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josie's avatar

Why do people engage in self-pity?

Asked by josie (30931points) December 29th, 2018

It takes energy to be happy. It takes energy to be unhappy. We only have a limited ration of time and energy. It seems a shame to waste either..

There are quite a few unhappy people here. My personal observation is that many unhappy people are pre-occupied with self-pity. This is certainly not always true, but often enough.

Some quotes on self-pity

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
― D.H. Lawrence, The Complete Poems

“I don’t want it to end, and so, as every therapist knows, the ego does not want an end to its “problems” because they are part of its identity. If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over, and feel sorry for myself, and so have an identity as someone who is being treated unfairly by life or other people, fate or God. It gives definition to my self-image, makes me into someone, and that is all that matters to the ego.”
― Eckhart Tolle

Assuming the strength to admit it, why do people do it?

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16 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Self pity requires no personal growth or work. Pulling yourself up and doing something to change the situation is harder. Many people are beat down, not just lazy, its sad.

Mimishu1995's avatar

It takes less energy to self-pity. In self-pity, you create a story that the world is against you, everyone hates you, so nothing is your fault. It saves you from taking responsibility, which drains you energy and damages your ego.

notnotnotnot's avatar

@josie: “There are quite a few unhappy people here. My personal observation is that many unhappy people are pre-occupied with self-pity.”

Your “personal observation” seems off.

janbb's avatar

People generally feel a range of emotions- self-pity is only one of them. Often it can lead to productive change.

canidmajor's avatar

I have seen very little self-pity here. I see people use an anonymous forum to discuss the hardships of their lives and maybe seek advice, but I don’t see that as self-pity.

We must have different definitions if you see many that are “pre-occupied with self-pity”.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Low self-esteem, and defeatism. Also, it’s an easier solution to let yourself drown in self-pity than actually think about the solution to fix your problem and do it. Sometimes, some people do it to get attention from other people or just for the sake of drama.

Qav's avatar

At this time, I only know one woman who is both persistent and consistent in self-pity, and she is not on this site. She has been a very needy person since the day I met her, always wanting people to do this and that for her, and very pitiful if she can’t find anyone to kowtow to her whims.

It just seems that she has deep unmet needs that have continued from childhood. She is in her 40s but has not grown up and sees no need to do so.

There is also a man (boy?) in my life who wishes people would take care of him (age 50), but no one is willing to comply with his wishes. His lower lip is always protruding, his shoulders always a bit stooped. The only time he seems alive is when he is using someone.

Such persons are their own worst enemies.

Demosthenes's avatar

I agree with @Mimishu1995. It takes less energy to pity oneself; that’s why so many people are bogged down in it. It’s easier to blame your problems on “society” and other people. It’s easier to feel sorry for yourself than to work on yourself. Everyone feels self-pity sometimes. When I start to feel that way, I usually try and take a step back and look at the big picture, because feeling sorry for myself has never benefited me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess there are as many reasons as there are people who feel sorry for themselves. People who feel sorry for themselves as an integral part of their personality, and not due to a particular situation, have some deep seated problems. Probably abuse as a child.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess And sometimes undiagnosed mental issues ie depression.

mazingerz88's avatar

Who the heck are these few unhappy people here? And so does that mean they’re self-pitying too?

Demosthenes's avatar

@josie likes calling out Fluther users for being hateful and unhappy. It’s kind of his shtick.

mazingerz88's avatar

Ohhhh…what dah? Thanks.

janbb's avatar

To clarify my answer, I think self-pity can be a natural reaction to a major setback. When it is a state that you are in permanently it is not productive.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you guys hide it when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, or do you want the world to know it? I’m one to hide when I’m in pain. I hide when I cry. But I don’t know that I’ve ever felt sorry for myself, just heartrendingly, achingly sorry for a situation turning out the way it did.

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