The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines self-pity as: a feeling of pity for yourself because you believe you have suffered more than is fair or reasonable. Well, I present to you that it’s more than that. Not only is it more than that, but it’s also not that black and white. I personally have a problem when someone tells another person to stop feeling sorry for themselves. It’s been in my experience that when a person feels sorry for themselves, aka self pity, that usually means that they are expressing how they are feeling about an unfair situation that has happened to them BUT with the intention of illiciting a particular reaction from their listening audience: sympathy, sorrow, etc. To me, that’s what self-pity is. I say this because for me, the fact of the matter is that while I take responsibility for my choices and behaviors in my life, I can also trace back to a point of why I do the things that I do and where my faulty mindset all began. Unfortunately there are those that will mistake this as placing blame and wallowing in self-pity. No. These are just facts about myself and when I talk about them, I’m not expecting others to feel sorry for me or to cut me any slack. There is a difference between expecting a reaction that will support the wallowing vs a person truly believing that as their reality due to issues, dysfunctions, etc.
I’m a logical, rational, connect the dots type of thinker. A lot of people have dysfunctional mindsets and for some you can’t just tell them to stop feeling sorry for themselves or simply tell them that they have a choice and that they have to take responsibility for their own behavior. That may be ultimately true to some extent but not only is it not that simple, but there’s a process in getting to that point. For some, this mindset, this way of thinking, is all that they know. To tell somebody to stop feeling sorry for themselves and in the same sentence also tell them what they need to start doing as a solution to stopping this “self pity” is a little passive aggressive in my opinion and can definitely bring on a defense mechanism, which is counterproductive and not a good motivator at all! People shut down when they think you’re attacking them. Everyone is unique. Those who meet the criteria I just talked about and who really do feel sorry for themselves because they blame others, constantly paint themselves as a victim and rarely look at the part they play in their misfortune are the ones who really do need to hear “stop it! take responsibility and change what’s within your power!” but those who come from a place of truly internalizing and/or personalizing every negative thing that happens to them because of faulty belief systems from a young age, well I believe they need to hear something different other than “stop feeling sorry for yourself”.
So I present to you, that self-pity is not just black and white. It’s your mindset, it’s your beliefs, it’s your expectations, and it’s your come from in addition to the words that you speak.