August 19, 2014

Why We Love to Pity Ourselves. ~ Gabriella Miller

sick tired pain depressed sad

OK, to start out, I have a confession.

As I sit here writing an article about why we (I) self pity, I come in armed with a cup of hot tea, depressing hipster tunes and the A.C. set a little too high so that I have an excuse to lay under the covers of my bed…

Oh, and did I mention it’s a Saturday night? Hopefully, that gives me enough credit to say that you should expect nothing other than quality words of wisdom about this great fact of life: self-pity.

As the title states, one of our greatest games as human beings is loving to pity…ourselves.

We love to feel sorry for ourselves because, in its own, twisted way, pity somehow makes us validate our fears.

Regretful because you never took that trip to Europe that you and your best friend pledged to take since you were teeny-boppers in middle school? Well, have a nice seat (or fetal pose, whichever is most comfortable for you) on the sofa, grab your computer and pine over the artsy shots of Versailles you found on Pinterest. Because even if you didn’t make it, you can still blame the lack of money, time and basically anything but your own unwillingness to come out of the comfort zone and take a leap.

As humans, we are constantly seeking “the thrill”.

We crave adventure; a way to feel that we are somehow larger than our lives. That we have control and power over what happens to us.

When we experience regret and self-pity, we find the things that we have to feel regret over such as lost chances, ruined chances and other instances of that kind.

But there is more to it than just putting ourselves in a Debbie Downer mood. Allowing oneself to fall into the habit of self-pity allows for one of the greatest human vices to settle in: selfishness.

To put it as bluntly as possible,

“When we pity ourselves all we see is ourselves. When we have problems, all we see are our problems and that’s all what we love of talking about. We don’t see the good things in our lives.”
~ Ann Marie Aguilar

When all we do is selfishly think about ourselves and our problems, we are not only wounding ourselves—convincing ourselves that we are irresponsible, failures or even worthless—but we are also allowing a pit to open for even more negative thoughts to settle into.

Now, good reader, you are probably wondering what we can possibly to do about this fated problem. Rest assured, I have an answer to this question.

The simple treatment for a case of self-pity is gratitude.

In searching for the counter to self-pity, it has always been proven that stopping and recognizing what we have to be grateful for—what we have done with our lives, what we have to be proud of, what we have achieved—will go miles to help uplift us when the depression starts to settle in.

When we begin to battle the true root of our evil—selfishness—we can combat our fits of sadness.

Another point to make: forgiveness is key. Whether we need to forgive ourselves or others, it is a proven way for really, truly being free.

An example: you find yourself longing over that past lost love, wondering why it had to end, or why you couldn’t have it any longer. Be hardcore honest with yourself—first off, was it all really that wonderful? Or do you tend to dwell on all the good things you are missing out on? Maybe its time to remember the not-so-great parts and be grateful that you have the strength to let go of those things.

Once we can learn to forgive (and forget, in some cases!), we can finally begin to make peace with our poor, mistreated selves.

Now, I know that everyone needs a little down-in-the-dumps time every once in a while. After all, being able to feel is one of the components that makes us human. But we shouldn’t let our emotions get the most of us and control the happiness and contentment of our lives.

One last quote to close out:

“He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that—it didn’t work.”
~ Gary Paulsen, Hatchet



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Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo / Editor: Emma Ruffin

Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

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Gabriella Miller