Saturday, July 14, 2012

Self-pity: a bane or a boon

How often have you been told, not to wallow in self pity?
You pity yourself, your situations in life, your traumas, your failures in life, your disappointments etc. You may not even be confiding  your disappointments in life to others, maybe just grumbling within yourself, and if you are grumbling within people's earshot, why should any one pounce on you and start advising that self pity is not going to solve your problem?
I personally feel that self pity is the most important  and natural feeling in a person's life, for while you are feeling sad for yourself and thinking, and crying, it kind of purges you of all the negativity that has been building inside of you.  After a good cry over your problems you feel totally relaxed and totally empty of any signs of depression, as self pity makes you take stock of your life, makes you analyse the mistakes that could have been averted by you, and a sense of enlightenment, no  less than what Gautama Buddha achieved under the Bodhi Tree dawns upon you.
Tell me, did you not feel good after a good cry?
It is good to  release all the pent up emotions, and finally feel free. However, you will find people looking down at you for indulging in this behavior, and making you feel more depressed and making your confidence level go down further, and would even say that you are very low in self esteem.
We Indians don't need psychologists/ psychiatrists to show us the way, for we ourselves have this gift of looking at the pros and cons of our situations, and "drowning in self pity" as they refer to it, is the very beginning of doing it. It is almost like a meditation, after you finish your crying session you feel totally grounded and know exactly what  has to be done. It is your conversation with yourself.
For you alone know, what is affecting you, no outsider can ever know your situation better than you, for your pain is your very own and the medicine for healing that pain too is right within you. You may go and waste hard earned money on psychiatrists who would fleece you by the hour, but, the options shown by him/ her has already been explored by you, and you realize that the solution to your problem does not lie elsewhere, but is right within you.
From my own experience, I would say self pity has enhanced me, made me a better person, more analytical, more composed, more matured, more stronger, and I have emerged out of many a difficult situation in life wonderfully. It never bothered me, what opinion people had of me or of my indulgence in self pity, for I knew it was god sent, and I had  nothing to feel ashamed of indulging in it, whenever the need arose in my life. In fact the need becomes lesser and lesser, as you master the art of taking control of your life: becoming the master of your own destiny.
It is not like a drug, that you might get addicted, or something that might drag you into deeper and deeper depression, or any kind of mental illness. In fact,  it is an elixir of life, which can bring you out of all these problems, and make you appreciate the positives in your life.
People make statements about "self pity", without understanding its true meaning. For to appreciate light one must experience darkness for  a while.
Everyone has a certain destination in life, but the path chosen by each of  us, need not be the same. It is better to let your guard down whenever you  feel like, rather than suppressing all your sadness and disappointments under the false garb of a seemingly tough person: who do you want to impress,  certainly not a bunch of people who would not lift a finger towards your upliftment,  for they themselves are a confused lot, not knowing right from wrong.
Do the thing that gives you most comfort, have a good cry, drown all you want in self pity, and see yourself coming out as a free and confident person, full of energy, ready to tackle anything in life with a big smile. Also remember, tears are good for the eyes, they are good moisturiser for your eyes, you would never suffer from dry eye syndrome and may never have to use Artificial Tear Drops. Let the natural tears flow and show you the right  path to choose.
While reading about the topic " Self pity", and about how people have conditioned their minds against this natural emotion, made me write this. I feel people should come out of this wrong belief and let their inner sense guide them from darkness to clarity, let the tears of self pity wash away the various emotional blockages and help them come out feeling totally free.
So what's your take, let me know: Self pity: is it a good and healthy therapy or not?


  1. Rama, always good to read your posts! I can't even imagine you without that trademark smile!
    Not much room for self pity there!

  2. According to me, self pity is ok as long as you have the strength to come out of it but it should'nt drown a person into depression or make one a pessimist.

    Definitely crying is not a sign of weakness, infact traditionally they say men don't cry or stronger girls don't cry. I think you have to let out your feelings either talk it out or cry till you feel better.

  3. Hi Rama - I suppose for me the key phrase is 'wallowing' in self-pity. You are absolutely right, what is called self-pity can actually be insight. In other words if you examine what you are doing and thinking and that leads perhaps to change and self-realisation that is a good thing. But the danger is wallowing. Self-pity can simply lead to standing still if the self-pitier feels that the world owes them something. Grot happens, so by all means I think we can indulge in a modicum of self-pity but then we have to get up, dust ourselves off and get on with all the wonderful things life has to offer. Great post!

