“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.”
Dale Carnegie (Author, How to Win Friends and Influence People)
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Warren Buffet (CEO & Largest Shareholder, Berkshire Hathaway)
“Never feel self-pity, the most destructive emotion there is. How awful to be caught up in the terrible squirrel cage of self.”
Millicent Fenwick (Fashion Editor & U.S. Congresswoman)
We dropped the 1,000-pound ATM on its side and looked at each other dumbfounded.
Once an ATM was on its side, you were screwed.
It was almost impossible to get upright.
Like a cow.
To make matters worse, the electrical lift-gate on the loading truck had stopped working.
My friend and I had 15 of these ATMs to deliver around the state in less than two days.
Our goal was to get 8 delivered today and 7 delivered tomorrow.
We had delivered two.
We drove the loading truck to a mechanic who told us they couldn’t fix the lift-gate for 24 hours.
Frustrated, we quit.
We left the truck at the mechanic and sat on the stoop at our hotel and felt sorry for ourselves.
No paycheck this week!
Why does this always happen to me?
These are the sad little thoughts that ruminated in my head.
After a few hours of feeling sorry for myself, I went to bed.
The phone rang. It was 5AM.
The mechanic fixed the lift-gate.
If we hurried, we might be able to deliver all of the ATMs on time.
We ran down to pick up the truck and raced off to the next store.
When we started moving the ATM into the store, the store’s clerk ran up to us and told us to stop.
He didn’t know about any ATM delivery.
“You were supposed to call all the clerks ahead of time,” my friend said to me.
“No, you were.” I fired back.
The conversation spiraled downward from there until we were both pointing fingers and yelling.
After the ATM fell over, the lift-gate broke, and now the uninformed store clerk—something snapped.
We weren’t feeling sorry for ourselves anymore.
We were both pissed.
My friend talked to the clerk and I installed the ATM. Then, we got back in the truck.
Over the next 8 hours, we delivered all 13 remaining ATMs.
We worked quickly and in perfect unison, fuming mad.
Not a single word was said, but the job was done.
Self-Pity Destroys Productivity And Respect
Self-pity is a common response to stressful events.
Something bad happens, you feel helpless, you feel sorry for yourself—that’s how things play out.
The problem is that throwing a pity party does nothing to improve the stressful event you’re facing.
Self-pity promotes inaction and acts as a gateway to learned helplessness and depression.
The key to avoiding this kind of useless behavior is recognizing the warning signs.
Studies in the Journal of Personality show that people who frequently indulge in self-pity see themselves as controlled by both chance and by others they see as more powerful than they are.
With respect to anger expression, self-pity is primarily related to anger-in.
People who feel sorry for themselves internalize their anger instead of expressing it.
They ruminate, or obsess over what went wrong and why it’s “not fair,” instead of taking action to make things better.
While these thoughts might feel comforting at the time, they lead to bigger problems.
3 Ways On How To Start Standing Up For Yourself
When things go bad, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself.
It’s easy to ask, “Why me?”
But there’s absolutely no value in this.
When you feel self-pity, others don’t feel sorry for you.
They see you as weak.
They resent you and want to either avoid you or crush you completely.
The more you feel sorry for yourself in life, the more people will take advantage of you.
You’ll be taken advantage of over and over until you’re swimming in a swamp of self-pity, alone and completely helpless.
The only way to avoid this fate is to start standing up for yourself and start channeling your emotions in a more productive manner.
1. Stop Apologizing For Yourself.
Everyone wants you to apologize for everything.
We’re taught from a young age that saying “I’m sorry” is the right thing to do.
It’s the adult thing to do.
Apologizing for yourself all the time is weak.
Apologies are a breeding ground for self-pity.
When you constantly apologize, you communicate to both yourself and the outside world that you’re always wrong.
This erodes both your self-esteem and your integrity.
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology shows that refusing to apologize provides several psychological benefits, including empowerment, confidence, and greater feelings of integrity and self-respect.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never apologize.
If you did something legitimately wrong or failed to deliver, own up to it, learn from it, and move on.
If you’re apologizing for your beliefs, your desires, your goals, your past, or who you are at your core—stop it.
Protect your apologies.
Instead of saying “I’m sorry” or “my apologies” for routine mistakes, say, “I didn’t mean to do that” or “Here’s what I meant to say…”
Most importantly, stop apologizing just to keep the peace with other people.
Nothing is more soul sucking and distracting than constantly worrying about offending other people.
If who you are offends other people, that’s their problem, not yours.
2. Get Comfortable With Anger.
Too many people cry and whine about anger being a damaging emotion.
“It will ruin your health!” they say.
Anger is only damaging to you when you don’t express it.
It’s only damaging when you don’t know how to manage it and channel it productively.
Self-pity is poison, not anger.
When bad things happen, anger is far more useful than self-pity.
A report published by the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory found that anger both encourages people to believe they can control their future and then motivates them to take risks.
Anger narrows your focus, directing your attention outward.
It also primes you for action.
Indulging in anger instead of self-pity is a much more effective strategy for breaking through difficult circumstances.
Anger makes you productive. Self-pity makes you impotent.
3. Say “No” A Lot More.
People who always say “yes” are pushovers.
They’re also unimportant and have no goals of their own.
Think about it.
If you are always agreeing to help other people push their agendas forward, you have no time to push your own agenda forward.
Or, it means you have no agenda of your own.
This is why so many people hide behind a façade of only caring about other people.
They don’t really care about others, they just don’t have any personal goals.
If they did, they would lead by example, not by words or small-minded deeds.
“No” is better than “yes.”
The problem is that we are taught to say “yes” to everything, just like we’re taught to say “I’m sorry.”
Team players say “yes.”
Champions say “yes.”
But saying “no” is selfish.
This is what we’re told.
In reality, the most successful people in the world, from Warren Buffet to Steve Jobs, dedicate their success in business and life to the ability to say “no” more than “yes.”
Saying “no” eliminates stress and makes you more dependable.
Saying “no” will also make you more creative. Being selective with your tasks both frees your mind and gives you time to sharpen your natural strengths.
“No” guards time, the path through which we build our creations and connect our creations with other people.
The math is simple.
You have less time than you think and need more time than you know.
Start saying “no” to other people’s agendas. Instead, spend time defining and sharing your own personal goals.
Lead by example only, nothing else.
Wallowing in your own self-pity makes you weak, not strong. Indulging in self-pity will do nothing to improve your situation. Instead, it will make you more vulnerable. You will become less productive and will learn to be helpless. When faced with negative events, choose to channel and manage your anger instead of feeling sorry for yourself. This starts with learning how to stop apologizing for yourself and people pleasing, and instead focusing your energy outwards, not inwards. Develop a healthy sense of defiance by saying “no” to other people’s activities more and learning to make things happen for yourself. This will keep you from feeling powerless.
To learn more about avoiding self-pity and emotional intelligence, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.