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Self Pity vs. Relapse or Actual Problems

Discussion in 'General' started by batgirl, Mar 26, 2007.

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  1. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    How do you tell the difference between someone who is just feeling sorry for themselves, and someone who's in a lot of pain and/or is having a relapse? In yourself or others I guess...
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  3. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Good Question.

    Some thoughts....Is the question:

    Is someone relentlessly self-pitying for no reason other than to sit in it and refusing to try anyone's suggestions?


    Are they self-pitying because in all honesty, it's sh*t, they don't know what to do, and given some guidance they would try to change the situation? In this case, I guess it is like a relapse? Sometimes things are just too much, and a person is not capable at the time to do anything.

    In cases of self-pity it might not be the real issue - people need to look a little deeper. Motivation (conscious or not) might be the issue instead. Sometimes 'self-pity' is actually sitting down and reflecting on how bad a current situation is. Sometimes it's not being so hard on yourself, and taking time to identify the feelings.

    Sometimes, it is just lost desperation, or despair, or despondency.

    Sometimes it is habit, or avoidance of what needs to be addressed.

    Sometimes it is a form manipulation, or misguided belief that some sympathy would help. At times, a little identification and support is helpful, but 'self-pitying' to me is when it becomes an automatic reaction that a person gets stuck in. If a person is trying to help themselves, then it's a bit different. But just simply sitting in self-pity is a circular, and unhealthy thought pattern that solves nothing.

    I think it takes looking at the whole situation of a person, asking if they have a right to feel the way they do, and if they are taking any opportunities to change the situation if they can to really identify the cause of it, which is more important. Everyone knows someone who, when an opportunity to a solution, or a move towards it is offered, a "yes but" is given back. Enough "yes buts" equal resistance to really try to change a situation, and in those cases it is pointless. Unless their "yes buts" warrant addressing also.

    MMm... i feel like I'm making no sense.... just tossing some thoughts around here I haven't properly thought this out.....

    I guess the important thing to identify is that at times it is important to identify your feelings, and how bad things can be. Sometimes, particularly in a long struggle like PTSD, exhaustion takes over.

    But somtimes a little self-identification is good - it takes that recognition to change something. Sometimes people are too harsh on themselves and won't allow ANYTHING that is near it, and sometimes people too often fall into the trap of feeling sorry for their situation which, without a motivation to try to change it, is effectively pointless and only more damaging.

    Okay I have rambled on here... mainly because used in the wrong place it can be a damaging thing to be told if it is not true. It's important not to belittle someone's problems, whilst at the same time pointing out that it is not helpful to do nothing and self pity. But I also see that sometimes it is entirely true, and needs to be said to kick someone out of it. It's important to understand the whole situation and try to see WHY someone is behaving in that way and how it can be changed, which is the best way forward in my eyes.

    With PTSD, I think relapses are to be expected. It's a particularly long and endless struggle for most. You can't expect to be on top of it all the time. The trick is if the 'self-pity' is relentless, or becomes resistance to face the real issues. Dunno... what do you reckon ?
    Kathy likes this.
  4. Jim

    Jim Well-Known Member

    Interesting thoughts Lisa. Very well done, glad you shared them. Would honestly love to see someone write an article in the information section about pitying oneself. Don't think such an article exists and it's an important subject I believe.

  5. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    Get Out the Reading Glasses... (giggling at myself)

    Mole hills are not mountains, [but mountains really are mountains.] Attitude is everything!

    If permitted, continuous true self-pity will render us a weakling.

    Self-pity is rebellion in disguise - a childish rebellion aginst God, (if one believes in God), people and circumstances.

    Self-pity is a lack of acceptance of circumstances as they are right now; feeling one is a victim of circumstances and hopeless.

    [Accept little (or only what you like), ......forgive no one, ......take no actions to create change in attitudes, concepts, outlooks, and stay fixed on self-pity. ......Do nothing to heal, to work, (...and I don't mean employment...I mean some form of work which most do) ..or do nothing to play, take some care of oneself, to rest and to suffer hard (when necessary) and one will wallow in their sorrows, for the rest of their lives.]

    Kill self-pity with appreciation and faith.

    Wow! Evie, did that one word 'Self-Pity' ever trigger me. In such a way that it motivated me. I went and got a little info., from a little book, buried in a little trunk on self-pity and quickly browsed it a little. LOL

    My two original responses up above I put in brackets. Both what I've read and have learned over the yrs., while applying sometimes successfully and other times failing to, inspired me to add my own 2 cents.

