How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself: 10 Steps That Work

How to Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

When you fail, make a mistake or things simply don’t go as well as you had hoped then how do you feel?

Do you feel sorry for yourself? Well, that’s natural in some situations and to an extent.

But do you get stuck in that mental state too often and for far too long?

If that’s the case then this guide is for you.

Because in it I’d like to share 10 steps that have helped me to stop feeling sorry for myself.

Simple habits and techniques that have helped me to reduce and overcome this issue in my life and to stop spending so much time and energy on it.

Now, let’s get started.

1. Breathe.

First, calm your mind and body down a bit to think more level-headedly and clearly.

This simplest way to do that?

Just sit down. Close your eyes.

And then breathe through your nose and with your belly.

Focus only on the air going in and out. Nothing else.

Do that for 1-2 minutes (I like to set a timer on my smart phone so I don’t try to finish early).

This will center you and make you feel more focused again.

2. Zoom out into the world (and then tap into gratitude).

Ask yourself: does anyone on this planet have it worse than me right now?

This question helps me to see things from a wider perspective.

I often follow it up with asking myself:

What are 3 things I can be grateful for but often take for granted?

Well, I can be thankful for many such things.

Thing like:

  • Fresh water.
  • Three steady meals a day.
  • A roof over my head.

Just these first two steps is often enough for me stop feeling sorry for myself and not get stuck in self-pity.

If not, then I move on to…

3. Zoom out in your own life.

Ask yourself this about the situation that has caused you to feel sorry for yourself:

Will this matter in 5 years? Or even 5 weeks from now?

The answer is most usually for me that it actually won’t.

But I’m sometimes a bit hasty to make a mountain out of a molehill.

4. Find one opportunity or lesson in the situation you’re in.

This can help you to see what happened to you in more optimistic and constructive light.

That doesn’t mean that it’s all of a sudden a great situation that you’ve found yourself in.

But it’s in my experience important to do not only to add a dash of optimism.

But also because the toughest situations that I’ve felt the worst about have helped me in the long run.

They have taught me one or several very important lessons that have been game-changers or at least been quite valuable things to keep in mind.

5. Set a time-limit for yourself.

One thing I do from time to time when I’m in a negative emotional state like feeling sorry for myself or seeing things through a negative lens is to be OK with that.

To embrace it.

But with a deadline and for just a little while.

Because we have to process what has happened. Take in all the emotions, thoughts or shock that a situation caused.

Pushing that aside right away can lead to those thoughts and feelings popping up later in unexpected situations and ways.

So take for example 10 minutes to just feel sorry for yourself. But then, as those minutes are up, move on into a more constructive headspace and focus forward once again.

6. Get out of your own head by helping someone else out.

To avoid getting stuck in a downward spiral of self-pity focus outward. On someone else. Focus on giving one or more people in your life value.

This will get you outside of your own head and you’ll feel good for helping out in some way.

And then feel even better as you see the other person’s face light up thanks to what you did.

A couple of good ways to give value and to help out are:

Helping out practically.

Maybe someone needs help moving. Or setting up things for his party this weekend. Or with finding information for a decision that he’s making.


Just be there fully and listen to someone as she vents about a situation in her life.

And if she asks then offer some advice or a discussion about what can be done to improve upon the situation she is in.

Be kind to someone in your everyday life.

Be kind to a stranger by holding up the door, letting him or her into your lane while driving or helping out with directions if he seems lost in your city.

7. Look into your possible future.

Ask yourself: what will the consequences be if I keep this up?

How will my life look in 1 year if I too often fall back into feeling sorry for myself for too long? And in 5 years?

How will it affect my relationships?

How will affect my chances of reaching my goals and dreams?

Write down your answers and use them as a motivation to move forward once again the next time you feel that you’re starting to get lost in those negative thoughts.

8. Create a reminder and keep it close by.

I used one that said “no victim thinking for 30 days” on my smart phone. It popped up every morning with the help of the free Google Keep app.

Another good way to use a reminder is to write your message to yourself down on a piece of paper and put it in your bedside table. Then it’ll be one of the first things you see each day.

A couple of suggestions for what to write could be:

  • It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself for 10 minutes. But then move forward and into action again.
  • What are 3 things I can be grateful for in my life but I too often take for granted?

9. Draw up a small plan (and take just one step to move forward with it).

One of the best ways to move on from a mental state where you don’t feel like you have much personal power to change your situation is to take one small step.

And to create a small plan – or the start of one – for how you can improve or move away from the situation that have made you feel sorry for yourself.

So just sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. And brainstorm for 3-5 minutes to find one or a few small steps forward.

Then get the ball rolling right away.

Take just one of those small or tiny steps forward to put your plan into action. This will make you, in my experience, feel empowered and better about yourself and your life.

10. Ask yourself: how can I prevent getting stuck in the same trap in the future?

Finally, after you feel more empowered and constructive and have gotten the ball rolling with your plan take a couple of minutes and ask yourself the question above.

Think about what you can do differently the next time something goes wrong or when you start feeling sorry for yourself for too long.

A couple of the things that have helped me the most with this are:

  • Reading through the note with the future consequences written on it.
  • Reminding myself to talk to someone about it as soon as possible to be able to vent and figure things out for myself. And if I need it then to also have a constructive discussion with this person about what I can do to improve upon the situation I’m in. Or sometimes I simply let this person help me to ground myself again and to not make a mountain out of a molehill.
  • Reminding myself that just a start of a plan and taking one small step forward to get going with it can change how I feel and my mental state in a big way.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • champika. senanayake

    Great article .Keep it up. Thanks a lot.

  • Lorene D'Adam

    Henrik, Your ideas and suggestions are gentle, forgiving, uplifting, kind. You have such a wonderful way of describing our not so great habits of thinking and doing and leading us to a better way. Thank you so much. I absolutely love you!

  • Nathan

    Thanks for the advice, exactly what I needed to hear this morning. This will make a positive difference throughout my day at work. And hopefully through my career!

  • Anonymous

    very nice.ALLAH BLESS U.

  • Wonderful tips – love reading your posts.

  • Kgali

    Once again, you share a beautiful piece of work Henrik. Thank you for always lifting my spirit.
    Lots of love to you all the way from South Africa.

  • The positivity blog post is very needed for every person life in the very busy shedule of human being.


  • Amazing article. thanks for sharing.

  • “Zoom out into the world (and then tap into gratitude)”

    Love this!

    I learned my big life lesson from a little boy. It was from a movie based on a true story – mum and boy were kidnapped. What an awful situation they must be in, right? If I were him, I’d be crying all day long, lying on the bed like I’m already dead. But no, he’d start his day with a pleasant morning ritual with greetings to all objects around him – “Good morning, bed. Good morning Curtain, Good morning, Cup” and so on.

    It taught me we could see millions of things around us that we could be grateful for. Happiness is like air. It’s with us, everywhere. Go through everything around you and you’ll see there are already SO many things that make us happy and grateful.

    No time to feel sorry for ourselves :)

    (Oh, don’t worry the boy and mun have their happy ending.)

  • Vicky

    Very helpful. Thanks for your usual insightful posts.

  • Thank you for another informative post Henrik, I particularly like your advice on creating a time-limit. Goals become much more easier to accomplish when there’s a time limit!

  • Yes, It is Necessary For Every Blogger To Keep Motivated During His Journey. Thanks For Sharing This Article.

  • Hi, Henrik Edberg
    Thanks for sharing these inspirational tips which definitely help me to live life positively.