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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  • Darkness

    I have been trying to self diagnose myself since about the 6th grade. That is when I became self aware that something was wrong with me, I just did not know what and how to deal with it, only to hide it from most everyone. A few friends would have seen it in my desire sit on the train tracks and wait for the train but that was it. And we were young enough that would not have raise any red flags or worries in someone my own age, pre-teen or there about. Now I think it must have been puberty. I became withdrawn, not the class clown I was before. I became head over heals in love with a girl from 3rd grade that came back in to my life in the 6th. I was now afraid to even talk to girls. I could not think of anything or anyone else but this girl.

    In the 7th grade we went to different schools becaue we did not live to close to each other. My life started to get back to normal although I was still afraid of girls. I went out with friends but kept to myself. The school dance, I sat and watched, there was no way I was going to try and dance with a girls, and I never did.

    My dad tells me when I was young I did not need people. Kids would come over to play and I would say no I was too busy. I spent a lot of time playing with my wooden blocks building things and pretending.

    I learned to control my dreams. I was aware I was dreaming and would do what ever I wanted in my dreams. When a dream started to get out of hand I would scream “MOM” and wake myself up, basically resetting the mind game. I spent a lot of time with my dad, he was working on his PHD at that time, and his friends (PHD classmates) and did not like spending time with the immature kids my age.

    My fantasy’s of child hood were more like I would expect from a girl. I wanted LOVE, one person to spend the rest of my life with, a big wedding, to ride in “a knight on a white horse” and give my bride everything she wanted. She would never have to work. Well maybe that is boyish and not so girlish. But I wanted my first time (sex) to be special and with the one girl I loved. The one I could not talk to face to face.

    By now in High-school (9th grade) there she was again and any normal life I had hoped for or been working towards was back to withdrawing. We reconnected and over the HS years would talk on the phone for hours. She told me how good I made her feel. This became sexual for her and I lied and said me to. But my love had nothing to do with sex or sexual feeling (I thought). She told me she had been with many boys and I told her that was ok. She was popular and they were to. I did not belong to any group although I was friends with all of them, the kickers, punk rockers, nerds, jocks, popular’s….. I asked one of my punk rocker friends were I belonged as I did not really fit into any of the groups. He said, your a square.

    Sometime during my High School years I stopped drinking. I had started drinking Mad Dog 20/20 in the 6th grade. I could walk in to 7-11 and buy it myself (late 1970’s). I soon graduated to Jack Daniels Black Label. I started going to more parties trying to be more like the other normal kids. It got so expensive to get drunk and after waking up once not knowing where I was and what had happened the night before, I quit drinking. I tried once to be normal and managed to ask another girl out on a date. One date and that was it. It was just award, I had no Idea how to act or what to do. Dinner and a Movie and dropped her off at home. I just could not say anything. I was the first of my friends to be old enough to drive but I was the last to get my drives license (by choice). So my dad drove us on my one date. By now I was starting to cut myself. I just told my dad in Dec 2015, no one ever new.

    I was going through and internal struggle. I recently found a diary my parent gave me in 1982 and it just makes me sick. I constantly try to tell myself to stop being dumb and just do it, be normal. After graduating from HS I kept in touch with my one love off and on and in the end she said she did not want to ruin our friendship by dating and that she could not have made it through HS without me. WTF!!!!

    After that, still a virgin with false hope, I gave up and had sex with all the girls that asked me. It was great and turned out I was good at it because for me it was/is all about your partner. As a mid 20’s year old getting off was not a tough job, you just have to make sure your partner did first. But I was still empty inside! Looking back there were several girls over the years that wanted my attention. I had just been blinded by this false love for one girl from the 3rd grade!

    So 1989 I state it is all over. There is one more entry in 1992/3 after I started working in another state and nothing more.

    I tried over the years do join dating sites and went out with some, had sex with some and married one. After getting married it was like a dark comedy. Nothing about me was good enough. She told my parents she thought she could change me. I had my own home, car, a few $100K in stock, basically a spoiled bachelor with everything he wanted but “true love”. Over the years I tried to make it work, we had two kids, separated, and finally divorced. Again I tried to do the right thing and gave here everything and just moved out.