  4. Self pity is normal cos we cant deny or close our eyes for negativ things that happen to us.
    Im an easy crier and i must say It helps. And i have the experience when i have things i can handlea and a friend has the same Crying together helps also. Its double cure.
    Tx for the wise words Rama

    1. Thanks Marijke.
      How are you, it has been so long
      I keep thinking of you often.

  5. To Cara Cooper, and Asha:
    Wallowing in self pity itself means: to become or remain helpless, allowing ourselves to wallow in our ignorance, and from this mindless ignorance comes enlightenment. So unless we allow ourselves to be in that state of mind, I don't think we can (let me quote you here)"get up, dust ourselves and get on with the wonderful things life has to offer".
    I am glad you understand it to some extent, and that itself shows people can see things from a different perspective.
    It gives us the opportunity to first think that the world owes us something, we become mad at the world/ Universe, however, this feeling is temporary, for we soon realize that nobody owes us anything, we are what we are, what we experience is what we have attracted towards us, and thus we see that we can attract good experiences in our life, by just changing our attitude. However, to get to that state of mind or awareness one has to emerge cleansed through the medium of self pity.
    This was what I learned many years ago, while going through a book called "Abundance through Reiki", by Paula Horan. It is a very good book, and is based on he teachings of Ramana Maharishi. Read it if you can.
    Thank you.

  6. An interesting perspoective, and not one I've come across before, so thanks. I like reading blogs that make me think. Still thinking...... x

  7. A good cry is a good healer..definitely! It has worked out wonders for me too! I haven't really tried out self pity. When I am down, I have a conversation with myself as to why me, what went wrong. But I often come out of them very quickly. I don't know why!

  8. That, " why me" question and the crying for yourself, your situation is what is self pity is all about, and the conversation with yourself is the resolution, the route to freedom.

  9. Wonderful question.To me, self pity is the best way to introspect one's life and also to come out of tough situations. I always love the bathroom treatment- open the taps, bawl, wash your face and come out fresh:P

  10. Everything in moderation works for me. Same with self pity. The severity of the situation drives the degree of self pity.

  11. Anil commented:

    I guess that the catch phrase here ," wallowing in self pity".I think you are perhaps confusing self introspection with self pity.
    Generally self pity is considered negative, harrowing to ones confidence and a way to lose self respect.

    Self pity is a state of mind when people stubbornly believe that the whole world conspired or is conspiring against them and life has been grossly unfair. The game of blaming is deep within. don't you think so?

    It may be comforting to ones psyche but that is a negative way. Whereas self introspection is analytical and may even help in seeking advise to ones predicament.
    I'm unlucky, I'm denied, I'm useless etc etc are the self pity catch words.

    I agree with shedding tears , sometimes it is really necessary to release ones emotions , alone or to a confident and tears wash out lot of stuff.

    1. Anil:
      First we have to re- examine the meaning of "wallowing",get past the negativity associated with that word, and also know that there are no negatives in life, for every negative thing can be turned to positive. The same goes for self pity and self love too. We need to re- learn the meaning of these emotions to reap positive results out of them. We should not shun indulging in an emotion, that has been incorrectly condemned by a vast majority of people. We must learn to break out from this cycle of incorrect conditioning, and take advantage of these emotions which are all very natural in all human beings,
      And the so called'wallowing in self pity',is the only route to come out of the mess, and enter the route of self introspection.
      There is no confusion at all if you can just shift your understanding of this phrase.
      It is a vital tool, and unless you experience it fully, you would not find the key to your self evolvement, to come out of the game of blaming others for your own failures, to turn negatives into positives.
      You would always find psychologists/ doctors, asking patients to go through the all the things that the patient think is wrong with the world, with their situations etc, not leaving anything untouched, and after the patients go through this exercise, the patients are asked, how they felt after all the rantings, well the answer would inevitably be:"I am relieved, now I know what has to be done, I can take charge of my life, I feel so stupid blaming the whole world for my problems."
      Here it is also important to know, that shedding or not shedding tears is not relevant,it is the break through you get, that is important.
      My intention for bringing up this matter was to bring awareness, and encourage people to think differently, and to make full use of this emotion as therapy, instead of shunning it because of the bad name it has acquired over the years.
      Of course it may happen to a person in just a few minutes of wallowing in self pity, while for some it may take time, but one thing is for sure nobody can be stuck forever in this state.
      Thanks for your view point.

  12. Thanks Rama, for this perspective , which I never thought of even once so far, Yes crying sessions have left me guilty only few times, though as you said, they have enhanced my strength most of the times and I have got several breakthroughs. Beautiful post Rama.

    1. I think because we are women we can easily understand the meaning for we are naturally very sensitive, and once we know, we are willing to use it and benefit from it. Anything that has the potential to empower us positively has to be very good.
      Thanks for understanding it.

