When relationships end, we first feel self-pity like life becomes a burden, but not only relationships can make you feel this way… say you didn’t get that job you really wanted; you missed an important deadline; the stock market crashes; or you lose your home.
There’s a multitude of things that don’t ALWAYS go the way we want them to and it’s natural to feel sorry for ourselves. In fact, I always say it’s important to let all that emotion out instead of holding it in. However, problems quickly 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.
Here are FIVE (5) ways you can let go of
self-pity for good
1) 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.
2) 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 to feel regardless of the actions of others.
3) 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 experiences. 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 past 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.
4) 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.
5) 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 paycheque 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 trees or rain.
As you practice the attitude of gratitude you change your automatic default from negative to positive.