It is very common these days to come across people who feel sorry for themselves. I call them self-pitiers. If it’s not an unemployed HIV+ woman with nine kids, who was continuously misled by the different fathers of her children, it’s a woman who was abandoned by her husband, an unemployed youth who can’t find a job, it’s a couple who can’t have children, a man who could have made it, only if he got ‘that tender’, a retrenched employee. It’s children who grew up with alcoholic parents. It’s that person who’s unlucky, where nothing of his bears fruit. It’s victims of child abuse, or children who were neglected by their parents, or those whose parents spoilt them rotten, or those children whose parents failed living up to the right standards so that they can steer them in the right direction in life. It’s those who lost their parents. It’s homeless people.
Self-pity is a result of either something that happened in childhood, a recent tragedy such as an illness or the death of a loved one, a financial setback, or an inability to make something out of anything. In some cases, it’s something that one cannot change in their persona: such as being unattractive, overweight or having a disability. Some people just enjoy feeling sorry for themselves, they complain, they whine, and they always find new reasons to feel sorry for themselves when something happens in their lives, good or bad. It’s very easy to spot them, because they start most of their sentences with the words ‘If only…’ ‘If only I had gotten that tender’, ‘if only my parents’, ‘if only’, ‘if only’ …Recognise any of this?
Why do people feel sorry for themselves?
People who feel sorry for themselves feel powerless about their situation. They feel victimised and believe they can’t cope, especially if they are dealing with someone whom they see as having power over them.
Self-pity and self-sorrow can be comforting. It can also take a person away from facing unbearable emotions such as grief or fear. And when they tell others how sorry they feel for themselves, it’s a way to get sympathy or a means of getting themselves off the hook – of course, no one expects much from those they feel sorry for.
Self-pitiers lack confidence and esteem. Lack of positive self-belief and confidence lead to self-doubt and insecurity. So, it becomes easier to feel sorry for themselves because if they take time to examine the situation, they will find that there are options they can take to change the situation, and that is not what they want. They lack the confidence to take action, and therefore, it’s easier to feel sorry for themselves. This then also stops them taking responsibility for their actions and they become entangled in fear and insecurity.
Self-pitiers feel sorry for themselves when they’re shunned by the person they look up to. Sometimes an individual can idolise a certain person who does not give their time, love, admiration and attention. This helps the self-pitier to continue being the victim, and continuously blame their ‘idol’ for their situation.
Self-pitiers feel sorry for themselves when they believe they are of no value in life. Because they don’t know how to improve their life situation, feeling sorry confirms their low self-worth of themselves and they continue being in the blame mode. Unfortunately, once self-pity sets in, it becomes an ingrained pattern in their minds – It becomes the norm and the way the person sees themselves, and it becomes difficult to get rid of. It becomes the perpetual blame, taking no responsibility, thinking negatively.
The reality is that people feel sorry for themselves because it feels good to feel sorry for oneself. Feeling self-pity and sorry for oneself is a comfort, because it allows us to blame external forces for our misfortunes. It’s a good excuse for us not taking action when we know that taking action would be difficult, stressful, and it could possibly lead to failure.
Why self-pity and feeling sorry for yourself is bad for you
Spending time feeling sorry for yourself consumes the energy that you could be using to turn your life around. As long as you’re stuck in the past, you can’t figure out and determine how to create a better future. And while it might be comforting to get people to be sympathetic to you, they will eventually get tired of your complaining and whining, and ultimately lose the little ounce of respect they have for you.
When you feel self-pity and sorry for yourself, you manifest sorrow, and more misfortune. You bring it unto yourself…Ever heard of ‘self-fulfilling’ prophecy?
So now, the big question: How can you get rid of self-pity and stop feeling sorry for yourself?
You cannot control what happens in the environment
Recognise that bad things happen. On the journey of your life, the journey to your destiny, you will encounter challenges, you will face setbacks, you will meet roadblocks, and you may experience tragedy. You will feel down, you will feel out, you will feel like a failure, you will feel like life is not fair. No matter what happens, you and you alone are the master of your destiny. You get to choose how you react to the things that are happening to you.
Ever heard of the saying: ‘This too shall pass’?
So, whenever you are faced with a problem, be it emotional or practical, take a deep breath, focus your mind clearly and objectively upon the situation at hand and remind yourself that you are responsible. Then ask yourself what you intend to do about it. This may involve something designed to change the situation itself or simply to alter the way you feel about it. Remember that there are always options and choosing to give up your own choices usually isn’t the best course of action. And remind yourself that: this too, shall pass.
Stop Focusing On What Other People Have
What other people have is theirs, not yours. Focus on creating what truthfully belongs to you. Stop comparing your life to other people’s. Make a commitment to yourself to stop feeling sorry for yourself: understand and learn to recognise when that feeling of self-pity attacks.
Recognise that there are people out there who are facing a worse situation than you are, and there are people out there who are less fortunate than you are. Be grateful for what you have, and do something for someone less fortunate than you. See the glass as half full than half empty.
Build Self Esteem
Having low self-esteem, morale down? Take the trouble to learn and implement a system of emotional or psychological self-help. What I’m talking about is that you need to be self-motivated. I’m talking about you getting that emotion, that energy that makes you wake up in the morning, that gives you the drive and force to do something. This you will not get from anyone but yourself. Do note that the change will not happen overnight – this is a journey. Keep striving for one little improvement of your life each day, and one day, a year later, you’ll be amazed at how much you have changed.
Take Responsibility for yourself
Feeling stuck, no direction? Not knowing what to do? Stop waiting for other people to solve your problems for you. There are two good reasons for this. Firstly, in most cases they can’t – not entirely. Other people may be able to change your immediate situation but they probably can’t prevent difficulties from arising again. Secondly, you will find yourself in the same old position of needing to find someone willing to come and pick up the pieces again. So, the problem of dependence will not have altered. Taking time to learn the skills you need to solve your own problems usually works much better in the long run and makes you much more popular as people no longer avoid you for fear of becoming over involved in your problems. Remember – you are responsible. What are you going to do about it?
My challenge to you? See the glass as half full rather than half empty. Recognise that only you are responsible for your destiny, for your life, and that, it all starts with YOU!
‘Self pity is the sworn enemy of your ambition. It is the number one killer of your aspirations and goals. Give it a foothold in your life and you’ll chase away every dream, dreamt and every friend, befriended.’ Jason Versey