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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 professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2020

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

“Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

Red flags can include:

  • They always put themselves first.
  • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
  • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
  • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
  • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
  • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
  • You are the villain; they are the victim.
  • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
  • They may engage in abuse.

2. Set Boundaries

There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

3. Invest in Yourself

You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts

Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

More Tips on Letting Go of Toxic People

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

Reference

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