“It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished.”
― Debbie Macomber
Things go wrong in life and when they do, it’s easy to feel like the odds are stacked against you. All of a sudden, the world is out to get you and you decide that your losing streak is never going to end.
Everyone has had moments of self-pity. You can’t help but ask why me? What could I have possibly done to deserve this? Everything and everyone is on a mission to get me, etc. Don’t get me wrong, a little bit of self-pity can be helpful, but it’s when we get stuck in this mindset that the problems will really start to set in.
Many people going through a breakup or divorce struggle to walk the line of self-pity and self-compassion, often confusing this victim mentality with being kind to themselves. Shifting the blame from yourself to others is a coping mechanism and one that we’re all guilty of. Some people, however, turn this into Poor Me Syndrome (PMS).
In this blog, I’m going to walk you through PMS, why we do it, how to know whether you are doing it, and how to turn self-pity into self-compassion.
Poor Me Syndrome is also known much more commonly as Victim Mentality. This means that someone’s locus of control is external. In simple terms, this means that they believe that things happen to them. They are not in control of their own lives. Failures are someone or something else’s fault. People who have Poor Me Syndrome are rife with pessimism, anger, and fear.
On the other hand, people whose locus of control is internal, believe that they have the power to mold their own journeys. They know that their success and failures are a result of their own actions or inactions.
Someone who has Poor Me Syndrome will often avoid asking for what they need, they will stay in their situation or make it worse by refusing to take action. This could be a feeling of powerlessness but could also stem from habit. With the PMS mindset, they will always see their challenges as disproportionate to their opportunities, because they are identifying and wallowing in their challenges instead of creating and owning opportunities.
In Layman’s terms, Poor Me Syndrome is long-term self-pity. It’s blaming other people and environments for your conditions and unhappiness.
“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”
― John Gardner
Self-pity and Poor Me Syndrome don’t sound that great when you read about it right? Why would anyone want to languish in unhappiness? Believe it or not, unlike depression, the victim mentality certainly isn’t genetic but an acquired learned behavior. So why would anyone want to feel like this? Here are just some of the reasons:
Not everyone realizes that they are stuck in a cycle of self-pity, especially after going through something traumatic like a divorce or breakup. Here are just some of the signs to be aware of that could help you catch yourself before you descend into full-blown Poor Me Syndrome:
Luckily, all is not lost if you are struggling with Poor Me Syndrome. As mentioned, it’s a learned behavior and as such, it can also be unlearned. Turning self-pity into self-compassion is the best thing that you can do after a divorce to get your life back on track. Try some of the following points to break your self-pity habits and turn them into self-compassion:
Self-compassion doesn’t come to us naturally and it’s something that evolves and grows over time with practice and patience. I still have to consciously engage with myself to ensure that I am giving myself the right environment for positive growth, especially when things don’t go to plan.
Be kind to others, be kind to yourself and you’ll be amazed in the ways that it comes back to you.
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