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!
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.
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?”
“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”.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude
- How to Think Positive Thoughts When Feeling Negative
- How to Gain Confidence and Really Boost Your Self Esteem
Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com