The Buddha taught there is no one more deserving of compassion than you. More recently, acupuncturist Barbara Sullivan said, “Self-pity is like self-comfort.” Not only can it be OK, it may be beneficial.
Self-pity has gotten a bad rap. There are times when feeling sorry for yourself opens the floodgates and lets all your sadness pour forth. This emotional cleansing detoxifies your bodymind, moving you along your healing journey, helping you evolve.
Self-pity can be a conduit to compassion, encouraging you to be more gentle, understanding, and patient with your unique process of letting go. Feeling sorry for yourself is appropriate during divorce, grave illness, death of a loved one, and any other time you experience it. Telling yourself what you’re feeling is wrong is the ultimate put-down. If you trust the process, i.e. your bodymind’s way of presenting you with something useful, even if seems hurtful or worthless, you will embrace whatever comes up. Milton Erickson, MD, the famous hypnotherapist, believed your unconscious mind is always protecting you. By extension, anything that emerges, especially during stressful times, is there to ultimately help you. You would feel sad for someone else going through a stormy time. Don’t you deserve the same tenderness?
Perhaps, the legacy of our country’s Calvinist background is to blame for the extreme negative cultural reaction to self-pity. But, it is time to re-think this concept. What is the worst thing that can happen if you feel sorry for yourself? You won’t count all your blessings? You will take the still-good things in your life for granted? What if you do? Is it likely you’ll remain mired in self-pity the rest of your life? No. You will feel sorry for yourself until, one day, you’re done and it’s time to move forward.
Self-pity might provide a psychic buffer zone, allowing more time to heal. What may look like emotional self-indulgence could be a break from the litany of “shoulds” and adult responsibilities you’re shouldering. You may benefit greatly from time spent acknowledging the enormity of your situation, with all its challenges and opportunities. What looks like self-pity may actually be a path to self-compassion.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang