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How To Overcome Self-Pity And Take Control Of Your Life

You might have heard the proverb, “Self-pity isn’t witty”. Please register that it is rightly said. Self-reproach and self-pity are quite injurious to mental health. I have included self-reproach with self-pity because these are two sides of the same coin. The emotion of self-pity is what is visible above the surface, whereas self-reproach lies deep down in one’s mind.

Those who are perfectionists to the point of absurdity rebuke themselves for being unable to meet unrealistic expectations. They are not ready to comprehend and, therefore, accept their natural limitations. They play the victim and keep shifting the burden of guilt and shame to other people, God, or destiny.

They believe that life has not been fair enough in treating them the way it treats others. This way, their minds try to justify and cope with whatever bad has ever happened to them.

They are not fully aware of their strengths, weaknesses, and the best possible way to use them. They are not able to comprehend the deeply intertwined reasons for failure. Their minds fabricate stories and find refuge in blaming or scolding.

Self-pity is a result of self-reproach like resilience is a consequence of grit. While grit is a desirable quality, self-pity is not.

The people who are not ready to accept themselves in roles less than their perfect ideals are continuously comparing themselves to others and their situation to other people’s circumstances. Their goal is not to strive for perfection but to be perfect. When they fail, they are unable to forgive themselves.

Self-pity drains their energy, tires them mentally and physically, and enables them to remain stuck in the miserable condition of being inactive and stressed. Resilient people would comfortably move on to preparing for their next goal. They do not unnecessarily fixate on what was not achieved. They would learn their lessons and apply them for better results next time.

Grit is passion, patience, and perseverance for long-term goals. People who have grit wait patiently and willingly when things take time to turn in their favor. In the face of difficulty, they stand firm. In the case of failure, they keep their learning and move to the next venture.

They don’t seek to blame themselves or others for disasters. Instead, they show faith in the process of life.

Here are a few tips that people may try following to be mentally strong and emotionally contented. Serenity and calm would come as by-products to these exercises.

  1. Face your feelings head-on. Allow yourself to experience negative emotions like stress, grief, anger, and loneliness. The only way to overcome pain is to go through it. Don’t let your mind distract you by fabricating stories like you are to suffer more than other people, and therefore the suffering is not yours. You have to accept, feel, and fully acknowledge your pain to let it go. Question your perception by asking, “Why do I have to think like that?” “Am I always the unfortunate one?” “Has my entire life been ruined?” “Am I realistic in thinking so?” Ask critical questions and look for logical answers.
  2. Recognize warning signs of a downward spiral. Involve yourself with some constructive activity as soon as you sense those thoughts coming. Don’t let the combination of negative thoughts and inactivity fuel the feeling of guilt, shame, and resulting self-pity.
  3. Turn your negative thoughts into behavioral experiments. Don’t let them turn into self-fulfilling prophecies like “I can never do this;” “There is no chance whatsoever;” “That was the only hope;” “This is the end of everything.”
  4. Accept the challenge by structuring your goals as micro routines, e.g., start with a five-minute walk or physical activity at a given time in case you feel too tired or bored to follow your usual exercise routine. Stop trying to win sympathies from people by whining. Be in charge of your own life. Either take action by strategising and making amends or bravely accept and stay collected in the face of what could not be changed.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others. Know that you are unique and like no one else. Understand that you are perfect in your imperfections. Be true to yourself by tapping into your own potential instead of looking at and comparing yourself with people who you think are better able or more fortunate. Instead, look for and help those who are less fortunate. Stop fixating on your inconveniences and start striving to improve the lives of others.
  6. Always maintain an optimistic outlook. Have hope and faith in the face of adversaries. Acknowledge that you can handle whatever life throws at you, including situations like losing a loved one to death or break up, natural calamities, or certain health conditions.
  7. Last but not least, try to focus on whatever good you have. An attitude of gratitude attracts further rewards. By feeling gratitude for your abilities, you create opportunities to fulfill your desires.

Self-pity is about thinking, “I deserve better.” Gratitude, on the other hand, is about thinking, “I have enough to meet my needs and to help others meet theirs.” Be grateful even for such abundant blessings as fresh air to breathe or clean water to drink.

Stay safe, stay positive, and be in charge.


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Naya Daur