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Almost every person I’ve met has experienced some type of hardship in life on various levels. What may have been a difficult experience for me could not be a big deal to you. What may have been a horrible circumstance for you may not seem so bad to someone else.
The bottom line is that every person has times in their lives when they experience negativity, trauma, or a very difficult circumstance. There are some experiences we have no control over such as the death of a loved one, physical abuse in childhood, or an accident that leaves you disabled.
However, how you mentally pull yourself out of the situation as you grow older is what will determine how you live the rest of your life. Some people have gone through horrible tragedies and somehow can find positivity again, be thankful, and keep achieving their goals. How do they do it? How do they not allow self-pity to overtake their lives?
The truth is, many of these people do feel sorry for themselves and they do go through moments of self-pity, sadness, doubt, and loss of hope. However, what sets them apart is that they don’t allow themselves to stay in that state. They acknowledge their feelings, give themselves time to cry or scream, then take steps to move forward.
Feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you are a human. We all feel sorry for ourselves sometimes, but to keep moving, you have to learn steps to help you move forward and get past the pity party.
Below are 5 steps to help you stop feeling sorry for yourself and move forward.
Gratitude has to be the number one thing that I have heard people say that has helped pull them out of despair even in the worst situations. Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl stated, ” The last human freedom (is) the ability to choose one’s attitude, especially an attitude of gratitude in a given set of circumstances, especially in difficult circumstances.”
Our freedom lies in our ability to be thankful even in harsh circumstances. Giving thanks does not condone poor behavior from someone else or dismiss the pain of a traumatic event. Giving thanks pushes your mind to focus on the things that are going right versus what is going wrong.
Even if the only thing you can be thankful for is food, shelter, sunshine, the smell of a flower, or perhaps clean water. The point is to find something to be thankful for and allow yourself to focus on it.
Every morning I write a list of 10 things I am thankful for, whether it’s tangible like money or an emotion like peace, or something in the environment like sunshine. So, when you feel down and can’t seem to find your way out, take the time to write a list of things that you are thankful for. You may be surprised at all the positive things you do have in your life.
Creating a life plan helps give you direction on the next steps in your life. It’s like when you have a GPS in the middle of the wilderness that tells you exactly where to go. Having a plan that highlights what you want your life to look like, how you want to feel, and the steps that you can take toward making that life reality will give you hope. It will also push you to keep moving forward because you’ll have a representation of the vision that you have for yourself.
Creating a plan doesn’t mean your life will be perfect, but it will help you develop the action steps for moving forward. What’s even better is that you can change a piece of the plan at any time to make it work for you.
Mentally strong people have mental strength habits. When you have daily habits that build your mind, it is very difficult to live in a constant state of self-pity. Mental strength habits include having a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious foods that give you energy and help you focus.
Speaking kind affirmative words to yourself daily is another way to build mental strength. When you say kind things to yourself, it makes you feel good. It builds up your belief that you are valuable and worthy, which in turn helps you feel better. It also builds up your confidence and self-love.
Mentally strong people also understand how to put events into perspective. They realize that having one bad day does not mean they have a bad life. They understand that having a bad childhood does not mean they deserve terrible adulthood. They can perceive an event within a time frame and not allow it to dictate the direction of their entire lives.
When you are feeling sorry for yourself, the quickest way to change your state is to get moving. Change your physical location. If you are in your house go outside. If you are in your car get out and walk. Try doing a few jumping jacks, or work on a hobby that forces you to move your body (or at least parts of your body). When you force your body to move, it helps your mind focus on that activity.
It’s difficult for your brain to focus on running up a hill and feeling sad at the same time. It’s difficult to feel sorry for yourself while you are swimming several laps in a pool. It’s difficult to work in your garden and feel sorry for yourself. So, get physically moving to help pull you out of that state of mind.
You can also get moving by volunteering. Do some volunteer work that pulls you out of your normal world. For example, walk a dog for a local animal shelter, feed the homeless at a food bank, or pick up items for a clothing drive. Again, the point is that it will be hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are focused on helping someone that may be in a worse circumstance.
Taking full accountability for a negative experience means that you take ownership of the part that you played or are playing. For example, you may have gone through a difficult marriage and divorce. Taking accountability doesn’t mean your ex was a saint, it means you acknowledge that you chose to marry that person. You acknowledge that it was not the best decision and recognize that you now have the power to make a different decision.
Taking full accountability does not let a perpetrator off the hook for hurting you, but it does allow you to take your power back by not continuing to give them control over your body or mind. Many times we will feel sorry for ourselves over something that happened years ago. Yes, it was bad, yes it hurt, but it’s over now. Don’t let the pain live in your mind “rent-free” and continue to make you feel bad.
Taking ownership of your life also helps give you perspective on what lessons you learned from the situation that you can take with you going forward. It teaches you to focus on how you can make better decisions so you can have a better life.
Life can be difficult, but feeling sorry for yourself will not make it any better. Be willing to let the pain go to have a happier existence. Yes, feel your emotions, write them out, and seek therapy if you need to, but don’t live in a perpetual pity party. Not only will it make you feel worse, but it may also lead to deep depression and actual physical pain. Be willing to do the work to move forward and create a life that brings your joy, peace, and satisfaction.
Ready to start the process of gaining more clarity, confidence, and courage? Start here:
Don’t let more time pass by, reclaim your life today!
Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love