Moving Beyond Self Pity
How can a person overcome self pity and stop feeling sorry for themselves?
Self pity is a comforting behavior that fills a need for obsessive thinking. Therefore, the key to beating it is to recognize it when it creeps into your thoughts and eliminate it immediately. Because feeling sorry for oneself becomes a pattern over time, you need to retrain your brain not to think so negatively.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Create a zero tolerance policy with yourself – this is what got me “on the road to recovery” when it came to my self pity. I simply made a pact with myself that I would not allow myself to indulge in it any more. This was a re-training of my brain; a new way of thinking for me. In most cases, this “mental policy” worked out really well for me. However, when self-pity persisted, I had to seek other means.
2. Move your body – Physical exercise is critical for arresting this type of depression. If you force yourself to be physically active and really get your heart rate going, this will have a profound effect on your emotional well being. If you move your body your mind will follow. Physical energy and motivation can empower your whole life. Getting in shape can be a springboard to better emotional health. This can be a huge piece of the puzzle that many people will overlook or simply discount. Get active and you’ll be happier for it!
3. Choose Gratitude - This is a direct attack on self pity: you cannot feel both grateful and sorry for yourself at the same time. The two feelings are completely incompatible. Gratitude is the ticket out of misery and self-absorption. If you have to, sit down and force yourself to write a list of everything you are grateful for. My sponsor tells me to list at least 50 things. Seems a bit simplistic, but getting it all down in writing can work wonders for you.
It’s so much more empowering than feeling sorry for yourself.
Self pity is my favorite character defect. It is what made me into an addict. When I needed to rationalize my drinking or drug use, my favorite technique was to feel sorry for myself. Sad but true. It always worked so well for me. I loved the feeling that my life was spinning out of control, and that people had done me wrong, and that I was a true victim. This really didn’t happen all that often in my life; people were actually pretty good to me. But when ever I got the chance, I loved to feel sorry for myself, and I used the feeling to justify my drinking.
Because I’m such a shy person, I’ve grown accustomed to using rejection to fuel my pity-parties. My diseased little mind thinks that rejection is the worst thing in the world–even worse than death itself. This irrational belief typically paralyzes me and keeps me from taking healthy risks. In my recovery, I’ve worked on this character defect, and gotten a little better at it. So I take more risks, and usually it pays off. But rejection is a part of life–experiencing rejection on an occasional basis is inevitable. It’s going to happen. So I’ve had to learn how to get over my tendency to throw an “internal pity-party.”
In the beginning of my recovery, I had lots of reasons to feel down on myself. As time went on, my life in recovery got better–in almost every way–and I learned how to stop mentally playing the victim role.
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