    One area I now frequently relapse into bouts of self-pity surrounds AA, and my relationship to it for the last 19yrs. Tonight though I'd rather not say anymore on that subject.

    However, I'm now left with two thoughts, one belongs in this thread. I want to thank you for the courage and esteem to bring up such a sensitive topic among PTSD sufferers.

    Now, Evie, I do hope you understand what I'm saying is truly a thank you, bc I personally need to sustain my guard against it, as it almost killed me yrs. ago and I certainly don't want it to infiltrate my life now, while I'm in a process of exposing my trauma and story.

    My next thought is a sincere, and most embarrassing question for me which I really don't know whom to ask.

    Well, have a goodnight Evie, and Jim I too hope someone writes and article or posts helpful material on self-pitying in the info. section. This subject can certainly be a tough and most sensitive one though. The way I like to look at self-pity (mine or others) is in facts, neither a good nor bad characteristic, simply a characteristic that weakens, hinders, harms, destroys, and sometimes more. I like to look at it as in need of correcting for more positive results and not in need of judgement or withdrawal.

    What can conquer it is self-acceptance (no matter what shape we're currently in), gratitude, appreciation and faith.

    :smile: p.s. Evie, I've saved the best for last.:crazy-eye In answering your question, IMHO, I don't think anyone can ever determine for sure what's self-pity in another or not, or something different, unless of course it's a blatant, patterned response, or you know and live with the person. And, if not then you know the person's full story and hold the full picture before you, (past and present). The real deal.

    As far as spotting it in ourselves, well some quick self-eval. and Honesty answers that for us.

    Did I not say I was triggered...:rofl: :rofl:...LOL and Peace!

    - neutral Hope
  6. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Thanks for the great answers Lisa and Hope. I really want to give a detailed response but I'm dead tired at the moment. I promise to respond tomorrow. Thanks again, really wicked answers!!
  7. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Hey Hope that was a wicked response, and articulates what I was trying to say better than I did!!

    big up, I second it!

    By the way, what is IMHO? I keep seeing it everywhere on these boards?!
  8. willing

    willing Active Member

    If you are talking about yourself then only you know. Truly I think we all have self pity and I am constantly beating myself up for my narcissistic ways. But now I am seeing that my early childhood trauma has made me that way because everything in my life at the time revolved around me. Most times it is just being able to share the feelings of shame and embarassement that gets me in to thinking about my solution instead of the problem.

    If someone else is or not, even though I love to judge, really isn't for me to decide. I give 100% without expectation of changing someone and the rewards are much free, clear and rewarding...to me. It's like loaning money to someone. I only loan money on two conditions... I know I won't get it back and that I have no expectation on how it will be used. Grocery money may have to go to pay another debt.
  9. batgirl

    batgirl I'm a VIP

    Wow, thanks again for the replies. Lisa, IMHO stands for "in my humble opinion".

    Perhaps I should clarify a bit... the question was mainly a general one, not completely relating to any situation specifically. There's been a few different situations, but it's mostly just something I'm pondering in general. I personally have trouble distinguishing between what is self-pity and what isn't, especially in myself. I fortunately have my family to point things out to me, and they are mostly correct, but there have been times when they've kicked me in the ass when they actually shouldn't have. Not complaining about that really, no one is perfect, just saying it's difficult to tell what's what sometimes. Also on this board... sometimes I read someone's post and I feel badly for them, then everyone else tells them to quit whining! Other times I think someone is whining but it turns out they have a legitimate problem and everyone is sympathetic. I guess I'm saying it confuses me, and I don't know how to respond. I tend to avoid those threads. Patty, I think you hit it on the head about not judging. I have no desire to judge really, just sometimes I judge anyways, in my mind, whether I mean to or not.

    Lisa you made many excellent points, which just proves to me all the more what a complicated question it is! You made a lot of sense actually. I love your quote about self-pity being a circular pattern that solves nothing. I guess in that respect, one way to tell if you are in self-pity or not is by your progress. Obviously a chronically self-pitying person isn't going to get very far. But you are also correct in that it could be despair, deep depression, etc, which could be very difficult to get out of even if people point it out to you. Then again, that happened to me a while back while I was in hospital after my last surgery. A nurse yelled at me and really upset me, and I went into this state of total despondency where I didn't talk to anyone for a couple of days. I was really out of it. Then Anthony told me I was acting like my dad. OMG. Did I ever snap out of that mood fast!! So in that case, having it pointed out was the best thing for me.

