All self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously. – Tom Robbins
Of all human habits, chronic self-pity is perhaps the most unhealthy. Why?
Self-pity is like a psychic bloodsucker that drains away from our hope, happiness, gratitude, and good humor.
Self-pity fuels depression, constant anxiety, and feelings of emptiness and isolation.
While self-pity is totally normal and we all pity ourselves from time to time, it can become like a virus in our minds when turned into an unconscious habit.
What is Self-Pity?
Self-pity is an exaggerated sense of pity over one’s own life, position or circumstance. Most of us experience self-pity throughout our lifetimes, and although it can be a self-soothing mechanism that assists us in later accepting/changing our circumstances, sometimes it can stick to us like a psychic leech.
When self-pity is made into a habit, it not only stunts our self-worth, but it also creates self-destructive cycles of self-sabotage. We have an article on the psychology of why misery can make you happy, which can help you understand why self-pity can become so tempting to hold onto.
11 Signs of Self-Pity
Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.
~ Helen Keller
Common signs of a person given to harboring too much self-pity include:
1) You find it hard to laugh at life and at yourself
Taking yourself too seriously and finding it difficult to laugh at your predicaments and defeats are tell-tale signs of self-pity.
2) You tend to crave for drama
You have a melodramatic streak that stems from extremist types of thinking (e.g., black-and-white + all-or-nothing mindsets).
3) You tend to crave for sympathy
Self-pity is so addictive because it gives us the momentary pleasure of being supported, cared for, and emotionally pampered. Unfortunately, this is an unhealthy way of developing emotional bonds and connections with other people.
4) You tend to be an individualist
Self-pity is one of the most effective ways of keeping yourself separate and independent from the friends, family, and people around you.
5) You tend to be a past-orientated person
Some people live in the present, others live in the future, and still, others live in the past. Self-pity is closely linked to past-focused mindsets that dwell on events that happened a while ago.
6) You have low self-esteem
People with low self-esteem tend to crave the acceptance and affection of other people as a way of feeling better about themselves. The presentation of having a “tragic life story” that self-pitying people often talk a lot about creates an excellent way of collecting flocks of supporters.
7) You have a melancholic temperament
I’ve written about the melancholic, sanguine, choleric, and phlegmatic temperaments before. The melancholic temperament, in particular, is given to bouts of brooding and deep introspection, which can serve as a perfect breeding ground for self-pity.
8) Deep down, you don’t believe you’re worthy of love
This stems from low self-esteem and creates a cycle of self-destructive behavior. Self-pity is one of the greatest tools for the self-destructive person. It creates self-fulfilling prophecies and alienates all the people you love and admire from you.
9) You have an unhealthy habit of being self-absorbed
Quite simply, the more self-absorbed you are, the more likely you are of falling into the trap of self-pity.
10) You have a strong fighting instinct
Having a strong fighting instinct can be a good or bad thing depending on what you choose to use it for. When used in a negative sense, the fighting instinct is used to battle against life, fight against the tide, and fight against accepting reality.
11) You subconsciously feel guilty
Often, self-pity is an unconscious way of avoiding taking responsibility for personal actions or decisions made in the past. When we find it too difficult to accept the wrong that we’ve committed, sometimes we tend to hide from it by making ourselves the victims, rather than other people. In this case, self-pity is the perfect self-defense mechanism.