Intolerance against negative feelings is so widespread, that it is acceptable to feel sorry for others, but not for oneself. The belief that supports that rigid, all-or-nothing mentality, often equates feeling sad or even depressed to an act of self-victimisation, as if melancholy were solely a means to deceiving others or attracting attention to oneself. Those who identify with that perspective struggle to validate their own suffering, especially when persistent. Contrary to popular belief, however, never truly accessing the root of emotional discomfort does not make it go away, but it tends to extend its life unnecessarily. To help you let go of the prejudiced notion that feeling and expressing vulnerability is always a sign of weakness, here are 4 reasons why feeling sorry for yourself helps you grow:
1- You become more emotionally aware and whole
When you allow yourself to feel without judgement, you naturally become more receptive and mindful of your emotional states. Learning how to live at peace with your feelings, in turn, boosts emotional congruence and confidence, which also means giving a powerful voice to your authentic self. As a result, you feel more connected with the whole of you: your mind, body and true identity, leading a more fulfilling and rewarding life.
2- It motivates you into taking action
Feeling sorry for yourself may work as a wake-up call to make positive life style changes. That is because life dissatisfaction and disappointment tend to lead to a process of intense self-evaluation and reassessment. There is nothing quite like hitting rock bottom to motivate one into adapting to new circumstances, repairing relationships and replacing bad habits with healthier ones.
3- It helps you improve emotional health
Increased awareness and respect for negative feelings enables you to quickly identify what is wrong and do something about it. As physical pain, emotional discomfort is there to warn you of potential dangers to your wellbeing. When you address your own inadequateness in a conscious, mature manner and without shaming and blaming yourself, you feel more centred and stronger. Your ability to deal with whatever is bothering you proactively – and even ask for help if needed – increases, which influences emotional health positively.
4- You become more compassionate and tolerant
The extremely biased connotation of “feeling sorry for yourself” reflects a culture of emotional neglect and intolerance. Thinking badly about yourself for feeling disheartened only promotes self-contempt and a self-criticising attitude. When you start embracing and honouring all your feelings, however, you not only become more understanding and empathic towards yourself, but others. Consequently, you also connect more easily with those around you and relationships become more functional.
It is not human to feel good or happy all the time. Therefore, it is not shameful to feel sorry for yourself when sadness takes over. Nobody should feel guilty for expressing genuinely felt negative emotions. If you would like to feel connected and live a more authentic life, it may be time to let go of your prejudice against feeling and expressing negative emotions, such as fear and shame. An all-or-nothing mentality that wrongly assumes that if you allow yourself to feel the full intensity of your sadness or even cry, “you will never stop”, keeps you emotionally stuck and hinders your personal growth and development. To fight that tendency, start acting “as if” you do not care about how others perceive your pain and dare to be yourself, whatever that means.