from our problems. This means we feel nurtured and it’s nice to know someone cares about us. We feel significant.

The thing is this destructive cycle can become quite addictive and plays havoc with our relationships. Most people don’t want to associate with someone who looks for a personal negative on everything they say and do. And the person who is constantly rescuing begins to feel tired of the extra responsibility.

Decide that your relationships are too important to risk damaging them. Make a stance and refuse to be a victim. Handle things like a responsible adult would and look for your part in any situation.

4. Change the Hidden Question That Keeps You Stuck

As humans, we ask ourselves questions all the time. In fact, it is the basis of our internal communication. And the answers we receive are based on the quality of the questions.

The question victims most often ask themselves is “Why?”

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“Why is this happening to me?”

“Why did she do that?”

“Why did he say that to me?”

The problem is these are low quality questions. And because our unconscious mind immediately answers those questions, it will give low quality answers. For example;

“Because you’re not good enough..”

“Because she doesn’t like you”

“Because he doesn’t value you.”

Any question beginning with “Why” will keep you stuck in your current situation feeling like a victim.

Make a decision to banish the word “Why” from your vocabulary and replace it with words like “What”, “How” and “When”.

For example;

“What can I do to get a different outcome?”

“When will I contact her and explain how I feel?”

“How can I change the situation?”

As you change the quality of your questions, you will notice how much more empowered you feel regardless of the actions of others.

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5. Take Responsibility for Your Perception

There’s a multitude of ways we can see a situation. But if you regularly hold pity parties, it’s virtually guaranteed you only see things in a certain way.

The way we filter information influences the way we perceive things, and this is based on past and present experience. So if we have consistently seen things in a negative way in the past, it’s likely we will continue to do so unless we bring awareness to the table.

Psychotherapist and international expert on mental strength Amy Morin states that our emotional state influences how we perceive reality.[2]

And the way we perceive reality also affects how we feel, so it’s a self perpetuating cycle.

No one makes us see anything the way we choose to see it. And in my experience the way we initially view things, is often not what is really happening at all.

Our perception creates our reality and by changing our viewpoint, we are able to change any experience.

Take responsibility for the way you are viewing a situation and challenge yourself to see it in a different way.

If you feel troubled by an experience, get yourself a sheet of paper and write a list of every perception you can think of. You will be surprised at how off the mark you initially were.

6. Embrace Courage and Be Kind to Yourself

It takes courage to hold up the mirror and look at our part in things, but this is the only way to sustainably change. This is because we only ever have complete control and influence over ourselves.

There are always two parts in any situation, whether it’s a disagreement with someone else or that job you didn’t get. And when we look at our part, we gain insights on how to change or improve next time.

Holding up the mirror doesn’t mean beating yourself up for your mistakes. This is just another form of self pity.

Be kind to yourself in this process — 30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself. Observe yourself and give yourself advice as you would a trusted friend.

As you do this, you will notice your self-pity decrease and self-empowerment increase. You will always gain personal growth and benefits from each circumstance.

7. Acknowledge the Good in Your Life

The main mindset of self-pitying behavior is to have a negative default. This means we rarely look at the good things we have in our life.

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Because of this, the fastest way to turn this around is to make it a practice to regularly focus on the good. You may have heard this before and that’s because it’s true.

I am a big believer in keeping a gratitude journal and have been doing this daily for eight years. It certainly keeps me on track with acknowledging the good.

Begin each day by writing down 5 to 10 things you are grateful for. Make them different things each day. From the simple things like the drinking water coming out of your tap to the bigger things like your pay cheque arriving.

You can also do this out on your daily walk or driving to work. Instead of being lost in your thoughts at those times, stay aware. Actively look for things to be grateful for like the trees or rain.

As you practice the attitude of gratitude you change your automatic default from negative to positive.

8. Notice Others Less Fortunate

With all the disasters happening in our world right now, it’s easy to find examples of others less fortunate. This is comparison used in a positive way.

That person you thought spoke rudely to you yesterday is a minute hurt compared to people currently losing their homes in fires globally. That is huge pain. They’re trying to put their lives back together and help others right now.

Instead of feeling wrapped up in your own despondency, look for ways you can help others and make a difference.

Contribution is one of the fastest ways to feeling good and taking your attention away from yourself. It builds huge positive connection with others. You will feel like you are doing good in the world and see you are making a difference.

This is good for you, good for others and good for the greater good. And you will notice your self-confidence and empowerment soar.

Final Thoughts

Self pity isn’t a good or bad thing; it just doesn’t work over the long term. The more we feel sorry for ourselves, the more inclined we are to keep repeating unwanted circumstances.

Life will never be easy all the time, because that’s not why we are here. As humans, we are here to experience variety, which includes pleasure and problems. And within each unwanted issue is the opportunity to grow and create a better life.

Give yourself support and look for solutions to create the life experiences you deserve. From this standpoint, your problems will no longer have the hold on you they once had.

More Positive Vibes

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Independent: Why Self Pity Is Bad for Your Health
[2] Psychology Today: 9 Ways to Get Past Self Pity

More by this author

Deb Johnstone

Deb is a sought after mindset speaker and a transformational life and business coach specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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