  13. Agree. Though I wouldn't want to think of it as self-pity, I certainly would revisit situations or problems once I'm through, from a more mature or deeper perspective, and get over it a stronger woman.

    The major discontent (or self pity, as you say) I have of myself is that I am sometimes way too short-tempered with people I love and tend to hurt them for even the silliest of reasons. It's funny when I think over it, because unless you are in my closest circle, you would think I'm the most patient of people, always kind and gentle. But if my kids catch me at a wrong moment (when I'm in the middle of work or they do something they're not supposed to), I explode before I know it, then regret. And with the damage being done, I realize there would be no replay, where I could have dealt with the same issue in a more mature manner.

    There, I hope this self-pity (a confession of sorts) redeems me of my evil :)

    1. Yes RGB, we lose our temper especially when our children are very young, and we are also inexperienced and we have thousands of things to think about. The anger, resentment we feel towards them are all natural,(the feeling that the whole world is plotting against us)however, when we feel so depressed and go to our room and burst out, letting everything flow out , suddenly,the image of the lovely face of our child comes in front of us, and immediately we feel so silly to have lost our temper at the child. So from there we are able to forgive ourselves and move on to become more understanding and tolerant person. It is true one cannot achieve it in a day, but as we keep releasing all these negative feelings we would find ourselves becoming more calm and collected.
      You would have noticed how calmly the grand parents handle the same situation, it only shows that they have gone through the same thing with their children, only now they are able to handle it better for their perspectives have changed.
      But I am sure you won't have to wait till you become a grandmother, for you are smart, and you have the key to the problem, right inside you.

  14. Self-pity might happen sometimes but is not desirable. Introspection definitely is!

    1. Self- pity might not be desirable, but when it takes place, it can be certainly used in a positive way.

  15. Having a good cry can release pent up emotions but wallowing in self pity is not really desirable:)Each person has his/ her own coping mechanism!

  16. Yes, each person has their own interpretation too about this emotion, some can condition themselves to look at it negatively while some can think of it as positive outlet

  17. I also feel that it is a balancing mechanism. Crying out does help. Some people are endowed with an ability to contain it but then they are harming themselves. I am a very sentimental person prone to shed tears even when I read a pathetic story. Could be a disorder!

  18. I have wallowed in self-pity for a long time and I have come out of it as well..Sometimes,I used to wallow in self-pity for a longer time than what I would consider appropriate now..It is important to come out of it stronger,with a clear mind. In hindsight, I can say that it didnt happen with me at times..Meaning, I used to wallow so much that only boredom of being in that state would pull me out of that state and not coming out with a clear mind and thoughts which would have been good..So, on the lines of what you've mentioned in "drown all you want in self pity, and see yourself coming out as a free and confident person, full of energy, ready to tackle anything in life with a big smile. " it is important that one comes out of it as a stronger and confident person. If not, self pity is not of much use..
    On tears, its like a comfort food..What a relief it is once all the pent up emotions come out as tears..Now, the well can be filled again :) And yeah..tears are good for the eyes too scientifically :)

    Varamahalakshmi wishes to you :)

    1. Thanks SM. I think as we grow older we understand this emotion better and are able to come out of it much more refreshed, and mentally and physically we gain lot of confidence. If we let our mind think that it something we should be ashamed of, we will never be able to come out of it, in a positive way. I am really happy to see a frank reply from you.
      Thanks for your Varalakhmi wishes.

  19. Hello Rama,

    Greetings and good wishes.

    Very interesting post. Although I wouldn't like to indulge is self pity since it depresses me and makes me feel totally helpless, yet I find sometimes when faced with set backs in life I automatically plunge into self pity and feel sorry for myself. It is very painful when I get into the depths of despair and blame my self for many things which I have done in the past in good faith. But this sort of self recrimination doesn't last long and I get out of it slowly but gradually and tell my self that whatever happened is for good and I will survive the crisis. Soon I find myself lifted out of self pity and ready to face the situation with some confidence. Self pity does help in regaining the mental strength needed to face difficult situations.

    Very interesting post and you have given a lot of thought on the subject.

    Best wishes,

    1. Nobody likes to indulge in it, but we find ourselves go there again and again, blaming everybody, and everything for our misfortunes/ our failures. it kind of pushes us to the lowest pit of hell, but when it is over, we spring out of it, and feel free, with the realization that, nobody is to blame for anything that has happened or not happened in our lives, and change our perception of the situations.
      It is a fact that many of us come out of it with the right kind of attitude to face the situations with a new found confidence.
      Thank you Joseph for your views.

  20. From time to time it surely is. But I don't like to abuse of this method. I like to take action, and try to solve the problem that makes my sad.