I grew up in and out of foster homes. My mom struggles with schizophrenia, my dad lives in a land far away, and I have no close family. It took me a long time to learn how to stop feeling sorry for myself — but once I put my self-pity down, I began to Blossom.
You’re here because you feel sorry for yourself. Maybe somebody did or said something to hurt your feelings. Maybe you’ve had a tough life with lots of problems, and you feel like you can’t keep fighting. Or maybe you’re like Brianna, and you can’t even admit why you feel sorry for yourself because it seems trivial.
“I don’t belong anywhere right now,” says Brianna on What to Remember When You Feel Like No One Cares. “I don’t feel like people I know care or understand the situation that’s bothering me so much. I hate to even say why I feel so sorry for myself because it’s so trivial to most people. Besides the current problem that’s bothering me, I’ve just had so much hurt and failure in my life. I just feel sorry for myself in general, and feel like I’ve been cheated out of things I wanted in life. But I do lame myself for a lot of that because of the bad decisions I’ve made. How do I stop feeling so sorry for myself? Sorry for the self pity!”
Sometimes we need a good old-fashioned bout of “I feel sorry for myself!” We need to lick our wounds, allow self-pity to overcome us, and just feel bad for ourselves. We need to give ourselves love and compassion.
And then we need to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and let go of the past.
How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
I’ll describe what helped me overcome self-pity when I slipped into a long, difficult season of feeling sorry for myself. Then, I’ll describe what two readers — Ellen and Shirley — are doing to stop feeling sorry for themselves. Ellen hasn’t gotten far yet.
The house with the golden windows
I felt super sorry for myself when I was a university student. I had to get student loans, live with roommates, work as a waitress part-time, and rely on myself for everything. Except life, which God supplied for free.
All my friends had perfect families, plenty of money, and secure futures. They had everything they needed, and I was the poor little girl with nothing but a crazy mom. I hated my life, and I hated myself. I was tired of struggling, sick of being consumed by self-pity, and mad at my mom and dad.
I discovered this little story:
A little girl called Blossy would look across the sprawling meadows outside her cottage every morning, and see in the distance a house with golden windows. She would star and revel in the radian beams streaming her way from far away. She asked her big sister one day if they could visit the house with the golden windows. Her sister obliged, and they started to walk.
Blossy and her big sister walked and walked until they approached the house. Blossy stood perplexed. She saw no windows of gold. But the little girl inside saw them starting at there home. She came out and asked if they were looking for something.
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“Yes,” said Blossy. “I wanted to see the house with the golden windows that I see every morning.”
“Oh, you’ve come to the wrong place,” said the girl. “If you wait here a little while until sunset, I’ll show you the house with the golden windows that I see every evening.” And she pointed to a house in the distance — which was Blossy’s own home.
I didn’t suddenly stop feeling sorry for myself, but I did start looking at people differently. I realized that nobody has a perfect life. Everybody struggles with something, everyone has hidden pain and problems…it’s just that some people hide their problems and pain better.
And some people don’t let self-pity stop them from Blossoming.
You’re right: life isn’t fair
“Nothing good has happened to me since my husband left three years ago,” says Ellen on 9 Ways to Find Your Life Purpose After a Sad Breakup. “All I have left is bitterness and anger. I feel lost and alone, like I can’t cope without him. I feel like I’ll never find happiness or meet someone else at this stage in my life. Next year I turn 55. I’m desperate and I don’t know how to stop feeling sorry for myself.”
Her husband’s divorce lawyer petitioned for reduced alimony payments, sale of the family home, and half the profits. The judge ruled in his favor. Ellen had to pack up, donate and sell various household items, and move to a condominium. She was enraged when the judge suggested she go to school and find a career. “He said I should find a way to support myself that feeds my passions and gives me a new purpose. Ha! Not in this lifetime.”
Ellen is angry, sad and bitter about the way her life turned out. And she has every right! It’s not fair that her husband left after 30 years of marriage. It’s scary to be forced to sell your home in mid-life, create a retirement plan, and face a future alone. It’s normal to feel sorry for yourself after such a difficult experience.
There’s absolutely nothing good about being thrust into an unexpected and painful new season of life, feeling like you have nothing and nobody…or is there?
Maybe it was a “lucky break”?
Shirley’s story of divorce is similar to Ellen’s — except for the ending. “My husband left me after 31 years,” says Shirley on How to Cope When Your Husband Leaves You for Her. “He was terrible and nasty through the divorce. He’s a totally different man than the husband I thought I knew all those years we were married. I try to have as little contact with him as possible, but I hear news from friends.”
Her ex-husband lived with his girlfriend until she kicked him out. He moved in with his daughter (Shirley’s stepdaughter) and her family; he rarely works. His business fell apart and he had two mini-strokes. He has a new girlfriend but her son is on the run from the police. This is causing problems for him, his daughter and grandchildren.
“As for me, I’ve quite enjoyed living on my own,” Shirley says. “I planted the nicest garden I ever had, and started decorating areas of my house I never liked. A lovely stray cat moved in. I always wanted one but my husband was allergic. I go on holidays with friends. So, as much as I never wanted this part of my life (I am 57), it’s turning out pretty good. I look at my ex-husband and don’t recognize the man he’s become. Sometimes I think I had a lucky escape.”
I asked Shirley for advice on how to stop feeling sorry for yourself after a divorce. She said:
“Trust me, you will get over him,” she said. “You’ll get through this and you’ll learn about your strengths. I’m so sorry we were betrayed, but don’t let them take more of you than they already have.”
What do you think…can you find some seed of encouragement here — or even in your own life? Can you find one little way to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and start living with hope and purpose?
If you tend to hold on to the past, read Do You Struggle to Let Things Go? 5 Ways to Live by Faith.