Letting Go with Guy Finley

Letting Go with Guy Finley

10 Reasons Why Feeling Sorry For Yourself Doesn’t Work

Here is a life-saving fact, so welcome the healing it brings by being willing to see the truth hidden within it: There lives nothing real in our past — regardless of how disappointing or painful it may have been — that can grab us and make us its captive, anymore than dark shadows have the power to keep us from walking into the sunlight. Now, add to this fact the realization that there is never a good reason to go along with feeling bad about yourself, and you’re on your way to living in a world without self-pity. Call upon the following special self-study guides as needed. Use them to help strengthen your wish to be free of all dark self-compromising states.

1. The only thing feeling sorry for yourself changes about your life is that it makes it worse.


2. No matter how you look at it, you involve yourself with whatever you resist!

3. Being wrapped up in self-pity completely spoils any chance of being able to see new possibilities as they appear; besides, no one likes sour milk!

4. The only thing that grows from cultivating any dark seed of sorrow is more bitter fruit.

5. Feeling sorry for those who want you to feel sorry for them is like giving an alcoholic a gift certificate to a liquor store.

6. Anytime you embrace a dark inner state, you increase the size of its stake on your heart and mind.

7. Feeling sorry for yourself is a slow acting poison; it first corrupts, and then consumes the heart…choking it with dark and useless emotions.

8. You cannot separate the reasons you have for feeling sorry for yourself from the sorry way you feel.

9. The heart watered by tears of self-pity soon turns to stone; it is incapable of compassion.

10. Agreeing to live with sad regrets only ensures they’ll still be with you tomorrow.

  • http://FeelingSorry!!! P.N.Boatwala

    Excellent to the last word and very true indeed.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chuck

    Amen ! ! !

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kathleen

    Very well stated. We all need to read this again and again!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Marsh

    Thank you, these are all so true. I really needed these.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sher Jamison

    Thanks, I needed that! :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment lucy

    These are all very good, but I still need something more to really make it click, been this way along time.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Angela Moore

    What timing that this was in my e-mail inbox just when it was. I have been having this problem for nearly three years now, and I know that I really need to quit. Thanks!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Morag Cumming

    I agree with most of those, but…

    “Feeling sorry for those who want you to feel sorry for them is like giving an alcoholic a gift certificate to a liquor store.”

    …is one that could lead to lack of compassion if we’re not careful. “Out of work? Tough, we shouldn’t give them any welfare benefits.” “Unwell, but have no money? Tough, they should have had a better paying job so they could afford treatment.” etc, etc.

    As I said, we need to be careful over this one.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment debboe

    It’s not that I feel sorry for myself..its that I am not getting a chance to make things right after a man left me after 8 years

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lucy

    I feel sorry for anyone who is suffering from depression and undergoing treatment for depression who will come across this dismissive post.

  • Guy Finley

    Hi Lucy — My name is Kate and I help to manage this blog for Guy Finley. This post is not meant to be dismissive about the painfully real situations we find ourselves in that lead us to feel sorry for ourselves. It is actually meant to shine a spotlight on the fact that it is what we are in relationship with inwardly that determines our experience of life outwardly. But this requires self-investigation and, above all, self-honesty. The only power that dark states such as depression, resentment, anger, etc. have over me is my belief that I have no choice but to do their bidding. But I must be willing to find out for myself what happens when I challenge that dark state by NOT doing what it tells me to do, e.g. not feel sorry for myself, not give in to fear, not agree to feel hopeless. Only then can I start to see how I have been unconsciously compliant with these states — meaning, it’s not that these states have power over me, but that I’ve been *giving* power to them unconsciously. Once a person begins to suspect this, then true self-observation can begin — and the truths that Guy Finley talks about in this post begin to come to light in a helpful and healing way.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment ChrisS

    I agree with Lucy. This post is deeply, deeply unhelpful. It tells me that how I feel is bad (I know that already) while giving no assistance. It’s like a hit and run driver.

  • Guy Finley

    ChrisS — Kate with Life of Learning here. The first step in changing any unwanted condition in our life is to clearly see how we unconsciously strengthen it. For deeper insights into this topic of feeling sorry for yourself, please see this helpful Q&A on Guy’s website:


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment John Vin

    I don’t want to sound like a meanie! But I feel that the article could have at least been written much more efficiently. Most of the reasons are not tangible. They do not provide real world examples as to why feeling sorry for yourself is bad. I think it’s important to have examples because it’s easier to see the real life effects of negativity. For instance, you could say that if you’re bitter from an old love interest that fell through, you may have reservations about future romances. Or, maybe you had an argument with a family member and are too bitter to reconcile because you think you’re right over whatever you were arguing about. Or maybe even if you got a bad grade on a test and you thought you deserved to get a better score because you studied really hard. I’m just throwing out ideas.

