What is self-pity and why is it so important to practice it?

What is self-pity and why is it so important to practice it?

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Imagine that a friend tells you, with great disappointment, that he has failed in a very important job interview, an interview for which he had been preparing for a long time but that he has erred because of the nerves. What do you think you would say? Surely he was not very hard on himself and that he will succeed in the future. Or that it could have happened to anyone and that their personal worth is greater than an interview. What do you think you would say to yourself if the one who failed that important interview was you? Maybe you would spend days or weeks reviewing each failure, angry and disappointed with yourself and with a great feeling of frustration. Why are we understanding with others, but so hard on ourselves?


  • 1 Why do we need self-pity?
  • 2 How to practice self-pity
  • 3 Do not confuse healthy self-pity with victimhood

Why do we need self-pity?

We are used to self-demanding a level of perfection so unreal that we find it difficult to treat ourselves with indulgence and understanding. This is something we usually do when we comfort others who have problems, but rarely do with ourselves. We tend to punish ourselves when our circumstances are not satisfactory and to blame ourselves for every mistake made, even if they are common mistakes.

Practicing self-pity is beneficial psychologically and emotionally. Get our anxiety to decrease and our self-esteem to increase, as well as to manage to deal with problems better. It's about stop punishing ourselves and being kind to ourselves. To understand that we are human and that erring is part of our learning. This manages to reduce the negative feelings that lead to serious states such as depression.

How to practice self-pity

To practice self-pity is not enough to propose it, you also have to train. For this there are three main components that must be taken into account to achieve this beneficial state:

  • Practice goodness with yourself: It's about training to be kind to ourselves even when we tend to criticize ourselves the most. For example, when we have a problem we usually think of things like "why this happens to me, everyone else is happy except me." This type of negative thinking is a cognitive distortion that makes us see everything from an unrealistic and self-critical perspective. And if we change this type of automatic affirmations for others like "we all fail from time to time"? This can be achieved with techniques such as cognitive restructuring, which is based on changing the patterns of dysfunctional and automatic thoughts for more realistic and beneficial ones.
  • Face the problem: Avoiding or hiding problems makes us feel helpless in the circumstances and we blame ourselves in the long term for events that we dare not face. Some experts say that practicing mindfulness or mindfulness makes people focus on the here and now and stop avoiding what worries them.
  • Recognize our imperfections: We live in a competitive society where it sometimes seems that we are expected to give 100% in everything we do. This can be so established in our behavior that we are finally ourselves who demand absolute perfection. Something that is completely unrealizable. Being aware of it and accepting our limitations allows us to relax and feel good about ourselves even being imperfect.

Don't confuse healthy self-pity with victimhood

Self-pity, like many other psychological defense maneuvers, can have two faces. On the one hand, there is a type of self-pity with a tendency towards victimhood that can reach boycott positive feelings and realistic perspective of people. It is a constant and prolonged attitude in the time in which people blame any external factor without ever seeking their own responsibility in the problems and without trying to solve them, feeling a victim of the circumstances and looking at the world helplessly. This type of self-pity can be very detrimental to the self-esteem and well-being of some people, so, if presented, it may be necessary to work on it.

On the other hand, we find a necessary, healthy self-pity and that we must practice for our well-being. It is an act of caring for ourselves, a comprehensive attitude that makes us overcome difficulties with respect and personal affection. A way to combat feelings of guilt, frustration and emotional blockage due to a tendency to seek an almost unrealizable perfectionism.

Links of interest

The Power of Self-Compassion. Jason Marsh //

Give Yourself a Break: The Power of Self-Compassion. Serena Chen. //

4 ways to boost your self-compassion. //

How Self-Compassion Helps You Cope With the Ups and Downs of Life. Sherri Gordon //