is self pity always a bad thing?

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trappedinhell
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18 Aug 2011, 2:40 am

On another thread, a certain long time poster accused me of self pity and suggested I go to the Haven, where self pitying people can wallow. So I am taking her advice. She also suggested reasons why my problems cannot be serious. I grew tired of correcting her, and it only irritated her because in her world view my problems must be easy to solve, so my real problem is merely the self pity. Naturally, having such different experience, each of us believed the other was twisting our words and ignoring what to us were obvious truths.

To be clear, self pity is bad, IF a problem is easy to solve. Don't waste time feeling sorry, solve the problem! But that is only true if the problem is easy to solve. If the problem is difficult then we need help. If we cannot get help (because the other person cannot see the problem) we need to dwell on it, we need to make it a high priority. We also need to remember that we are not evil, in case others' ignorant criticism encourages us to give up. In other words, we need self pity.

If a problem is difficult is important that you dwell on how bad it is, otherwise you would be tempted to just let it go and the problem would never be solved. Take sickness for example, if nobody will help, and there is no obvious solution, you must dwell on it and examine it in every possible way. Otherwise you may die. This applies to severe mental as well as physical sickness.

Self pity is especially important if your problem is hard to see. High functioning autistics will understand, especially regarding relationships. Other people will lose patience and condemn you as morally weak. Even other aspies, if they don't have that particular set of problems. So you have to solve the problem yourself.

Some problems cannot be easily solved. This is a concept that people without the problem find hard to accept. it disturbs their world view. It is why in days gone by the sick were often accused of bringing it on themselves though immoral behavior. It helps the healthy to sleep at night, so they don't have to worry that one day it might happen to them..

My ex-girlfriend is an example of this. She has autoimmune problems that cause her constant pain and stop her doing things. But from the outside she looks fine (more than fine!) So she seldom gets any sympathy. It causes her some bitterness. Now it looks like she may have a form of cancer that will kill her in just over 12 months. When I asked on another forum for advice (not here) the general response was not to get involved. If this is the general view then she has tor rely on herself.

When most people will not help, our only hope is to dwell on the problem until we find any solution, if one exists. If the problem cannot be solved you need to remind yourself that you are not a bad person, as it is the only comfort you will ever have. So self pity does have a place.



Last edited by trappedinhell on 18 Aug 2011, 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

ci
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18 Aug 2011, 3:59 am

Geez some people can be mean. A true form of emotional intolerance is not the inability to emotionally assist another person but to out right belittle them for experiencing an internal hardship by calling it self-pity. People that idly accuse others of self-pity ought to be rung out to dry by the compassion police. That being said it just reflects upon their character and intolerance upon their own human experience within themselves toward their own experiences. They may be inept in part emotionally and have gained coping mechanisms to deal with reality in those fashions and so expect others to do so as well.


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Grisha
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18 Aug 2011, 7:48 am

I think a little self-pity now and then can be very therapeutic, as long as it's not too excessive.

I don't have a lot of patience for people who are quick to criticize someone else for it though. I guess I don't get much pleasure from kicking someone while they're down... :?



Fnord
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18 Aug 2011, 8:47 am

[opinion]

Self-pity is always a bad thing, in that a person can become so occupied with it that they can neglect those issues that can be improved. For example, my cousin pitied herself because she couldn't get a date. Before she started on this downward spiral, she was intelligent (honor student), talented (piano, guitar, painting), and attractive (Junior Miss finalist). That was twenty years ago (she was 18). Now she seems dumb, dull, weighs twice as much as she did then, and every attempt to encourage her to do something about her situation always seems to come around to focusing on the fact that guys did not and do not want to be her boyfriend. Who would want to spend time with a middle-aged woman who is always complaining about how unpopular she is?

Her self-pity consumed her potential, and has become the focal point of her identity.

[/opinion]


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Simonono
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18 Aug 2011, 8:49 am

I pity myself all the time and moan to others, but it really doesn't solve anything.



Last edited by Simonono on 18 Aug 2011, 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fnord
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18 Aug 2011, 8:52 am

Simonono wrote:
I self pity myself all the time and moan to others, but it really doesn't solve anything.

EXACTLY!

Self-pity is neither a solution, nor a process for solving problems or resolving issues.


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Moog
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18 Aug 2011, 9:06 am

The differences between pity and compassion are quite subtle.

I believe that pity or compassion, for self or other, is only useful in so far as it provokes an active response. You take that feeling and do something positive in reaction. Emotions are information.

Why people do the 'woe is me' routine, if not in an attempt to elicit aid? Unfortunately, provoking pity in others often provokes negative emotions like disgust, contempt and loathing. I see this all the time in L & D.

Far better in my view to say "here is my problem, I want to fix it, I don't know how, can someone please help."

A lot of the people 'wallowing' in self pity are actually suffering from various flavours of learned helplessness.

http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/helpless.htm
http://askthecognitivebehaviortherapist ... ut-desire/

There can also be some element of pride involved, like in some way people think they are too good or smart or whatever to be at fault, so it must be a cruel universe at work.

