How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

self-pity

Image copyright Eddy Van – Flickr.com

Do you want to learn how to stop feeling sorry for yourself? If yes, you are like me and deserve a virtual pat on the back! You are ahead of the curve in comparison to others who are currently experiencing an internal pity-party.

It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished. – Mrs. Miracle

I did not write this post because I think there is something terribly wrong with you that needs fixed. I instead wrote it because I know exactly how it feels to be at the bottom of the barrel and wanting to climb out. I also know the great satisfaction that comes with ending this negative cycle and continuing to move forward with enjoying life.

Whatever your reason is for feeling sorry for yourself – know that it has a cause. The trick is understanding why this self-pity has come about, what damage it is causing you, and how to end it.


What in the Heck Caused This?

Self-pity is caused by a number of things with the following being the most common. You MUST understand why you are feeling sorry for yourself in order to target the source and end it.

You will surely smile with me when I say, ‘Thank God one can still recognize self-pity as such and not give it any greater dignity than just that. ― James Fox

Injured Ego - This is when something has happened to make you feel embarrassed, hurt your self-confidence, or make you question your strengths.

Examples might include: Experiencing a break-up, losing your job, being treated poorly (bullied in a sense), or plans falling through.

Combat this by knowing you are still the same person you were before the event took place and this one experience does not define you. You are stronger than that and can overcome this situation and will move on being yourself – someone you are proud to be.

Seek Sympathy – A common reason you that might seek sympathy is because you feel that no one understands what you are going through. Another motive is because your social network has dwindled or you are not getting the attention you desire. Seeking sympathy can also happen when your self-esteem is low or your feelings of self-worth are based on the approval of others.

You can fight this by trying to talk though your emotions with trusted family and friends, hanging out with people in clubs or social events, and realizing the only person you need to impress is yourself!

Need an Excuse – I heard this one from a recovering alcoholic. He explained that by feeling sorry for himself it fueled his justification to continue being a dead-beat alcoholic. Self-pity would give him a very comforting feeling that relieved many stresses in his life.

The stress of facing his addiction and admitting he needed help being the largest. Self-pity was his way out, a way to tell himself that his behaviors were acceptable – even when deep down inside he knew they were not.

Defeat the addiction of indulging in self-pity by seeing it for what it is – an excuse. Self-pity is an enabler and prevents you from reaching your full potential. The real you knows what’s up, fight for yourself and your happiness by ending this vicious cycle NOW.

how to stop feeling sorry for yourself

Image copyright Jan Sefti – Flickr.com

The Damage

I am not going to insult your intelligence by pretending that you don’t already know self-pity isn’t good for you. You wouldn’t have made the effort to find this post if you couldn’t already feel the toll it has taken on you.

Feeling sorry for yourself harms your friendships, your future, your health, and so much more.

Friendships – In a perfect world you would never have to worry about losing “friends”, unfortunately this world isn’t so perfect. When you are feeling sorry for yourself or even depressed and go to seek help from your friends things could get ugly. The artificial friends will flee and your good trusted friends/family will begin to get worn out. I lost a artificial friend once because of this, he simply didn’t understand that I was going through a difficult time in life. (Not the type of friend I want to keep anyway.)

The sad truth is that no one wants to hear you rant – most people don’t know how to respond to it. Next thing you know no one will want to come hang out with you and you will begin to get lonely.

Future – When you are feeling sorry for yourself you block out those motivating emotions like enthusiasm, happiness, and excitement. Without those three it becomes almost impossible to work towards a good future. Plus it’s unlikely when you are feeling self-pity that you will be able to visualize a future goal to work towards.

I let myself feel good and sorry for myself, but only for a second. Daddy always said that the most useless of all human emotions was self-pity. ― Gabrielle Zevin

Health – Self-pity = negativity, stress, worry, and anxiety. All of which destroy your health. Stomach ulcers can develop, you will make yourself sick, and will constantly feel fatigued. Everyday that you wallow in self-pity is likely taking a day off your life.

how to not feel sorry for yourself

Image copyright Vicky Brock – Flickr.com

How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Forget It – The best thing to do is to just completely forget about it all. Your mind is naturally obsessive and will keep you in a never ending cycle of misery until you find a way to break it! Throw yourself into something else, get extremely involved in anything else or find something new to obsess about. This way you change your mental state completely. When your mind tries to go back to feeling sorry – picture a large STOP sign.

Consider What Good It Is – Sit down and think long and hard about the effect feeling sorry for yourself is having on you. Is it helping you enjoy life? Is it getting you closer to reaching your goals? Or is it simply giving you a way out?

Perhaps you’ve realized it was caused from a negative event. Are you going to let this event control the rest or your life? You are more important than that – decide to stand up for yourself NOW.

He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that–it didn’t work. ― Gary Paulsen

Gratitude – This one is my favorite. Gratitude is your best friend during a rough time – or anytime really.

I like to do this strange little activity where I imagine I am in a 3rd world country. I think about how all of my 3rd world country friends view me as extremely wealthy. I have a solid roof over my head, clean running water at my fingertips, a full-stomach, a TV, and heat. This helps me put my life into perspective – considering that the 2012 World Hunger Statistics showed there are more than 925 million people in the world currently starving.

I also like to place value to those intangible things I own. For example, I think about how much money I would be willing to give someone if my dog Oscar was held for ransom. I calculate and figure it’s $1.79 and then I realize hey I am actually a lot richer than I realize! In all honesty I’d probably pay at least $50,000 – but don’t touch my dog!

How much would you be willing to pay to have your legs back if they were lost in an accident? What ever that number, use it to fuel your gratitude for having them!

