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It’s Not a Pity Party If You Criticize Yourself

woman looking in mirror criticallySelf-pity has a bad rap.

When people confess to me in therapy, “I had a pity party last week,” they’re usually embarrassed about it.

They look as if they’re admitting they made a mean face at a baby or threw a plastic cup on the freeway shoulder.

Their faces say, “I know I shouldn’t do that, but I did it anyway.”

Well, I tell them — and I’m here to tell you — there’s nothing wrong with self-pity.

If you’re going to pity yourself, though, for Heavens’ sake, pity yourself!

Calling yourself a pathetic loser doesn’t sound like pity to me.

Here’s a helpful definition that I swooped up from Dictionary.com:

“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.”

Self-pity means doing all that for yourself.

“But I got myself into this!,” you might protest.

That’s irrelevant.

See the above definition? It doesn’t say, “unless the person got themselves into this pickle in the first place, in which case the sympathetic or kindly sorrow can be dispensed with.”

For more on this, check out my blog post this week over at my country house, PsychologyToday.com:

Self-Pity Doesn’t Look Like This

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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