Quote:
Pity evokes a tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow or empathy for people, a person, or an animal in misery, pain, or distress. People who have previously experienced the pain or misfortune in question may feel greater pity.


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While pity is seeming to be a positive, helpful emotion, it is usually seen as derogatory and contemptuous. According to this view, it's based in conscious or unconscious lack of respect to the sufferer's dignity, who is seen as inferior.


Quote:
Modern neurology asserts that pity consists of an initial aversion to the plight of the sufferer, after which the higher parts of the brain make a more nuanced assessment of the situation (e.g., considering the context and invoking empathy, etc.).


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Moog
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18 Aug 2011, 9:22 am

Invisibility of a problem is another matter really. Another problem can be a visible problem, but without visible soloutions. People can shy away from things that seem to hard to change. Easier to justify not doing something. Some people do make themselves a very unappealing prospect to support


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b9
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18 Aug 2011, 9:30 am

Quote:
is self pity always a bad thing?


yes i think it is. if you get to a position where you feel sorry for yourself, then you have reached a position where you are just surveying the damage and emotionally responding to it rather than ignoring the emotional content and just fixing what is wrong in a sterile way.



trappedinhell
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18 Aug 2011, 10:00 am

If I understand the word correctly, pity should lead to action.

dictionary.com wrote:
sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy: to feel pity for a starving child.


The word pity derives from the word piety, referring to the fulfilling of obligations. Piety, like pity, has been debased as a word precisely because it is a positive thing: So many people wanted to claim piety without action, and pity without action, that the words became synonyms for hypocrisy. But I embrace the original meaning.

When referring to pity without action I prefer the words hypocrisy or despair. And I fully agree that both of those are always bad. In my opinion.



b9
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18 Aug 2011, 10:09 am

oooh dear... deleted.



Last edited by b9 on 18 Aug 2011, 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Freak-Z
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18 Aug 2011, 10:17 am

This is why I'm afraid to post or talk about my feelings here or in real life. I don't want people accusing me of self pity.



CockneyRebel
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18 Aug 2011, 10:20 am

I had a brief episode of self pity when I was going through garbage cans picking out drinking containers and bottles after some crippled Mexican woman chased me away from her recycling bin where all her empties were. I was yelling to myself that my parents raised me to be a bum, while my NT sister had all the encouragement and the best of everything. I sarcastically said to myself, something that my dad said to me when I was 15 but he only said it once. I did it in a whiny voice. "There are lots of things that other people can do that you will never be able to do, and part of it is because you have a Learning Disability." Looking back at 6 this morning, it would be a good idea for me to make an appointment with my Job Placement Specialist after I spend the weekend writing places out of the phone book that I might like to work. Places that I would be working 4 days a week, 4 hours a day instead of 2 hours a day, 2 days a week.


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18 Aug 2011, 10:29 am

Fnord wrote:
[opinion]

Self-pity is always a bad thing, in that a person can become so occupied with it that they can neglect those issues that can be improved. For example, my cousin pitied herself because she couldn't get a date. Before she started on this downward spiral, she was intelligent (honor student), talented (piano, guitar, painting), and attractive (Junior Miss finalist). That was twenty years ago (she was 18). Now she seems dumb, dull, weighs twice as much as she did then, and every attempt to encourage her to do something about her situation always seems to come around to focusing on the fact that guys did not and do not want to be her boyfriend. Who would want to spend time with a middle-aged woman who is always complaining about how unpopular she is?

Her self-pity consumed her potential, and has become the focal point of her identity.

[/opinion]


Well I could be wrong but I think many people on this website have much worse problems than not being able to get a date....sounds like you are comparing a lot of issues people have with petty things which is kind of ridiculous and well ignorant.



marshall
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18 Aug 2011, 10:55 am

ci wrote:
Geez some people can be mean. A true form of emotional intolerance is not the inability to emotionally assist another person but to out right belittle them for experiencing an internal hardship by calling it self-pity. People that idly accuse others of self-pity ought to be rung out to dry by the compassion police. That being said it just reflects upon their character and intolerance upon their own human experience within themselves toward their own experiences.

I've noticed there exist some people in this world who will miss-identify any mention of a problem or a need for help/accommodation from others as "self-pity". These people should simply be avoided. Then there are others who will respond differently based on how you state the problem. If you can be direct and avoid certain emotional language of despair, hopelessness, or anger they might be more receptive and interpret your request as something constructive / solution-seeking rather than "self-pity". Of course this expectation that people always remain emotionless can be akin to expecting someone not to cry out in pain when they are being burned alive. I guess if you really can't refrain from venting it's best to find a safe person to do so.
Quote:
They may be inept in part emotionally and have gained coping mechanisms to deal with reality in those fashions and so expect others to do so as well.

It seems people who have been subject to extreme circumstances, dealt with extreme trials, or who have been physically or emotionally abused develop extreme coping mechanisms that are dysfunctional and hurtful to others. People go to either one extreme or the other, either completely repressing negative emotion and unfairly expecting others to do the same, or being emotionally volatile. I'm the latter type and naturally don't get along with the former.