Self-compassion versus self-pity

Mindless suffered from a severe dependency on, in fact an enslavement to self-pity. He describes a feeling of inadequacy. He describes being angry at G-d, the world, me, and even himself for falling short, refusing to accept reality for what it was, instead of what he imagined it should be. He often told himself things like “my life is worse than anyone else’s,” “nobody else has to deal with such things,” “nobody is suffering like I am suffering.” He became so encumbered by these thoughts that he would get caught up in a cycle of negativity. When he would try to ignore his thoughts and feelings of inadequacy they expressed themselves in very destructive ways. What Mindless needed to learn was to practice self-compassion. But, how is this different from self-pity?

Dr. Kristen Neff explained that self-compassion includes three components.

Below are the three elements of self-compassion:


4 thoughts on “Self-compassion versus self-pity

  1. Thank you – I needed to read this today. I don’t handle it well when things don’t go as planned, and I tend to blame myself for having lost control of the situation. Some days his affair falls into this category, and I end up beating myself up for my own failures that “caused him to make that choice”. I can clearly see that this is something that I need to work on, but when I get in that mood to flog myself, it’s more difficult to pull back and see that his choice had nothing to do with me at all. As you said, it’s easier said than done!

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  2. After talking with my counselor and with TL, today I re-read this piece on self-compassion. I think I still need work on understanding how to use self-compassion without letting it become self-pity. Perhaps it will help me to remember that everyone has struggles, not just me.

    Perhaps self-compassion is keeping my disappointments, limitations, and imperfections in perspective, meaning to remember that they are not the only aspects of my life and not the most important aspects of my life. Perhaps that includes gratitude.

    I’d welcome other suggestions on how to practice self-compassion without straying into self-pity.


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