Many of us (including the author) have — at least for a brief time — felt sorry for ourselves during our l-o-n-g self-quarantining period. So, three questions occur to us. (1) What is self-pity? (2) Is this an acceptable form of behavior? (3) How do we avoid feeling sorry for ourselves?
Note: In this article, we treat “feeling sorry for ourselves” and “self-pity” as interchangeable terms.
What Is Self-Pity?
Feeling sorry for yourself/myself means to think a lot about your own problems. A person who is “feeling sorry for” him- or herself is not only sad, but also thinking things like: “Why did this have to happen to me?” “It’s not fair!” “No one loves me.” “Everything is ruined now!”
If you’re completely focused on feeling badly about your own problems and complaints, you’re feeling self-pity. Your self-pity can make it hard to appreciate that other people may face more serious troubles than you do.
When you feel sorry for yourself, or overly sad about the difficulties you face, you’re indulging in self-pity. It’s often easier to identify self-pity in other people than in yourself, partly because your own self-pity keeps your attention focused inward.
Is Self-Pity an Acceptable Form of Behavior?
Some experts believe that self-pity is almost never acceptable behavior. However, we believe that answering this question depends upon three issues. One, the severity of the negative situation. Two, our level of control to fix a bad situation. And three, how long we allow ourselves to engage in self-pity.
I don’t think anyone should spend too much time feeling sorry for themselves. But, sometimes I do feel sorry for myself. It’s a natural human emotion. And one you have to fight to get over when you feel it creeping in. It’s okay to sometimes indulge that feeling, insofar as you might want to spend an evening on the couch crying and eating chocolates. Or whatever else it is you do when you’ve decided the world has constricted into a tiny bubble that includes only your head. At the same time, nothing else exists except your extreme sorrow.
How Do We Avoid Feeling Sorry for Ourselves?
Self-pity causes you to think, “I deserve better.” On the other hand, gratitude is about thinking, “I have more than I deserve.” So the easiest way to conquer feelings of self-pity is to change the way you think.
Studies show that the feeling of gratitude offers a variety of benefits, including better sleep, improved health, better stress resilience, and more mental strength.
Every time you are tempted to complain about how bad your situation is, think about three things you’re grateful for. Some people even take it a step further and write them down in a gratitude journal.
Second, read Korin Miller’s observations for Women’s Health:
It can feel like you’re missing out on a bunch of awesome life experiences, and that can be a tough thing to swallow. But eventually life will get back to normal.* And it’s crucial to keep reminding yourself of that fact. Also, you’re not the only one dealing with this right now; the entire country, and most of the world is, too. While you’re in the thick of this experience, even when you’re upset that you’re missing out on certain things, it’s crucial to still allow for moments of happiness.
* Although, it is likely that we will face a “new normal” for at least a while. Therefore, we should try as hard we can to be grateful when we return to some semblance of normal — even if it is a new normal!!!! 🙂
Click the image to read a lot more helpful tips by Miller.