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8 Ways to Let Go of Self-Pity for Good

8 Ways to Let Go of Self-Pity for Good
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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

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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 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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