Conclusion – You came to this post thinking self-pity is ridiculous. Now you KNOW it is. All you have to do is fight and get yourself out of this mess. Know that you are not a victim and you do have it better than at least one person in this world!

As always if you need my help leave a post in the forum and we can work together to move you closer towards happiness.

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to Be Happy Even When You’re Sad
How to Be Happy Single and Alone: 5 Indispensable Ways
12 Strategies to Stop Negative Thoughts

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About TJ Chasteen

Hi! I'm TJ the creator of How-toBeHappy.com. I believe that nothing is more important than living a life full of daily happiness. That is my mission - I help my followers (and myself) design a life that easily produces happy moments everyday.

Comments

  1. Andy says:

    Thanks for calming me down when I was frantic. That quote beneath is so right! I’ve been knocked down but I must get back up again and struggle on.

    It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that–it didn’t work. ― Gary Paulsen

    • TJ says:

      Hi Andy,

      I am very glad this has helped you. Yes you may have to “struggle on” but that mentality is the type that will free you eventually. Without a doubt that quote was the most influential to me as well. If you’d like we can talk more about what you’re going through – I’d like to help because I just got out of a similar type of rut. I hope things start looking up for you!

      Warm regards,
      TJ

  2. Laura says:

    I love your website. Everything about it. I have been fighting sadness and self pity and little by little this is helping. Thank you for your encouraging HAPPY words!! :)

    • TJ says:

      Thank you Laura!

      You are welcome, but also thank you for your encouraging words! This is the kind of comment I love to get, because it lets me know I am making a difference even if its miniscule. When fighting sadness and self-pity it will normally work that way. You’ll slowly start to feel a little better as each day goes on until it gets to the point where things seem pretty good. I hope to see you around!

      Best,
      TJ

  3. Heather says:

    Great post! My favorite part was on gratitude. I often try to think of how it could always be worse, and I need to remember everything I do have when I start having my own little pity party. Thanks for having such a great website.

    • Thanks Heather,

      Life is so much a perspective game – if you can learn to play it in your favor, it’s easier to “win”.

      Best,
      TJ

  4. silverdoe says:

    I need more help.. I slip back to it all the time..

    • It’s hard to defeat! Try and fight against little by little each day and eventually, those feeling will evaporate.

  5. BlueEgret says:

    I had a total meltdown last night and oh yes I did wallow in self pity. I realize that I have been terribly sad for a very long time. People look at me as a strong happpy woman who endures….little do they know that has been a front to all of the pain I have been carrying for years. I know what I have to do to get happy (that is to like myself first), it’s just a hard road when you don’t quite know how to start, and it’s easier to give up than keep trying. Thank you for this site, I have only read this first page and already know that it is going to get better. Sometimes I think I just want to run away, far away, like to another planet where people are nicer.

    • You are worth liking – trust me! It’s understandable to experience a crash, especially if you have been bottling up your true emotions for so long!

      A better life isn’t going to be easy, it’s going to require hard work – that’s why so few of us ever get there. You seem like you have a bit of will power, be sure to harness it and things will certainly turn around for the better.

      Those other planets might exist, but I doubt the creatures or oxygen levels on them will be of your liking!

      Best,
      TJ

      • BlueEgret says:

        Thank you TJ….and a word of encouragement for you….don’t stop this website…just look at the people here who need your encouraging words..you are not helping a miniscule amount of people but a whole bunch of us. I have always been a good listener and am able to help others out of their life defeating issues…but for some reason I cannot take my own advice and I always seek approval from others…why I have no idea.

        Subject: [how-tobehappy] Re: How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

  6. Thecomkeys says:

    Hi TJ, thank you for putting up this page. I have been pitying myself for a few years – I discovered that pain is actually a normal part of life, in fact as crazy as it sounds, I can actually be grateful for some of the pain in my life (e.g. if I put my hand down on a hot stove, pain warns me to take it off, whereas someone with leprosy (can’t feel pain) wouldn’t realise til it was too late.
    As far as more deeper pains are concerned (like break-ups and losing friends), I don’t have to try and force myself to say that what happened was a good thing, but I did have to do something about my pity-problems, because it was my pain itself that was holding me back, and that is a dangerous place to be, because it is difficult to tell someone to stop feeling sorry for themselves, without implying that the difficulties they’ve been through didn’t matter.
    I especially like what you say about me not being defined by my experiences. Now I am on the road to recovery, so I’m thinking of myself as a ‘work in progress’, but I’m a little bit afraid that I’ll forget to keep recovering, or somehow silp back – do you have any advice you can give me?

    • I’m glad to hear this has helped. I like your positive perspective with the hot stove analogy!

      Slipping back into an old way of thinking is something that happens with almost everyone from time to time. The best thing you could probably do to is to write down your goal and post it somewhere that you’re forced to read it daily. This will keep the mission of recovery on the forefront.

      I hope things continue to get better.

      Best,
      TJ

  7. Blueascanbe says:

    I have never been one to feel sorry for myself and so now this is a new one for me. I lost my best friend to suicide a couple of months ago and am struggling to move on. I feel like everyone has abandoned me as no one wants to talk about it with me. I guess they all feel like it is time for me to move on. I have always been able to pick myself up and go on but now I am feeling sorry for myself and I don’t like it. So, yes, now I am looking for answers for not feeling this self pity.

    • I think what you explain here is more about grieving than experiencing self-pity. I wouldn’t expect you to be over this after a couple of months. Things like death sometimes take years to heal. Give yourself time, and try and remember the good moments you and your friend shared…

      I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Kelsey says:

    I’ve been battling self-pity for a long time. This article gave me faith that I can change. Thank you. :)

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