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Self Pity and Grief -
What is the Difference?

Self Pity and Grief


It is important that we know there is a difference between self pity and grief.

If you came directly to this page, it may help you to read about self pity here first. There is a need to differentiate between feelings of self pity and feelings of grief and loss.

There are many times when the appropriate response to a situation is sadness, grief and sorrow.

Grief is more easily recognized than self pity as we usually express this to others using language such as, “I feel as though my heart is breaking”, or “I never imagined I could feel this much sadness”.

self pity and grief Active listening allows us to hear the pain within this and also allows for the expression of it.

Grief is a process we go through that is a response to loss of any kind.

Many people have trouble identifying their feelings of grief and often feel ashamed at the intensity of their pain. Because it feels so deep and painful, and because we have mostly never been taught how to express deep pain, we tend to keep these feelings to ourselves. Consequently, the journey of grief goes un-named for some who are experiencing loss in one of its many other forms.

Grief is the name for the feelings that accompany loss - any sort of loss. It can be loss of a job, a relationship, our hopes and dreams, loss of face, betrayal, loss of friends and loved ones through moving home,and for many, grief is the natural experience when moving to live in a different country. The loss of familiar comforts can cause the deepest grief, and the understanding that grief is a natural response to loss provides great comfort through our pain.

Each time we allow ourselves to feel those feelings of loss and to mourn them, we are moving along the pathway of grief toward acceptance.


To understand about the natural cycle of grief I recommend this website:
Recover from grief. We give here a brief overview of the "grief stages" so you will understand better what is happening to you, and what to expect in the future. There are several "theories" about how grief works.......


It is important to realize that you will never fully get over or forget that for which you grieve.

The grief process allows you to integrate this loss and come to a place of acceptance so that the loss becomes contained within your life experience. Many people feel that if they move into the stage of acceptance, they are denying the loss and therefore they find it difficult to allow themselves to move forward.

Knowing that acceptance is about integration rather than forgetting, means that grief becomes more easily understood.

Self Pity -
Have The Courage To Name It

self pity

Naming this emotional state is one of the best ways of learning to deal with it.

Many of us live with circumstances which are truly damaging and shaming. Often, discovering a compassionate listener who can encourage a deep sharing of this wounded ness, can help release the shame, guilt and pain and enable a way forward.

To have someone truly listen, without colluding, while you talk through the circumstances that have caused your pain, can be just what is needed to pull you from the pity pathway and towards a more empathetic place.

Unfortunately, many of us learned in childhood that our deeper feelings were not able to be received by those we loved the most, and because of this we forced them underground.

It is often these unexpressed feelings that later trap us into the perpetual cycle of self pity, blocking other, more helpful feelings. Of course this is not surprising if this is all we ever learned as children.

Self Pity -
Have The Courage To Be An Enabler

  • “Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
    ~ John W Gardener
  • It can be very powerful to help someone to see that self pity is the name for the feelings they are having.

    However, trying to talk to someone who is drowning in self pity about positive opportunities can be like waving a flag from the beach to help a drowning man instead of swimming out with a lifeline.

    self pity My experience has been that to offer the lifeline to someone, in the form of actually naming the feeling or experience as self pity, can raise huge amounts of anger initially. This is because self pity has been the means of blocking the deeper, more painful feelings which feel impossible to reveal.

    It takes courage and a certain amount of love and concern for the person. We may also need the courage to suggest they need professional help to uncover and release the pain.

    Often we come away from being with someone who is fully engaged in self pity, with a sense of unease and shame.

    We recognize this because we know we would rather avoid them, than collude with them again. It doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves either.

    However, the sheer truth of it is often received later as a positive experience.

    Self Pity -
    Walk Down Another Path Way

    Here is a way to walk down another path.

    I encourage you to print this out and put it where you can clearly read it.

    It is a great tool for action.


    Autobiography Of My Life In 5 Chapters

    Author - (Anonymous)

    Autobiography Of My Life In 5 Chapters

    Chapter 1.


    I walk down the street

    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

    I fall in.

    I am lost…..I am hopeless

    It isn’t my fault.

    It takes forever to find a way out.



    Chapter 2.


    I walk down the same street

    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

    I pretend I don’t see it

    I fall in again.

    I can’t believe I’m in the same place

    But it isn’t my fault

    It still takes a long time to get out.



    Chapter 3.


    I walk down the same street

    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

    I see it is there.

    I still fall in……it’s a habit

    My eyes are open I know where I am

    It is my fault

    I get out immediately.



    Chapter 4.


    I walk down the same street

    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

    I walk around it.



    Chapter 5.


    I walk down another street.

    .


    Find Out More Here:

    Self Pity
    There are some aspects of self pity which help us to acknowledge painful situations and circumstances in our life for which we need help.

    However, if help has not been available or forthcoming in the past, or in our childhood experiences, we form a tendency to become bogged down in our feelings of pain and fear which don't serve any other function except to keep us stuck.

    Building Emotional Intelligence and Resilience
    We need to be able to step back, allow ourselves the time to feel our feelings and to look for the messages they convey to us. We need to understand why we feel in particular ways and what these feelings mean for us. Then we are able to change negative emotions into positive ones.

    Working with Emotional Intelligence
    Here are some useful steps to take in working with emotional intelligence. If this is new to you, be kind, gentle and patient with yourself as you open to different and more vigorous ways of thinking and being.

    Self Esteem Affirmations

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