Why your addiction to self-pity is preventing you from achieving everything you desire. And how to overcome it.
Addictions. There are far too many that people, unfortunately, are a prisoner to in this world. The recent opioid epidemic is a clear indicator of how many people are suffering from addiction and paying for it with their lives and other unflattering ways. Flashback to the late 1800s, and you can find morphine, opium, and other opioid addicts everywhere due to the fact that many unsuspecting doctors prescribed ill patients these harmful and addictive drugs. The lesson here? That no matter what time period you’re in, there are always people who will engage in addictive behaviors even though they may know the consequences of their actions. Drugs, sex, and food are just a few typical examples of what humans can get hooked on. They are the examples you constantly hear about on the news and the ones you may hear about at social gatherings. You hear about your friends’ sister being hooked on pain pills because she just couldn’t seem to put them down after her doctor prescribed them to her after her shoulder surgery. You hear about the cousin that has experimented with every diet under the sun but is still failing to keep off the weight. You hear about the coworker that swears he won’t buy another a pack of cigarettes after he finishes the one he’s currently holding in his hands. You hear these stories all the time and they are part of the norm in our society. But there seems to be the addictions that people don’t always realize their friends are suffering from, or they’re suffering from. They’re somewhat of anomalies or forgotten problems that aren’t glorified or even mentioned on the news or discussed too much in social events. One plausible reason as to why this is the case is because these addictions don’t create enough of a “buzz” to get people to tune in on Fox News, CNN, or any other news outlet. It’s truly a shame because if they were indeed discussed more, people would recognize that they or a loved one may actually be a victim of a problem like this. Well, it turns out that I myself have suffered from an addiction like this for nearly a decade and I truly believe it is worth delving deeper into. The addiction that I am referring to is none other then…being a victim. Confused? Let me elaborate. Let me first backtrack a little bit. You see, I first experienced depression at the age of 17 in the summer of 2009 and during the same time I developed an anxiety disorder due to a number of different reasons I don’t wish to get into. The typical symptoms emerged, including tension headaches, feeling worthless, sleeping a ton, irritability, etc. I hated going to school and every morning felt like the most painful chore to get up and start my day.
And to make matters worse I didn’t want to talk to anyone about my depression to potentially try and resolve it. I was pushing people away, including a psychiatrist whom my mom recommended I go see. The psychiatrist drove me crazy because she immediately started our session with the question, “Do you smoke weed?”. I replied by saying, “No not any more”, and then asked her assertively, “How is that relevant to anything?”. I don’t remember her exact response to this question but I’m confident it was something along the lines of, “It’s just part of the session.” Looking back I recognize that the questions she was asking me were indeed “just a part of the session”, but at the time it certainly felt like an interrogation that my family was paying good money for. The session lasted about an hour and I didn’t feel the slightest bit better about my myself after it was over. I told my mom about my experience with the psychiatrist and told her I was never going back. She was supportive of my decision and was happy that I at least tried to seek some help. With my visit to the psychiatrist behind me, I still needed some way to overcome my depression. My parents tried helping me again by sending me on a six-week study abroad program to Costa Rica that summer to try and alleviate some of my pain. The trip was a phenomenal experience in which I gained some new friends and explored the small, albeit gorgeous country of Costa Rica. However, even though a lot of positives came out of the trip, I still felt depressed and didn’t have any future plans on what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to go to a four-year university after graduating from high school, even though I didn’t have a single clue on what I was going to be studying or what my profession was going to be. I pondered continuously for my first two years with no avail. My major was still listed as “undecided” and it drove me crazy. How was I twenty years of age and still completely lost about my future? After two years at the first university, my parents decided that the price of tuition at that college was ridiculously excessive for their budget and made me transfer to a cheaper institution. After a few months at the cheaper college, I finally made a decision on what I was going to pick as my major. I decided on psychology since, at the time, I thought that helping people with mental health issues like mine would bring me joy in my own life. I also was just very interested in learning how the mind works and how complex it can be. This decision proved to be a poor one because I ended up not enjoying the few psychology-related internships I tried and also realized that I would need to obtain a Master’s degree in order to get higher paying jobs in the field. I didn’t want to spend any more of my parents' money on more tuition, and plus I didn’t find any pleasure from working a standard 9–5 job that would pay poorly.
So what did I do? I complained. A lot. After graduating from college I worked at any regular restaurant or sales job I could find to pay the bills. I didn’t enjoy the jobs one bit and was always anxious about what I was going to do in the future. The key problem for me was that I never actually thought about what I wanted to be when I was older, even when I was a child. I had such low self-confidence growing up, that I felt that I couldn’t achieve anything substantial. Kids usually are dreaming of what they want to do when they get older but it was all different for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and unfortunately never took any steps to try and figure out what would be something I could possibly enjoy and be successful in. When I was younger I hated myself and the story was the same in high school, college, and after college as well. It was just self-pity on top of more self-pity. It took me a long time to figure out that constantly feeling sorry for myself was preventing me from becoming a better, happier, and more successful person. Self-pity is a type of mental barrier or fence that blocks your true self from coming out of you. Some may argue that this was my depression telling me that I was worthless, but the fact of the matter is that I actually stopped being depressed after 2012 (roughly three years after my first initial experience). This was my self-pity kicking in and I was ruminating over and over again. The really frustrating fact about all of this is that I realized my issue when I was already 25 years old. I spent around eight years ruminating about me not getting where I want to be in life. I am now doing better in life because not only did I recognize that I was addicted to self-pity, but also the fact that I wanted to start improving myself and putting effort into discovering who I wanted to be professionally and spiritually. Once you get past the barrier of self-pity, you truly can be anybody as long as you put in the work towards the goal that you’re trying to attain. By writing this I hope that people with the same problem will realize that they indeed have the issue and will start making steps towards eliminating it and improving themselves day by day. “So how do you do all of that?”, you might ask. Well, the answer, unfortunately, isn’t “one size fits all”. Some people should seek professional help by speaking with a therapist, while others simply need to be told by friends or family to stop being lazy and start working towards a particular goal in mind. The goal doesn’t have to be a large one, as long as it’s challenging and something that you truly want to achieve. I found that keeping a daily schedule handy really helped me be a more proactive person and allowed me to achieve a lot in the long run. When you don’t have a schedule and goals written down, then you won’t always remember what you’re working towards. Setting goals and completing those goals works wonders for the mind and possibly even your bank account. When you’re busy working on your goals you won’t have any time for self-pity because you’re focusing on bettering yourself and not on your self-loathing thoughts. The self-loathing thoughts are only there when you’re lazy and focusing on other people’s successes and your own failures.
By continuing to push yourself towards success and not worrying too much about what the future will hold, your chances of actually succeeding will skyrocket. Destroying the barrier of self-pity will open your eyes to endless possibilities and will make you realize how much you can accomplish. Getting over an addiction is never easy, but by having the right support system and writing down your goals and daily schedule you will slowly inch towards the person you’ve always dreamt of becoming. I eventually found joy in photography and continue to work on my craft daily so I can be the best photographer possible. I haven’t had a day of self-loathing thoughts in a while and it’s because I’m consistent in keeping my mind set on my goals and not any worries. I hope this writing has helped inspire you on your journey towards finding who you want to be and overcoming your addiction to self-pity.