Stop the Self-Pity! » Mind Tools Blog
Stop the Self-Pity!

Stop the Self-Pity!

January 2, 2017

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A whining, “woe is me” victim mentality is an abhorrent trait – in other people, that is! I mean, who wants to hear an endless stream of self-pity?

But don’t kid yourselves – own up, people! I bet that, at one time or another, we have all wallowed in self-pity, luxuriated in it, and taken refuge in its guilty permission to abdicate ourselves from responsibility or blame for some misfortune or uncomfortable situation.

Who hasn’t enjoyed the attention and concern of friends, family or colleagues who’ve rallied round when life has given us a bit of a kicking?

Girlfriend left you (after your forgot her birthday for the third year in a row)? Lost your job (after accidentally copying your boss into that email in which you told your friends what a jerk he was)? “It’s so unfair! It’s not my fault!” you wail to a sympathetic audience, which doesn’t have all the gory details of your own shortcomings or behaviors.

You can forgive and indulge an occasional lapse into self-pity. After all, chances are you’ll be looking for the same support at some point.

The problems start when an occasional lapse becomes a habit. And it might not be a habit that you are conscious of. But how might that habit develop?

Subconsciously, you enjoy being the center of attention and being fussed over, and you begin to crave it. You enjoy the freedom and relief of not having to accept responsibility for problems, and genuinely believe that your woes and unhappiness are the fault of other people’s actions, or fate, or anything but your own behavior.

“Victim’s High”

People try to help, offer solutions or advice – but you don’t see their good intentions. Instead you twist it in your mind to become another form of oppression. Why are they trying to take away your “victim’s high?”

You might not realize it at first, but your manager and colleagues are starting to get a bit fed up. Your self-pity party is wearing thin. It’s damaging their morale and productivity too. When you fail to complete a task, or don’t deliver your part of a project, you point the finger elsewhere.

Seemingly out of the blue to you, but after possibly weeks or months of aggravation for your fellow team members, you find yourself in an office with your manager and someone from HR, and you hear a litany of complaints about your work and attitude. The gist of the meeting is, “Shape up or ship out!”

If you’re lucky, a friend or colleague – or even your boss – might take you to one side early on and wake you up to yourself before things reach such a level.

As a manager, you need to identify and deal with a team member’s victim mentality as soon as possible. You can find out how to do this with our article, How to Manage a Person With a Victim Mentality.

Have you ever had to manage someone who was always the victim, and never to blame? Join the discussion in the comment box, below.

7 thoughts on “Stop the Self-Pity!

  1. bhagyalaxmi wrote:

    i want this books

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Although this article is not based on any particular book bhagyalaxmi, if you are interested in changing your behavior, which is just like any other habit that we want to change, you might be interested in our infographic here:

    2. Liz Cook wrote:

      You’ll also find some useful references listed alongside our main “Victim Mentality” article, here:
      Liz Cook and the MT editorial team

  2. Saiju wrote:

    I feel myself pitied for trusting ppl and expecting from them as I get attached and used to. But again i felt as if i am lost and left behind without any sign. I get much upset, disappointed and annoyed with myself being stupid again. Then, i start feeling self-pitied. 🙁

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Thank you Saiju for sharing the cycle you go through with self-pity. It can be a repetitive cycle and one that takes practice to break the habit. I wonder if the links Liz and myself suggested might give you some ideas to help.

  3. Rebel wrote:

    Self-pity is really a “road to nowhere”. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t fix anything. Learning from the experience, doing it different next time and asking yourself how you can best fix the situation – those things are much more productive.

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Thanks Rebel for sharing such positive steps to take, instead of being in self-pity because that doesn’t help shift you or your attitude. Much more better to take action and do something about the situation!

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