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self pity


AndreaB
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi AndreaB,

Good question. Of course the answer is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and using some of the self help techniques we have on this site under our self help section.

What do others think??

Allan

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I always thought that self-pity was a part of the depression, for me at least, even one of the ways of defining it. I never thought of trying to solve it as a separate problem.

If there's a way, I'm sure Allan knows what he's talking about.

To me it sounds like you've identified a behavior of yours that you'd like to change, but you're not. This sounds extremely familiar, because I do that all the time.

One thing I read was that many people (me included) believe that in order to change, you have to feel bad about the way you are now. They've been taught that that's how you get motivated to change. I know for sure that I behave that way.

The question that was asked in what I read is, why do you need to feel bad about your whole self when you just want to change one thing? Why not feel ... okay ... about yourself, and just be aware of something to change? In many ways, if you don't value yourself, you're actually less likely to change.

So, if this has been too preachy, I'll just plead that I need to keep repeating this to myself.

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thank you all for the advice. I believe I've been depressed for so long that I've used it as an excuse for who I am. I'm talking with my therapist about changing my behavoir, but it's going to take a while. Right now I feel ok about myself. That's becasue I'm back on my meds and it's helping me focus. I'm trying to not think like this it's just hard. And no you wasn't to preachy I'll take any advice I can get thank you:)

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Why do you need an excuse for how you are?

I know you mean, for the bad things about yourself, but it's the depression that tells you that bad things are the majority.

Why not list the good things, and take credit for those? Just as a shock to the system, you understand. ;-)

I do the same thing, though, always picking on things about me to change. I even let my wife spend her time adding to the list, because basically, I already believe that the "bad" list is more longer and important.

Thanks, you've just inspired me to go off, rather than hijack your thread, to go make a "good" list for myself.

[edit] By the way, the self-help book is under Topics, here.[/edit]

Edited by malign
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Andrea,

When you are depressed, your thoughts become tainted by the depression which makes them become more negative. Since we appreciate the world through the lens of our thoughts, the world starts seeming more negative to us. We also appreciate our own self-worth through our thoughts, so we start to see ourselves as being worthless (when depressed). We are not the content of our thoughts - we are that which has the thoughts - but since it is very hard to tell the difference between ourselves and our thoughts, most people confuse them and feel bad about things.

So there are two general strategies for trying to turn this process around. As Allan has suggested, the first one involves techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy. The basic idea is that you learn to be more aware of the thoughts you are having, and then you really examine those thoughts carefully, looking for signs of biased perception and plain old mistakes. When you find those mistakes, you re-write the thoughts so that they are more accurate. When you practice this skill again and again so that you get good at it, you start to be more able to get around the depression bias, and that often results in your feeling better about the world and yourself.

The second method is variously called mindfulness, meditation, or Acceptance. It involves learning to meditate, which itself involves learning how to step back from the stream of your thoughts and learning to just watch those thoughts without actually taking them seriously. This is a skill that you can learn with practice (constant practice!) but when you master it, the urgency of the thoughts that once caused you to feel bad drains away more or less and you start feeling better.

We describe these various strategies in our self-help book "Psychological Self-Tools".

Hope this is helpful.

Mark

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does anyone have any idea how I could stop having self pity with my depression? I ise my depression as an excuse for the things I do like missing work school eating to much sleeping to much and lashing out at people. I want to not be able to see myself at a pity level :rolleyes:

Okay, 1. Please define "self pity", (a phrase that means different things to diff people). And i'd like to point out, in my entire life i've never heard that used in a constructive way, i've only heard that phrase by some person who was not happy with some other person -a tool to shame or guilt someone into action.

2. Hon, everything you listed are symptoms of clinical Depression. Which can also manifest as anger or irritability.

vale,

Poet

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"The basic idea is that you learn to be more aware of the thoughts you are having, and then you really examine those thoughts carefully, looking for signs of biased perception and plain old mistakes. When you find those mistakes, you re-write the thoughts so that they are more accurate."

I may be misreading or misinterpreting this, if so my apologies.

Having studied Cognitive Therapy and Dr. Beck, this seems to be an overly complicated definition/description. Moreso than Dr. Beck's own words.

You learn to become aware of your automatic thoughts. E.g., you go to a restaurant, the server is rude to you, and the automatic thought is: that person doesn't like me. What Beck/Cognitive therapy says is: to think of another reason why that person might be acting rude that has nothing to do with you. E.g., maybe their car broke down on the way to work, or it's possible that person just had a quarrel with their spouse, or had a romantic break-up. Trade your automatic thought for that last one. This new thought brings about a new feeling.

