Life is hard… for everyone at some point or another. It is easy to feel alone in that hardship, because no one else really knows what is your life is like. We each are alone in the way we feel and experience things. That is a reality of life, and some have a harder time accepting that than others. Even those closest to you, who may have the best understanding of what your life is like, truly cannot understand exactly what it is like for you.
I have engaged in my fair share of self-pity over the years, especially having kids with chronic illness and single parenting through it. I am not immune to it now, ask my husband! But, I try to snap out of it quickly, as it only makes me feel so much worse in an already difficult situation. Although sadness, grief, pain, and some self-pity is absolutely valid; to dwell on it is detrimental. As much as it seems unfair not to dwell in our psychological pain, the truth is there is no utility in it. In fact, dwelling will only make your already difficult life harder.
In her book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin states mentally strong people “don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves.” She adds that “dwelling on your sorrow and misfortune is self-destructive.” Her signs that you may be engaging in self-pity… you tend to think your problems are worse than anyone else’s, you consider yourself to have frequent bad luck, you see your problems as adding up faster than others, you withdraw from leisure and social engagements to sit home and think about your problems, you’re more likely to comment on what went wrong in a day versus what went well, you complain about unfairness, you struggle to find things to be grateful for, you think other people’s lives are easier, and/or you wonder if the world is out to get you. I have personally felt all of these at one time or another!
These thoughts only serve to make you feel worse, drain mental energy, do nothing to change the situation, lead to more negative emotions, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prevent you from dealing with emotions, cause you to overlook the good in your life, and can interfere with relationships. All of this will only serve to make a bad situation worse, and make you feel worse in dealing with it. This leads to more negativity, and you are now in a negative and draining cycle even more difficult to get out of.
- Give yourself a reality check so you don’t over-exaggerate how bad things are.
- Replace overly negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts.
- Choose to actively problem solve and work on your situation.
- Do not remain passive about your situation. Do not focus only on how you feel… focus on what you can do.
- Get active, and behave in a way that makes you feel less sorry for yourself, even if you cannot change the situation.
- Practice gratitude every day (a good tip for us all!)
- Stay focused on what you have versus what you do not have.
Self-pity is a drain on psychological and physical energy. Whatever is leading to these thoughts of self-pity are draining enough, so you must combat them. Otherwise, you will feel stuck in life and assume you can never reach any goals. You are also more likely to engage in negative coping and self-destructive behaviors. Get active and get problem solving, stay as positive or at least neutral as you can, and find gratefulness. No matter how hard the situation, you are getting through it, day-by-day, and a more positive or realistic mindset will go a very long way!
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