We all know someone we avoid because all they seem to do is complain. The person could be a college, friend or family member but always grumbles rather than do anything. Usually, the pity party invitation is blatant; however, sometimes, it is less obvious. Here are some examples of what it can look like:
- The relative regularly calls for help, but your assistance gets resisted (even when it meets their request). The reasoning for this is often their problem is unique compared to anything you’ve ever come across, so you can’t possibly help, but you should anyway. (somehow)
- The colleague regularly complains about the companies unfair treatment of them. Despite all of their evidence, they never raise it with anyone except for you.
- The friend is always in crisis but often creates their problems through their behaviours. They spend all their money on nights out but then need to pay rent, hating how their friend speaks to them but not ever saying anything about it.
Self-pity is an emotion directed towards others to attract attention, help, or empathy. Personalities who experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety and anger, often experience self-pity.
In a previous post, I shared insight to people with a victim mentality, and similarly, there is no helping someone who gives you a pity party invitation. Here are some tips on how to support yourself through the interaction:
- “You seem to ask for my help every day. You don’t feel my advice would work for you. I don’t think it is productive to keep talking about these things any further.”
- “It’s difficult for me to listen to all the bad things about our job when I’m trying to stay positive. From now on, I’m going to step away from the conversation when things turn negative.”
- “I don’t think it would be right of me as a friend to listen to all the reasons why you can’t afford rent every month. I think you could afford rent if you put more effort into budgeting.”
It takes courage to set boundaries, mainly if the person means a lot to you. But it could be the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you.
Self-pity can make it hard to see past self-pity to the joy in the present moment. It is common to withdraw when you feel inadequately validated, resulting in self-pity. However, self-pity makes it feel as though nothing ever will go your way. The result is that the person stops trying to solve anything. Unfortunately, this is also something the person can not snap out of, and nothing truly makes it better.
Stress is the most apparent reason for this rut, but sometimes it is a desire for validation. The difference with this validation is whether the outcome is good or bad, the person seeks confirmation that they deserved it. Reinforcement of negative by sympathetic reactions creates the desired external validation and attention. For these reasons, you must attend their pity party.
Think You’re The Host?
A productive vent can be beneficial, and people who care about you can lend a sympathetic ear during difficult times. Keeping a solution-based focus will prevent it from being a pity party. Not only can self-pity be an isolating experience, but it can also repel those who’d like to support you. The best way for you to snap out of this is to recognise you do it. Sometimes you may lack insight and self-awareness, which would make this a challenge. However, the most effective way to snap out of self-pity is to interrupt it when it is coming on. Self-compassion can help by accepting that sometimes things can happen. If you begin to believe you are a victim, you remove the power and personal responsibility from the situation. If stress is your trigger, mindfulness practice will allow thoughts to pass through you rather than dwell. Mindfulness coupled with gratitude can encourage contentment which will also interrupt self-pity.
What are some of your thoughts and tips?