    I also think that you rephrase some of the reasons. 1,4,6,7 and 9 all sounded really similar; if you feel sorry for yourself, you’ll just get worse. I could not, for the life of me, understand reason 8.

    What’s more, being depressed is more than just a dark state of mind. There’s countless empirical research that demonstrates it’s a psychological condition, just as alcoholism is. I’m not “offended” by reason 5, but I was a little taken aback. Sometimes it’s important to recognize that you really do need help, and you just can’t move on entirely by yourself using only tidbits of advice. How do I know? I struggled with (and still do from time to time) depression. I was in denial at first, and simply dismissed it as self pity. Self pity of course “makes it worse” as you repeat, but that’s not the sole reason for my state of mind. I won’t dive into that, because it’s somewhat boring and clinical, but the analogy I’m trying to make is that an alcoholic doesn’t necessarily love, or even like alcohol. One of the worst feelings you can have is knowing you’re feeling self pity and knowing you need “let go,” but being to pitiful, critical, hateful, etc. of yourself to do anything about it! I
    hope I could help give some perspective! Thanks!

  • Guy Finley

    Hi John — Kate with Guy Finley’s Life of Learning Foundation here. As with much of Guy’s work, the ideas in this blog post are simply intended to help a person start to question their powerlessness in the face of dark states such as self-pity. Any negativity a person feels is always a result of what they have yet to understand about themselves. Each of the ten guides listed is a seed idea that can be used to stir recognition of this truth, as relates to each person’s own experience. For instance, the idea in #8 — “You cannot separate the reasons you have for feeling sorry for yourself from the sorry way you feel” — will resonate with anyone who has ever observed that when they feel negative that everything gets painted in a negative light. This may cause them to ask the question, is it that events make me self-pitying, or is it that a self-pitying nature in me uses the event to keep me in its dark loop? When I start to suspect that it could be the latter, then now I’m not as powerless as I thought I was, because I start to see that it’s not what happens to me but the nature I meet life with that determines how I feel about those things. What comes to mind are the inspiring stories you hear about people in terrible conditions — such as prisoners of war — who were able to use their experience for self-illumination rather than be broken by it.

    Here is a page on Guy’s website that talks more in-depth about self-pity that will help to provide more insight on this important topic:


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  • Charlotte

    Thank you for this :)

  • skarpvinkel

    I have serious issues with depression.. and the one thing that really makes me pissed off, is the myth that depressed people fell sorry for themself.. let me pop your bubble: depression is about the lack of selfpity.. Its when you dont give yourself a break… and instead you continously tell yourself that your not good enough, no matter what you do.. this eventually ends up in self hate wich is the total opposite of self pity… self pity is healthy and its what normal people feel when they are sad. Sad is not the same as depression.. When your seriously depressed, feeling sad is a relief… thats what happens when the depression gets better… teling people to not feel sorry for themself is madness

  • mike

    9. The heart watered by tears of self-pity soon turns to stone; it is incapable of compassion.

    That is where I am at, that is where I have been for about 3 years now. It sucks, don’t let this happen to you. I thought it was going to be a good idea, but now that I am here, deep in it, I am not so sure that turning my heart to stone was a good choice. I have not had real, compassionate emotions for many years, and it is destroying me… but thank you for writing this column. Perhaps this will help me regain my compassion for others.

    • guyfinley

      Hi Mike — my name is Kate and I work with Guy Finley at his Life of Learning Foundation in Oregon. I am glad you have found his work, it’s like finding water in a desert. I would just encourage you to persist and take advantage of all the free material on our website and YouTube channel. We also have an online wisdom school with study groups, etc. – you’ll find more info on our site. Best wishes, Kate

  • Irene

    So people I meet either put me down or make fun of me. I bite my tongue, but then after a while I have to get mad at them. Their reaction is that I am selfish, and self-centered. These are people who I have taken care of, support, try to help out. I am shocked as a result. I am shy and desperate for attention and help out whenever I can. Now I have created a distance from them and am trying to figure out how I can change peoples perception of me, but am very depressed because I don’t know how to take care of myself. I read this article, and not sure how to apply to my life. I am afraid to just let go and live. I will be judged more so than I already am…….

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