Self-pity is unhealthy and self-destructive
“Do you think that you were dealt a bad hand in your life?”
“Do you feel sorry for yourself most of the time?”
“Do you think that no matter what you do, your life will never be good?”
“Do you think you deserve better?”
If you answered yes to most questions, then you are most likely indulging in self-pity. Self pity is a state of mind, in which one keeps dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes. When we drown ourselves in self-pity, we keep thinking that nothing goes our way. In short, self-pity is feeling sorry for ourselves.
I admit (with shame) that I had complained about the (self-perceived) unfairness of my circumstances to people around me and made them attend my pity parties way too many times. But, today, I would like to share how I worked on shutting down 2 of my pity parties in 2021.
1st: wanting my own living space
Early last year 2020, due to Covid-19, I was made so much more aware of the importance of personal space and privacy because of the lack of it. During the circuit breaker, having 4 family members under the same roof for almost the whole day can be very suffocating, especially when you have strict parents. I used to sleep in the living room, which meant that my sleep was almost always disrupted by people walking by to the kitchen in the morning, or by the sound of TV just at the foot of my mattress. I dreamed of having my own bedroom and was constantly wondering when my parents would finally give me a room in our 4 room HDB flat. Whenever the question was raised to them, it was just avoided or shunned, seasoned with excuses. So all I did was constantly feel sorry for myself, being frustrated at my parents and being upset with my living condition. I had also brought up this topic in conversations with my friends: “At least you have your own room and bed. I sleep in the living room on a mattress and my study table is beside the TV. I don’t even have my own space and privacy, you are so lucky.” Admittedly, I was trying to gain some sympathy and have people confirm my misery. I was stuck in a negative mindset and saw myself as helpless.
Then, early this year 2021, I got tired of waiting for my living situation to change. I got fed up and decided to take action. My parents have a long-standing habit of “hoarding”, to the extent that one bedroom turned into a store room completely, with a narrow path for only one to walk through. Thanks to the extensive time I had to spare at home due to the pandemic, I started to clear things out of the room, bit by bit, for months. I threw away files, papers, old electronics and even furniture. I also rearranged items to keep the room more organised. I stopped hoping for the bedroom to magically empty itself one day, because that was never going to happen. I needed to put in the work for what I wanted, even if it meant upsetting my parents (as I imagined they would want to keep everything there). By the mid-year mark, I managed to fit a single sized bed and a wardrobe in one half of the room, with space to put my yoga mat for home workouts too! Boxes and shelves were placed in the other half of the room. I could finally say hello to a sacred sleeping area of my own! How surreal. This entire period was a turning point for me. I truly realised that our lives will not improve from always wishing and waiting for something better to happen to us. We need to take action to achieve what we want and make things better.
2nd: wanting a healthier and fitter body
Another source of frustration for me all these years was my body. No matter how much I exercised and kept to an active lifestyle, my body fat percentage levels were still high. I was still fat. In my mind, I also held this constant thought: some girls hardly exercise, eat tons of food, but are still so slim. Seems like life is really unfair, so I blamed my lack of “skinny genes” for my unhealthy looking body (after all, I was never skinny since I was born). And that was how I threw myself a pity party all my life, telling myself that my high body fat levels were not my fault, I was just meant to be fatter.
This year, the pity party had to stop because I realised that I am ultimately responsible for my own health. There was no point harping on the possibility that I didn’t have the “skinny genes” since I can’t reverse time and alter my genes. I also grew to understand that my current health is a reflection and outcome of my current lifestyle, diet and mental wellbeing. Did I eat snacks way too much, which offsets my regular exercise? Yes, I did. Was I not eating enough protein to build muscle and burn fat? That’s probably correct. Was I not eating the right nutrients I need, and instead choosing sugary or processed food most of the time? That’s on me as well. As it turns out, when I looked inward and self-evaluated, the truth behind my current state was a hard pill to swallow. I was my own culprit.
However, understanding how my actions brought me to where I am today allowed me to reclaim control and autonomy over my life. I became aware of my power to change my lifestyle and habits for a better life. So now, whenever I do snack, I mentally note to myself that I am doing something that sabotages my goal of having a fit body. My “lack of skinny genes” was no longer the primary reason, and I may even classify it as an excuse in the future. Making healthy eating choices is hard, fighting cravings for snacks and unhealthy food is also hard. At the end of the day, we all have to choose our own hard. Being healthy is a lifestyle that takes time, consistency, and discipline and as long as I have not given up, I am still a work in progress.
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” — Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
All in all, self-pity is self-destructive and drags us down in life. Complaining is useless. Our pity parties will only hold us back in the long run. Hardship in life is inevitable and comes in many different forms. When faced with tough situations, we can either imprison ourselves with self-pity, or make the best out of it and find workarounds. When we learn to take ownership of our achievements, struggles and pain, we empower ourselves to better our lives. It’s time to stop the pointless blaming of our not-so-ideal situations on external factors, be it the people in our past or past environments. All these could have played a part, but ultimately, we hold the power to change our lives. Remember, you are not hopeless, you are not helpless.
Thank you for reading!