Unwanted changes, unexpected challenges, loss, disappointments, abuse or other forms of adversity often bring with them hurt or harm. Feelings of self-pity are quite normal and understandable. It is natural to feel sorry for yourself when you are having a hard time. But if self-pity takes over and you don’t reign it in, it is a very problematic emotion.
The Problem with Self-Pity
Self-pity reinforces the sense of being a victim bringing with it hopelessness and inaction. Your options seem very limited. You are preoccupied with the past and see it as defining your future in a very negative and restrictive way. Your perception narrows to seeing only loss, damage and problems. You believe yourself to be helpless, defeated and vulnerable. Self-pity may keep you rather passive, hoping to be rescued, by someone, somehow.
The Power of Self-Compassion
Self-compassion also acknowledges the difficulty you find yourself in. But it is not about feeling sorry for yourself, blaming others or dwelling on misery. Appreciating the realities of your situation, self-compassion is a nurturing attitude towards yourself. It involves treating yourself with the same kindness, caring and empathy you would have for a very dear friend: gentle and understanding with yourself when you are having a difficult time, feel inadequate or have failed. Instead of allowing your inner critic to take over or getting stuck in victim-hood, you look at yourself in a compassionate way and extend comfort and care towards yourself.
When it seems you are the only one who is inadequate or suffering, remember that being human brings with it vulnerability and imperfection. Whatever your experience, keep a balanced perspective rather than ignoring your pain or exaggerating it.