How to Stop Wallowing in Self-Pity After Narcissistic Abuse

How to Stop Wallowing in Self-Pity After Narcissistic Abuse how to stop wallowing in self-pity after narcissistic abuse
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

“The abuse was all about them and healing is all about you”

Before we start this, I first have to acknowledge that there’s no problem with wallowing in self-pity. It can be validating especially when your current perception is feeling that no one will understand your experiences. So, don’t invalidate or let others invalidate you further by thinking that wallowing in self-pity is a bad thing or you’re a bad person because you’re wallowing in self-pity. This article is not about invalidating your experiences, it’s about validating your experience but now taking it a notch higher and helping you get out of that crippling state in your current life. Self-pity can be very paralyzing and it can prevent you from seeing the awesomeness you still have inside you.

What is Self-Pity?

Life doesn’t deal a good hand to all of us and when life has shown you unpleasant experiences like abuse, neglect, betrayal and other shortcomings you will of course feel the world is a terrible place for you. You may have experienced childhood trauma or abuse only to find yourself in another toxic relationship in your adulthood which further reinforces the idea that the world is a cruel place for you. Self-pity is this deep feeling of unhappiness about yourself and your negative experiences in life.

Self-pity is also not an emotion, it’s a state of mind which you develop as a result of your past experiences and what you’ve been through in life. You develop this mindset when you dwell so much on the negative aspects of your life. It often leads to feelings of hopelessness, sadness, helplessness and deep self-hatred. It can be great once in awhile to feel sorry for yourself as it can be a great instigator of change in your life.

What is ‘Wrong’ with Self-Pity’?

When you stay with self-pity for a very long time, it can feel like this dark pit which is very difficult to climb out of. You may stay in that dark pit for too long especially if you don’t seek help early enough to address your unhealed wounds or if you find yourself repeating (mostly unconsciously) unhealthy patterns in life. Self-pity feeds on self-pity and it’s a vicious cycle that keep you from moving forward in life. Like, when you pity yourself so much, you may fail to act in your present life and when you don’t act you will find yourself clinging onto the old negative thought patterns. When you cling to negative thoughts, your action will consciously or unconsciously flow with those thoughts.

For example, if you get stuck in the cycle of self-pity after narcissistic abuse, you will not seek help to address your unhealed wounds or you will not even learn about boundaries because you have this deep feeling that you’re helpless and even taking responsibility is a futile. So, you may find yourself binge-eating or just engaging in some unhealthy habit or even sleeping around. With extreme self-pity, you will not be aware of the dangers you’re exposing yourself to and you will not even take care of yourself. This means that you may find yourself in another toxic relationship or your health may deteriorate because of the unawareness of your habits and that’s how you fall deeper into the dark pit. So, self-pity creates more self-pity as you slide more and more into patterns that will make you feel sorry about yourself later (consciously & unconsciously).

So, How Do you Stop Wallowing in Self-Pity After Narcissistic Abuse?

1. Adopt A Strong Self-Care Routine

We need to understand that your current worldview or your ego will always seek to preserve itself. So, thinking about what you need to do may not really help that much because you have this strong identification with self-pity. That’s why the best place to start is your behaviors and actions. Your mind will not want you to take care of yourself but if you just look at your actions and build a routine around taking care of your body even when your mind doesn’t feel like, then you’ll start building yourself up. So, force yourself to take those healthy meals, force yourself to wake up early, force yourself to hit a gym or take a walk, like force yourself to take care of yourself. I am emphasizing the word ‘force’ because the moment you put it to thought, you may not do it.

So, build a routine around daily healthy habits in your life that improve your physical well-being, do not even wait for that motivation to do it, just consistently do it even when you don’t feel like. This is just more of lessening the damage self-pity will have in your life and encouraging a healthy relationship with yourself. If you take care of yourself consistently, you will start seeing improvements in your life and then your thoughts will follow. It’s like taming self-pity more to the past and literally starving it in your present life. Let me explain this further: if you don’t take care of yourself you may fall sick or grow fat and your self-piteous identity will feed on that. But If you take care of yourself you’ll feel better about yourself and even our health will improve in the present moment and self-pity will at least not have clear things to justify itself. Makes sense?

So, just do it and do not put it to thought, just take care of yourself without even justifying why you’re taking care of yourself. A question that can help you is asking yourself, “How can I take care of myself today?” and then do that. The more the routine becomes parts of your life, those thoughts will even take a slight break.

2. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts

Negative thoughts feed on negative thoughts, that’s the cycle of thinking. The main thought that will come to your head when you’re pitying yourself is “why me?” and then of course because of your past experiences the mind will feed you with “because you’re are [insert negative comment about yourself] e.g. not good enough or stupid].”

That’s the internal dialogue which mostly happens deep within us when something unpleasant happens in our lives. The key to this is not to follow along with those thoughts because when you follow along in your mind, they will lead you back to that dark pit. Negative thoughts are like sheep, they follow one another till the edge of the cliff. So, the moment those thoughts arise catch them and even journal about them. Do not continue analyzing them in your head, just pause and watch. (Read more on ruminating and overthinking here).

3. Take Full Responsibility of Your Present Life

Your healing journey is all about you, what they did to you in the past is about them and their distorted worldviews. Your thoughts will make you think that you’re helpless but actually you’re not. The fact that you can even read an article like this or even wake up in the morning regardless of how you’re feeling simply means that you can do something with your life. You’re not that helpless after all, you have the ability to turn this around so that you do not find yourself in these patterns in future. That’s the power of taking full responsibility of your present life. Not the word present life, it means that in this moment you can choose to wake up tomorrow and set intentions for your healing journey and do something for you. When you take full responsibility, you acknowledge that it’s your job to dig yourself up that dark pit even if digging yourself out of that pit means shouting to someone outside that pit to help you out. (Read more on how to take full responsibility of your healing journey here).

4. Practice Gratitude & Acknowledge the Great Things You have in Life.

The antidote to self-pity is looking at the good things you have in your life. Self-pity will make it really feel like you’re in this dark hole and you have nothing left to offer in this world. That’s where taking that gratitude journal will come in handy. There are amazing things that have happened and are happening in life. When you’re in that dark pit all you see is darkness and that’s where you light it up with practicing gratitude. So, what you can do is to take each morning and evening to write down 5 -10 you’re grateful for in your life. There are things you have that someone else doesn’t have in their lives. You write anything from your basic needs to luxuries, do not limit yourself. For example, having the ability to see, to eat, roof over your head, leaving an abusive relationship or anything.

Actually, there’s a great Stoic technique called negative visualization which can really show you the amazing things you have in your life that your mind or your current perspective is taking for granted. I’d highly recommend it (will share more about it in the future). You can check it out here. When you practice gratitude, slowly by slowly you’ll realize that your life is not the worst as your mind want you to think.

5. Change your perspective on what you Study and Learn

This is a great one to even start today. So, instead of learning of “why they did it” (e.g. why did the narcissist ABCD) or “why those unpleasant things are happening in your life”, change to learning about “how can I” (how can I stop overthinking, how to stop wallowing in self-pity, how can I stop missing the narcissist etc.). It’s more of learning about coping mechanisms instead of learning more on why those people from your past experiences hurt you. The fact that you’re focusing on “how to” means that already there is a deep shift within you and you want to really grow out of the situation. There’s no problem with learning about them but the greatest learning should be about you and not about them. When you learn about yourself and the coping mechanisms, you will immediately jump into this state of being in control of your life. It’s like you’re accepting the challenge which is being presented to you. Try this, you don’t even have to do anything practical, you’re just learning. Just binge-watch, read books, videos, podcasts, articles or any kind of content that focuses on your own personal growth. It’s a great place to start, it’s like psyching yourself up before you finally jump of the dark pit. I will share more in the future on the best ways to use knowledge when healing from abuse.


Self-pity is not a bad or a good thing but it will have negative effects in your overall well-being if you stick there long-term. It will keep you stuck in this dark prison yet all along what you need to do is to show it your ‘middle finger’ and break out of that prison. It’s not who you are, it’s just what your past experiences want you to believe. They are clouding your judgment on who you are the core of your being.

You mind will lie to you, do not trust it. It can also be a form of protection or a great survival response especially when you’ve been in a traumatic situation where you really felt helpless (like childhood trauma or narcissistic abuse).

So, don’t feel bad about yourself for wallowing in self-pity, wallow but learn and strive to take care of yourself even if every bone in your body doesn’t want to. Just do it and then slowly by slowly you’ll grow from being helpless to hopeful. Take small practical steps to really build the mental strength that will help you stop wallowing in self-pity.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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