Posted by: RealisticRecovery | April 1, 2009

Self-Pity: The Great Deceiver?

Here’s a great article from Chaz over at, his blog deals with recovery from “divorce, booze, drugs, depression”, four things I am dealing with personally. I like his slogan too: “Life gets better as we get better”. Check out his blog when you have time here.

The Great Deceiver?

If I were to choose only one thing that I would rid myself of in order to improve my life, I would choose self pity.  To me, this is the great deceiver of so many of us in recovery of any kind.

Self pity keeps us in a place of perpetual victimhood. Many never move beyond this place and stay stuck forever.  To me, it is the cornerstone of much of the negativity in our lives.

Why do we and so many remain stuck?  My take is that self pity is far more devious and invisible than most of us realize.  Speaking for myself, this is definitely the case.  I always thought that self pity only expressed itself when we uttered the words, “Poor me”.  Yet frankly, I have yet to meet the person who ever utter this expression.

More often than not, self pity expresses itself in thoughts or statements like:

“I don’t deserve this”.

“How could he/she?”.

“They can’t treat me like this or that”

“Look what they have”.

“Easy for you to say”.

“Ya but, if you had been through what I went through…”

And many, many others.  Many statements like these are not in and of them expressions of self pity if stated a finite number of times during the course of recovery.  Where the are firmly transformed into self pity is when their stating is prolonged or permanent.

This is my viewpoint because I have been there.  Truly, I do not feel I deserved a lot of what has happened in my life.  Certainly this is a statement that any of us could say.  What I feel now balances this fact is that life is full of injustices.  Nobody is immune.  So once the harm has happened, it is now my responsibility to myself and others in my life to get past it.  Heal and forgive to the best of my ability.

Self pity wants us to continually re-injure ourselves.  It wants us to to reopen a wound that someone else inflicted.

Another expression of self pity I recognize in my life is exaggeration or sarcasm.  Such as, “Nobody understands”.  Or, “You never listen to me”, or some other such overstatement of a simpler fact.  When we overstate with exaggeration or sarcasm, the overstatement usually points in the direction of our victimhood.

A complicating factor I have found with self pity that also helps us stay stuck is that it is often pointed out to us from a basis of shame.  Ever heard this one?  “Quit feeling sor damn sorry for yourself!”.  Or how about “Ohhh…. poooor youuuu”.  Did it make you feel any better about yourself so you could recognize and deal with your self pity or did it just make you feel like crap even more?  Then perhaps your self pity got ahold of this new injury and drove you deeper?  It certainly did for me.

There is no shame in self pity unless we knowingly choose to stay there.  It is a common mistake that the vast majority of us make.  We need help in recognizing it and choosing a better pathway.  Shaming or mocking someone out of it seldom works.

My observation of self and others I have been involved with…. the sooner we can recognize how we have woven self pity into our patterns of thinking and our self concept, the sooner we can deal with it in a healthy and effective manner.

This to me is such an essential building block of recovery.  It is also an essential building block for overcoming depression.

Its been working for me anyway.

Ciao.  Chaz.



  1. Glad this perspective is helpful. I like your site. See ya on the blogs.



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