Why Mentally Strong People Don’t Dwell on Self-Pity

Here's what you can do instead.

Posted May 05, 2015

ARENA Creative/Shutterstock
Source: ARENA Creative/Shutterstock

Asking, “Why do these things always happen to me?” or declaring, “This isn’t fair!” is a common first line of defense when faced with hardship. If you struggle to move beyond those initial reactions, however, you risk staying stuck in an unhealthy cycle of self-pity.

Feeling sorry for yourself is one of the fastest way to deplete your mental strength. It is impossible to be mentally strong while simultaneously insisting, “I can’t handle this.” Happily, you can put an end to self-pity before your thoughts and emotions sabotage your efforts to move forward.

The Dangers of Self-Pity

While it is normal to feel sad when faced with difficult circumstances, self-indulgent pity goes above and beyond grief, frustration, or heartbreak and becomes self-destructive. Self-pity distracts you from dealing with your emotions head-on and prevents you from taking positive action.

Self-pity also creates a negative downward spiral. When you focus on everything that is going wrong, your thoughts become exaggeratedly negative. Those negative thoughts will negatively affect your behavior. You will be less likely to take steps to improve your situation when you are busy thinking about the unfairness of your situation. This inactivity will fuel your feelings of self-pity and the cycle will continue.

You only have so much time and energy. Devoting those finite resources toward self-pity means you are unable to use them for more productive activities. Every minute you spend dwelling on self-pity is 60 seconds you delay working on a solution.

If you are prone to feeling sorry for yourself, take steps to ward off self-pity. If you want to change how you feel, change how you think and behave. For tips on how to avoid wasting time on self-pity, watch the video below.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, a bestselling book that is being published in more than 20 languages.