How to Call a Halt to That Pity Party

by WiseFool

Self-pity and bitterness are destructive emotions that are best tossed aside. Easier said than done, you say? Well, maybe not.

Self-pity is one of the ugliest facets of human nature. We usually hate it in others, but we're all guilty of wallowing from time to time. Let's face it, life ain't fair and there will be times in our lives when we want (or need) to rail against the world. That's fine, as long as you can get it out and be done with it.

But if self-pity becomes a permanent state of mind, it won't just alienate those around you. It will also have an adverse affect on your ability to get your life back on track and, whether you realize it or not, that is a one-way street to more misery.

So, here are a few tips for bringing your private pity party to a graceful end.

Don't Forget to Count Your Blessings

I think, in the vast majority of cases, no matter how bad things are, there will almost certainly still be something to be grateful for. Perhaps it's a person in your life or a relationship you value; maybe it's the love of an animal; or perhaps it's your health.

Life can sometimes deal you a really rotten hand, but if you can remember to be grateful for the things that are good - even if those things are few and far between, you'll be much happier.

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"What poison is to food, self-pity is to life." - Oliver C. Wilson

"I tell people to monitor their self-pity. Self-pity is very unattractive." - Patty Duke

Keeping Looking Forwards

All right, so things look pretty grim right now (maybe they look downright awful), but if that's the case, then there is some good news: the only way is up.

We humans thrive, not so much on the achievement of a goal or the attaining of possessions or relationships, but on the striving for those things; the anticipation.

Looking forward to something can provide us with great joy and, more importantly, in terms of removing yourself from a rut of self-pity, looking forward shifts your focus.

By giving yourself something to shoot for, you're no longer fixated on the internal, but you're aiming for the external: your goals and aspirations.

Find Inspiration in Something

Trying to work your way out of the mire of self-pity is not a one size fits all affair.

And certainly, finding inspiration is a very personal thing, so do whatever you need to do.

That may mean listening to certain pieces of music, enjoying the beauty of nature, reading a book that motivates you, spending time with a loved one, or ruminating over a favorite piece of artwork.

Whatever it is that helps you see the bigger picture, make sure you're doing it.

And don't forget, we need to freshly motivate ourselves often. If you're feeling self-pitying, then you may need to freshly motivate yourself on a daily basis. It's like bathing, we don't just do it once and expect it to last a lifetime. 

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Make Someone Else Feel Good, Make Yourself Feel Good

Help yourself out of self-pity by doing something for othersIt's a cliche, but it's true: one of the best ways to feel better is to do something for someone else.

It doesn't have to be a big, grand gesture, small things are just as effective.

Remind a loved one that they're special to you; ask an elderly neighbor if you can pick them something up from the store; call that friend you've been meaning to phone for months. 

You'll be amazed how an improved sense of self and better self-esteem can affect your mood and the level of self-pity you feel. 

Stop Viewing Yourself as a Victim

One of the most common traits of self-pity is the notion that the world is against you. Life for other people is dandy, but for me, it's a b!*£&.

And, let's face it, some things in life are beyond your control: if a storm floods your house, there's very little you can do; if the company you work for goes bust and you lose your job, that's not your fault.

However, there are times when bad things happen and we should take responsibility, even if it's only to realize that we could have seen it coming and been better prepared.

In any case, the way to stop wallowing in self-pity is to focus on the things you can affect. And, believe it or not, you can affect a lot. Shakespeare may have thought that "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players", but we have a lot more say over our lives than that.

"Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world." - Helen Keller

"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself." - D. H. Lawrence

Don't Be Afraid to Seek Help

There is a big difference between self-pity and depression.

However, self-pity can lead to depression, and depression can be mistaken for self-pity.

If you're unable to help yourself, then it is a good idea to speak to someone else.

That may be a therapist, if you feel that talking out your problems will be helpful. 

Alternatively, if you're worried that what you're experiencing might be more than just a bout of self-pity, be sure to seek help from your doctor.

Updated: 03/04/2013, WiseFool
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WiseFool on 03/23/2013

Thanks, Katie! You're right that the way we think turns into the way we behave and that can be habit forming. Likewise, the company you keep can have a huge impact on your own outlook on life. Misery loves company! Thanks for your kind words and the tweet; much appreciated.

katiem2 on 03/23/2013

Either way I'm a firm believer both (positive or pity driven) mind sets are contagious . I was raised in a very positive environment and to this day am overly positive (according to most) I find great advantageous to looking on the bright side, accentuating the positive and avoiding pitiful people as they are not company I keep nor I them.

I agree pity is something we should address in a timely manner, fleeting thoughts of pity being the goal as we learn early on to move on and get past it.

What a great topic, very interesting and great confirmation as to a positive thought process.

Gotta tweet this... NOW! :)K

WiseFool on 02/24/2013

Hey, Dustytoes. Thanks for lending your thoughts. I think you're absolutely right, it's about focusing on the small things that we should be grateful for and building on those. Also, of course, finding that 'something' that helps to lift our spirits (which is different for everyone). And sometimes an activity that usually works, won't quite do the trick. Perhaps in those instances, we need to shake things up; do something new, get a change of perspective.

dustytoes on 02/24/2013

The most difficult thing to do when self-pity is knocking, is to find the thing that will help the most to lift our spirits. For me it is walking. When I walk, I thank God for all that is good, including the fact that I can walk. If we start small, being thankful for each little thing, we may find the hope we need to go on.

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