Moving Beyond Self Pity

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.

self pity
Photo by Fuseman and ellectric

2. Move your bodyPhysical 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.

Choose Gratitude.

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.

If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed.



  1. I always firmly believed in taking full responsibility for my emotions, actions, reactions…etc
    but then, there is also the side of forgiving myself, somehow, for the things I feel sorry about, my personality, the way I am, where I am when I’m not wanting to be here. feeling limited and often enough, helpless…

    then after reading this, and following through on “Zero Tolerance” whenever these negative, self-destructive thoughts would arise, I can really tell a difference in my attitude and the way I see things. and filling the gaps of weakness with strength and drive.

    I’ve read another blog like this one where the author mentions “scheduling time for your self-pity”… I call BS! on that one! the only way to make it in this world, the way it is now, is to keep pulling on those boot straps, and never, ever let go! not even for a second! when you’re feeling bad, why allow yourself to feel bad? I’m not talking about suppression. that just creates disease! Strokes of regret, Cancer of something eating you up inside,

    no! I mean get out there and go for a nice, long walk! write down any positive thoughts at all! find some! meet up with people! get out there and socialize! accept your situation and make the best of it. take responsibility! and do something about it!

    take responsibility.

  2. I think you’re right when you say that self pity is a comforting behavior. I feel like that for the past 10 years I have been on this self pity road. Though I take walks and do yoga, and also write down things I’m grateful for, I still find that I have self pity. I also believe it’s true what Gail posted about blaming oneself which brings on the validation…I’ve done the forgiveness as well. I also know that I suffer from adult ADHD which makes my situation more complex. I could use some more examples of moving beyond the self pity.

  3. Self pity will get you nowhere. Be proactive. Don’t sit around and wait for the world to feel sorry for you, because chances are, they won’t! I have noticed people are put off by self-piteous people. I think they find it annoying and oppressive and no one wants to be around someone like that. If you want to improve your situation then YOU have to DO something positive. Stop dwelling on the bad stuff that happened to you that put you in that state of mind. Move on. Move forward. You can remain damaged because of your past or you can become stronger because of it. I chose to become stronger and when I look back at what I was when I felt so sorry for myself, I hated what I was. Self-pity is a selfish way to exist, instead, devote yourself to living life, showing gratitude for what you have, however insignificant it may seem to be to you…it is something and you should always be grateful to your Maker for all His gifts.

    • I have reached a new low, and in (desperately) seeking something, anything that might help, I found your response here, and it seems like maybe you have some insight as to where I am emotionally. I see your post is a year old, so I hope I’m not writing into the void.
      First, this not some new or recent thing for me, that I suffered a setback or two, and have fallen into this self-pity way of thinking. It’s always been like this for me, at least since young adulthood. I’ve been through it all and tried it all. I think I learned this behavior, this negative feeling sorry for myself thinking from my mother.
      So yes, I agree that physical activity is the single best (temporary) fix. However, I contracted a disease in 2008 that causes lot of pain. And now for instance, I can’t walk without severe pain in my left knee. Also, the chronic depression makes it very difficult to get out of bed, and that has been very bad lately. I think I’ve only gotten up at 2 or 3 days in the last week and ½ or so.
      I do try and try and try, give myself a break without “giving up”, then try and try and try some more. I do have many things to be grateful for, and I feel the gratitude and express it often, but that doesn’t really mitigate the feeling sorry myself.
      I believe strongly in personal responsibility. But as I texted a “friend” (I don’t have friends): How could the decisions I’ve made have brought me here? I make good decisions, not bad ones. But here I am, 45, reasonably attractive, smart, alone alone alone, unemployed, single/widowed/divorced, chronically ill.
      I hate feeling sorry for myself. It’s a learned behavior that I want undo. It’s cost me every friend and every non-friend (I’ve been betrayed very badly, many times) I ever had. But I don’t know how to change. I’ve done all the things suggested here, and everywhere else.
      I don’t know what to do! And I don’t see a single reason to do ANYTHING at all!

  4. I am trying to move through and past deep hurts from my mother. I have done step work, therapy and have been sober 15 years. This self pity crap still pops up when the hurt is exposed again. I really, really, really want to get over this hurt. My sponsor reminds me that this obsessive thinking is like drinking. Uhg. I welcome experience, strength and hope.

  5. My boyfriend was cheating on me and order a spell from Dr.OBODO.and the spells have changed him. Now I am happy with my boyfriend, thanks a lot

    E-mail;[email protected] or cell +2348155425481 for Dr.OBODO quick reach

    Maggie (from slovakia).

Comments are closed.