Most people experience self-pity (a sense of negativity and despair about our life circumstances) from time to time. But especially for those in active addiction (or attempting to maintain recovery), self-pity can become a slippery slope, feeding upon itself until it becomes a detrimental pattern that invites a drink or drug “to numb the pain.”
Wallowing in self-pity has the tendency to
- warp your perspective. (“Why do only bad things happen to me?”)
- increase a sense of loneliness and isolation. (“Nobody else feels this way.”)
- promote feelings of hopelessness and despair. (“I’ll never feel better.”)
- reinforce a sense of helplessness.(“I can’t handle this situation.”)
Awareness of a personal tendency to flail in the quicksand of self-pity is the first step in squashing this harmful pattern. (If you’re in recovery and have begun working the 12 steps, Step Four will have helped you detect this defect of character.) Next, we suggest trying the following strategies:
- Get busy helping someone else with their problems (volunteer, call a friend in need, etc.). Self-pity is, well, egocentric. A powerful antidote is to focus on others instead.
- Kick-start your self-compassion practice. This is about acknowledging your feelings and common humanity and then treating yourself with kindness.
- Tackle negative thinking to gain a fresh perspective. Conquering unhelpful thinking can lead to improved mood and overall mental health.
- Practice an attitude of gratitude. Research suggests that numerous benefits result from learning to see the glass as half full.
- Attend a 12-step meeting. Hearing about the experience, strength and hope of others in your situation can be inspiring and motivating.
- Call a sponsor, friend or support group member. Remember that this is to gain a more objective view of your situation and not to over-indulge in venting/obsessing.
It can be easy to fall prey to self-pity, but the strategies above can help prevent it from becoming a habit.
If you’re in need of addiction treatment, First Step Recovery can help. Contact us today at 330.369.8022!