    The "yes but" is a good point too... if I'm saying that to people it's usually because I don't want to face my problems.

    Actually Lisa I don't think you're rambling at all here, or at least if you are you ramble in the same manner as I do! ;) You've pretty much summed up what I'm feeling and thinking in that paragraph. I don't know, maybe I'm just thinking too much in general and should give my mind a break now and then!

    Hope, thanks so much for your comments as well. I especially like your comment in brackets. It makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. Basically, "By their fruits you shall know them"... err, I can't believe I'm quoting the bible... I'm not religious at all... but there are some good quotes in the bible nonetheless. They pop into my head from time to time.

    Sorry about the trigger, but wow I'm glad if it motivated you. That's great. I think I know what you mean in a way. People can cruelly say "quit feeling sorry for yourself" when one is having an actual legitimate problem, as a means of dismissing or minimizing. I hope that's not how my question has come across as it's not what I'm meaning at all.

    I really understand what you mean here too. Last night I was thinking about people stuck in a morass of self-pity, examples of people I've noticed doing that, plus remembering myself at those times. And it suddenly occurred to me that if I don't constantly work on myself, I could very easily slip into a state like that and not be able to get out. I imagined myself 10 years from now, with no progress having been made, and rather a regression. It scared the shit out of me!! One important thing I think I'm learning from watching others in self-pity is how not to be, and how I don't my life to be. You can learn something from anyone or anything I guess.

    What was that question or thought? Did you edit it out? Don't worry if you did, no problem, I just don't see it here and I read your post over several times.

    I think Uncle hopes I will write the article. :rolleyes: Honestly I don't know what I'd say though. Maybe I would just write the means to avoid self-pity, as I do have some experience with that aspect. But I'm no expert by any means.

    Anyways thanks so much again everyone. A lot of things for me to think about, I appreciate it!
  10. Marilyn_S

    Marilyn_S Well-Known Member

    Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 10th Ed. defines the word (PITY) in two ways. One must also take into consideration there are connotative (perceived) definitions and there are denotative (literal) definitions. Society creates connotation.

    "1.) sympathetic sorrow for one who is suffering, in distress, or unhappiness."
    "2.) Something to be regretted. as in (Its a _____pity you can't go.)"

    When you put self with pity it is a very lonely place to be. It means the only person one trusts to empathize with his/her despair is his/her self. Self pity is an untrusting cry to be heard and understood.

    The following is a quote of mine. Not that I'm all wise or anything but shucks my brain matter does work sometimes! lol!

    "Self pity is the pablum of personal growth in that it only nourishes the soul with a static state of maintenance rather than a dynamic state of progressive personal growth."

    In other words, when one has self pity he/she gets so stuck with the sounds inside his/her own head it is difficult to hear the support, advise, and caring of others.
  11. waynes

    waynes Member

    Self compassion...The alturnitive

    This is an abstract from a journal called Self and Identity.

    This looks to me to be a real healthy way to try to heal!



    This article defines and examines the construct of self-compassion. Self-compassion entails three main components: (a) self-kindness--being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical, (b) common humanity--perceiving one's experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as separating and isolating, and (c) mindfulness--holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them. Self-compassion is an emotionally positive self-attitude that should protect against the negative consequences of self-judgment, isolation, and rumination (such as depression). Because of its non-evaluative and interconnected nature, it should also counter the tendencies towards narcissism, self-centeredness, and downward social comparison that have been associated with attempts to maintain self-esteem. The relation of self-compassion to other psychological constructs is examined, its links to psychological functioning are explored, and potential group differences in self-compassion are discussed

    I'd kinda like to learn more. Anybody know about this concept?

    Some thing to think about.....

  12. Jim

    Jim Well-Known Member

    Haven't heard of it Wayne, but most definitely I believe in being positive about oneself, and kind to oneself. Being unkind to oneself is a form of self-pity in my opinion, and a very insidious one at that. Never let my children talk badly about themselves. Very strict about it.

    Rather blunt by nature, and am blunt with Evie when I feel she is off track. However. I try to convey it from a place of love and care, and believe she sees that. Agreed, things needn't be said in an abrasive and unkind manner.

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