Those are all very possible, plausible situations that happen to everyone. You can't know what happened to someone before they showed up for work. You practice doing that, and you'll find your automatic thoughts change.

vale,

Poet

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Poetdowns and AndreaB,

Poetdowns, excellent and precisely. What you described is right on. :rolleyes:

Andrea, what do you mean by self pity and are you in therapy and have you tried Cognitive behavioral therapy. There are self help books and manuals that will teach you how to do it.

Allan:)

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  • 8 months later...

Hi Andrea,

IMO, I think the self pity comes diretly from the depression, making us feel very badly about oneself. That is where the low self esteem comes from, such as the thoughts of "not being able to do anything right" or doing anything good enough" than feeling very bad.

To me, it is a vicious cycle , the more the thoughts of low self worth , the worse the depression becomes. Than we have to cope with the depression by doing what makes us feel better. We all have our ways of coping.

Glad you are in therapy so you can talk about how you feel. Does the medication help you ?

Usually the chosen method of treatment for depression is combined meds and therapy .

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Good morning Andrea,

So few things are more demotivating than depression and the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that sometimes accompany it. The self pity-- I think it's a very real emotion, at times even separate from depression. Self pity often can numb the pain, wrapping it in a caccoon and keeping you somehow safe from further intrusion from the outside. But it can also be more addictive than most drugs and can paralyze your thoughts, feelings and even your actions. Often, it becomes a subtle self manipulation that people use to get any number of things--many of which you've described. It tends to also separate you from yourself, from other people, from your world, and from your power to change-- it is the ultimate enemy of choice and saps of you of the strength to change. Very little changes when you're in pity-- and this is at the heart of what I hear you saying.

Andrea, b/c self pity seems to adding to the depression, my thinking is that we should look at this first, as a separate entity (although they're joined at the hip) for now since it keeps the depression alive and active.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Get The Depression Workbook (Amazon used for <$10) but don't start it until you've done steps 2 and 3 below for at least 2 weeks.

2) Muscle it-- no matter what, get up and get out. Force yourself daily to get up early, no matter how you feel. and take a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood, park, yard, down the street, etc. Talk to at least 5 people (Good morning) whether you want to or not, fake the smile, fake the joyful walk (i.e, don' crawl your way around the neighborhood or park). Do this for 1 week and then add 30 minutes in the afternoon/evening. Talk to 8-10 people this time (Hi, how are you... beautiful evening isn't it?). Remember, no matter what—don’t stop doing this, it’s your ticket to starving the depression and feeding all of you. My thinking is that depression is much like a cold: starve it and you feel better, feed it (the depression) by isolating yourself, being alone, not moving, and it takes over.

3) Begin the meditation process Mark discussed (plagiarized from elsewhere [?]-- not my creation, but it still works):

  • Find a quiet time alone when you won't be disturbed. You may want to turn down the lights and unplug the phone.
  • Spend a minute or two to relax your body and your mind. Nothing elaborate, just make sure you're "calm, cool and collected".
  • Count from five to one, with the intention of entering an altered state at the count of one. Your INTENTION makes it happen, more than the actual counting.
  • At the count of one, imagine yourself in your room, or some other place of your choosing, and in this space you see something that resembles a toilet. Maybe it looks like a bathroom sink. This is your pity receptacle.
  • Begin to feel your self pity as strongly as you possibly can. Focus only on the pity, and all the reasons why you SHOULD be feeling pity. Think of nothing else. (Maintaining focus on your pity is much harder than you might imagine. It's difficult to focus on anything for very long.) It's very important to concentrate only on the pity. This may actually take some practice. It definitely requires intense mental acuity.
  • After you have filled yourself with pity for as long as you can (say, five to ten minutes) the next step is to flow it all into the sink or toilet or other similar object. Then, either flush the toilet or rinse the sink, or in some other way wash the pity out of sight.You could sit on the toilet and let it come out between your legs, or you could stand in front of the sink and let it pour out of your heart, your mind, your stomach, your neck, etc. You could even do it both ways, or in some other way that makes sense to you. The key is to vividly and decisively imagine it leaving your body and flowing into some sort of receptacle. It also needs to leave fairly quickly, at the speed of, say water flowing down a sink, or down the toilet.
  • Count yourself out of the meditation by counting from one to five, and at the count of five open your eyes. And that's it! You don't have to follow the instructions exactly, and in fact I encourage you to 'dress it up' or change it slightly to suit your own temperament.

Once you’ve done this for 2 weeks, you should begin to feel well enough to begin looking at the depression side. I like to break things down when one is depressed since it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and distressed. Also, within 2 weeks, the medications may be reaching therapeutic level and that will help more. If you're on an SSRI such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Effexor or Celexa, it will take 3-5 weeks to reach therapeutic level. You'll see the same slow progress on Lexapro, so be patient.

Please write back in and let us know, daily, how it’s going and how we can be of better service.

Good luck and I hope this helps

David

Edited by David O
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