Self-Compassion vs Self-Pity: Understanding the Difference

To some people, self-compassion and self-pity sound like the same thing. But in reality, there is a huge difference between both. Self-pity comes down to feeling sorry for yourself while self-compassion is more about being kind towards yourself.

Of course, it's natural to sometimes feel sorry for yourself. Life is challenging and at times, it can seem unfair.

What aggravates self-pity is the common idea that everyone seems to be having a better life or have the things you want. But here is the truth: you have no idea about what goes on behind closed doors. Things are rarely as picture-perfect as you may believe.

So many goals

There is a trending term that has grown popular on social media: “goals.” This lends itself to many variations such as “body goals”, “travel goals” and “relationship goals”. The term is frequently accompanied by an image that represents the purported “goal” ideal.

For instance, you may see a photograph of an incredibly good-looking couple on an exotic beach and label this as “relationship goals.” But it could be that they had a huge argument before the photo was taken. Or maybe one of them has been unfaithful. Perhaps one person struggles with severe depression and the other person doesn’t give the right support. Maybe one partner is fiercely jealous so the other partner feels like they don't have the freedom to do many things they like. Does that still sound like “relationship goals”?

It's important to not indulge in self-pity, whether you are doing it out of habit or because you're comparing yourself to others.

Here is what self-pity may look like:

  • Why am I always so unlucky?
  • I am never good enough
  • Why is life always unfair to me?
  • I have always been a loser
  • Good things never happen to me

Thoughts like these are very self-sabotaging and deny you from having self-love. Compassion from others may feel like what you need, but to benefit in the long term, you need to start practicing self-compassion.

Self-compassion is seeing your flaws without self-judgement. By learning to do this, it will enable you to start accepting yourself and embracing your imperfections. Kindness starts with being kind to you.

Here are some tips for practicing more self-compassion

Treat yourself the same way you would treat others

Would you say things like “You have always been a loser” to someone else?

Be aware of the things that you say to yourself and how you treat yourself. Consider if you would say or do those same things to someone who you cared about if they were in a similar situation.

Meditate

Meditation helps to ground you and makes you more open to being kinder to yourself. Experiment with different meditation techniques until you find one that you like.

Be good to yourself

Think about what you like doing and what gives you joy, then add more of that to your routine. Or perhaps there are things you have always wanted to try such as learning to play the guitar or going on a trip by yourself. Incorporate more of those activities into your life.

Get rid of negativity

Take stock of your life and recognize the negative influences that affect your feelings of self-worth. Perhaps there is someone who constantly puts you down or a situation that makes you have low self-esteem.

It is important to re-evaluate not just ourselves, but the impact of things and people around us. And be brave enough to know when it's time to break a cycle–whether that is your own bad habits or cutting ties with something that holds you back from reaching your highest good.