    So what happened to my cutting? Oh, I also burned myself for a while. A cut piece of wire hanger filled smooth and heated to a bright glow on the stove will leave a nice round dot. I would burn the flesh black and end up with a nice round white dot to live with. I recently realized, maybe just rationalized, that I replaced self mutilation with carelessness. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain so I let me body be damaged, even broken bones. I refused to take pain pills, but the wife loved them so I unknowingly feed her issue.

    I move to another state (in with my parents) to try and start over. I went back to school to get another degree and try and sort my life out. My ex used up everything I left her and continued to ask for more. Turns out she was Bi-polar and now a recovering addict/alcoholic and I am suffering for depression and possible TBI ( I coincidentally suffered from around 1987-89). Were both on disability now. I tried to help her and moved her and my kids to Texas to live close by so I could help with the kids. In three months she got a DWI with our boys in the car. The Hewitt police department did nothing. We all met with CPS and we and our fathers signed a contract for her to get help while I cared to for the boys and we would re-evaluate in about 6 months. After her 30 day treatment she got out and her dad came from New Mexico to visit. She asked to have the boys over night and I naively said ok. Her dad, a retired New Mexico 3 star General with lots of pull, took her and our children and went back to NM. CPS states we signed a contract and they deemed it closed. The Police say we had joint custody, they had not established 6 month residency in Texas and the CPS contract was only voluntary. Nothing can be done.

    I go back to NM and spend 15 months and thousands of dollars waiting for Lady Justice to fix this mess. In all this time I learn the legal system is just a bunch of BS! Those with the money and pull rule the day. “Justice” is just a figment of your imagination. We simply live by these laws to make ourselves fell better and that we are safe and everything will be fair and right. It is all a lie. Just like “The Matrix” it is all fake! Nothing matters. You don’t like the way your life is going then quit the game early. Problem with that is death is NOT the end. You will just have to do it all again from scratch, a new baby. Maybe a better life, maybe a worse life. Maybe on this planet, maybe not. Your energy (spirit) moves on. Time only exist in this physical world. When your body dies and you energy moves on time no longer exists.

    So now I think do I quit early and risk staring over? I would rather just cease to exist but I don’t believe I can. I hate myself and the waist of life I have lead. But I am very talented, again wasted all my life. I hate the idea I have to justify myself, and my life. I have seen doctors and taken med’s since about 2007 now, when I went on Disability. The doctors ask “what do you want to work on?”. How much more clear can I be, I want to know what is wrong with me and FIX IT!!!!! I want my brain examined after I am gone. I hope there is something physical wrong and it is not just “in my head”. How cruel is that to be born this way. God, what God? Just another term we came up with to make this selfish animal feel better. Don’t get me wrong death is not the end but there are no “pearly gates”. Hitler is treated no different the Mother Teresa on the other side. This is just a lesson for the soul. Sometimes your the person beating someone else to death and sometimes your the one being beaten!

    The “Necessary” evil.

    I am broken, and I have only attracted women that are broken. It has not been good for me!

    I simply feel sorry for myself, Self pity, Hatred, mostly hatred I think. I have wasted most of my life on this feeling. Now I fantasize about punishing those I feel did this to me or that screwed me over during my life.

    At 49 I feel I have failed in life because I tried to do the right thing, in my mind anyway, I thought helping others was what I should be doing even at the determent of my own life. Was I supposed to suffer life? I think maybe I should have been mean and evil and maybe my life would have been better. I could have been selfish and ended up like Donald Trump or someone. Use others to better yourself. It seems the human animal, which is what we truly are “animals”, simply pretends to be better then other animals because of our self awareness.

    We are not better then other animals. What other animals kills for pleasure? What other animal mates for pleasure? The human animal is all about self pleasure.

    I am no different. I read this and it is all about self pleasure. I did not get enough self pleasure in my life and it is YOUR fault not mine.

    Would it be better for me to die and maybe spare others the news headlines we see so often now. Am I really that person? Did they try to self diagnose? Were they self aware? Why was I the one in ten chance of surviving my birth? Why couldn’t I have been one of the nine that did not survive?

    Is this destiny? Or just more bull shit?

    I am a broken part that should have been removed from the assembly line decades ago. My longer life only means that more people suffer me. How can I erase my existence? I can’t, I can just ride this broken life and try to do what is best, try to stay sane, try to NOT cause others the pain I have suffered (Imaginary or not).

    I don’t no.

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