Glorified and despised at the same time, self-pity has often been depicted as a refuge; a “cozy” place where we can heal after a negative experience. The reason why we hate it (and even hate ourselves) is that we tend to fall in love with this mental state quickly and remain stuck, never doing anything outside our comfort zone. So how can we “break the spell” and free ourselves from self-pity?
Acting vulnerable pays off
Just like any other bad habit or limiting mindset, wallowing in self-pity has some unexpected benefits; otherwise, our mind would have eliminated it long ago.
For starters, self-pity is like a bubble, keeping you safe and out of harm’s way (emotionally). Nothing can hurt you if you interact with nothing, seems to be the motto.
Another reason why “the oasis” of self-pity is so alluring revolves around our need for attention; an otherwise healthy need if obtained through “functional” means (e.g. making yourself noticed at work or helping out another human being). To put it bluntly, we use self-pity to “fish” for other people’s sympathy and encouragement.
The problem with short-term benefits is, as the name suggests that they don’t last for long. At some point, people will get tired of being our “safety net,” but more importantly, we will get tired of having to endure constant downfalls.
So how can we go from being the victim to being the victor?
Shift to a new mindset
In essence, self-pity is a collection of irrational thoughts and limiting beliefs about personal power. We choose to embrace such beliefs because, as we mentioned above, acting vulnerable pays off.
Since self-pity is a strategy that relies heavily on our thinking style, one way of dealing with it is by adjusting our mindset ; our core beliefs.
Do any of this sound familiar to you:
- I can’t do it alone.
- Life is too hard for me.
- I hate myself for feeling this way.
- I’m not strong enough.
- Luck is never on my side.
It is because of such negative and dysfunctional beliefs, that we end up feeling sorry for ourselves and holding on to the victim mentality. One way of dealing with self-pity is by using positive affirmations that will “readjust” our thinking style.
First, identify the negative core beliefs that are keeping you in the “spiral of self-pity” then replace them with positive affirmations. For example, you can replace “I can’t do it alone” with “I am enough” and “Life is too hard for me” with “I can and I will take control of my life.”
Set yourself up for a better life by changing your negative beliefs.
Help a stranger
In almost every case, self-pity is accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness. In other words, we are acutely aware of our problems, we know how to fix them, but we lack the energy and motivation to make a change.
Maybe we can get rid of self-pity and rediscover our inner strength by helping others who have it worse than us.
It could be anything from giving money to a homeless person, to volunteering for various causes. Any activity where you give something (money, skills, time) without expecting anything in return is a good candidate for this exercise.
The purpose is to prove to yourself that you can make a difference in someone else’s life. It is such small gestures that enable us to regain our self-confidence and put an end to self-pity.
Learn to help yourself by helping others.
Use the word “No” more often
Every time we feel sorry for ourselves, there is a whole array of negative beliefs about ourselves, piling up in the background of our mind. The sensation can be overwhelming, which is why most of us simply choose to give up and accept self-pity as an easy way out.
But what if we could stop (or at least withstand) this torrent of negativity that washes away our motivation and self-confidence? What if we could cut off the roots of self-pity? What if we could tell ourselves…
“NO! I will not be a victim.”
“NO! I will not let self-pity stop me.”
If used correctly, “NO” can be a powerful affirmation against the tendency to awfulize our situation to the point where we feel sorry for ourselves. To put it differently, a firm and definitive “No” can put an end to the negative thoughts that fuel our victim mentality.
Say, “No” to self-pity and take responsibility for your wellbeing!