How to Break Free When You’re Trapped by Self-Pity

· February 6, 2017
Sometimes we're not victims of our circumstances or other people, but of ourselves. Learn to overcome your damaging self-pity and move forward.

Everyone, at some point, has felt like they were a victim of their circumstances. Everything seems to be going wrong, the world seems to be against you and you can’t move forward. When this happens, you might be drowning in self-pity.

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Self-pity is nothing more than feeling sorry for yourself. In other words, it’s a state in which you focus on what has made you feel bad.

The worst thing is that this self-pity makes it difficult to overcome our circumstances. Situations begin to define us. We don’t deal with them, but instead, allow them to do more and more harm.

Self-pity and Victimizing Yourself

We’ve all learned to feel sorry for ourselves since we were children, but when have we been taught to solve problems effectively? Probably never.

Young woman walking in the rain without umbrella self-pity

We still continue to face situations without having proper coping techniques, so everything becomes a continuous trial and error.

But how does the role of playing the victim develop? You’ve probably identified with some of the following situations at one moment or another:

  • Being vulnerable and dependent: We’ve depended on our parents since we were children, and we may have depended on our partner, depending on our circumstances. We learned to leave our happiness in the hands of others and this has made us vulnerable and can turn us into victims.
  • Our parents may have pitied us: Your parents might have said something like this to you as a child: “Oh, poor thing,” “What’s happening to you is so unfair,” or “There’s always something wrong with you.” After a while, you’ll start to direct these comments to yourself, too.
  • You have been a real victim: The abuse, harassment, physical or psychological mistreatment that you have experience may have caused you to become a real victim. These types of traumatic experiences have had a very big impact on your life that will always be with you.

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Suffering from other childhood problems such as an unstable family structure can also influence our self-pity.

As you can see, what happens to us as a child affects us when we’re adults.

Heart drawn in red on mirror self-pity

The Selfishness of Self-pity

Regardless of what may have caused you to become a self-pitying person today, the reality is that it’s unfair to others.

Self-pity prevents us from thinking about others. We just look out for ourselves. We walk straight towards our problems and we never look up. When we get to our destination we cry, mourn, and complain.

Sometimes self-pity causes us to be unaware that we’ve made a mistake. The self-pitying person will always be seen as a victim in any type of relationship, whether or not she or he is to blame.

This repels others because self-pitying people don’t look beyond their own lives to empathize with others.

Woman drawing with eyes covered by hand self-pity

You may not be aware that you may be a victim of yourself. You’ve wrapped yourself in a sea of tears that you’ve created because you may actually want to feel like this.

There are people who like to complain and whine about everything. This is a negative habit acquired thanks to the incredible benefit they get from others: attention.

Love Yourself More

You’ve had low self-esteem for so long that you’ve forgotten how to do something very important: to love and value yourself.

You’re not a victim of your circumstances; nothing that happened to you was on purpose. Sometimes we make mistakes and everything goes wrong – this is normal! However, mistakes allow us to learn.

Other times, things just happen. For instance, getting sick, ending a relationship, experiencing financial problems, or getting fired are circumstances that we can’t control.

This doesn’t mean that we’re victims.

Woman hugging herself self love black white self-pity

Break Free of the Cycle to Move Forward

You can change your situation if you want to. You just have to be brave, confront the problem that’s bothering you, and face it head on! You’re afraid and feel like a victim. Self-pity is much simpler, but also much more cowardly.

Are you concerned that you feel sorry for yourself all the time? If so, ask yourself why you don’t mind pitying yourself so much.

You have the power to walk forward, but you remain in limbo. You can break free from this limbo by letting your go of self-pity.

Sometimes we’re not victims of our circumstances or other people, but of ourselves.

  • Stöber, J. (2003). Self‐pity: Exploring the links to personality, control beliefs, and anger. Journal of personality71(2), 183-220.
  • Milrod, D. (1972). Self-pity, self-comforting, and the superego. The psychoanalytic study of the child27(1), 505-528.