Self-pity is the psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have the confidence nor competence to cope with it. It is characterized by a person's belief that he or she is the victim of unfortunate circumstances or events and is therefore deserving of condolence.
- Self-pity is not as sterile as we suppose. Once we feel its mere onset, we assume a thinker's attitude, and come to think of it, we come to think!
- Emil Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born [French: De l'inconvénient d'être né] (1973)
- Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.
- Helen Keller, as quoted in How to Help Someone Who is Depressed, or Suicidal : Practical Suggestions from a Survivor (1993) by John Cook
- Self-pity? I see no moral objections to it, the smell drives people away, but that's a practical objection, and occasionally an advantage.
- E. M. Forster, Commonplace Book, p. 50 (1985)
- Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world — making the most of one's best.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick, Statement of 1937 or earlier, as quoted in The New Speaker's Treasury of Wit and Wisdom (1958) edited by Herbert Victor Prochnow
- Self-pity is an ignoble emotion, but we all feel it, and the orthodox critical line that it represents some kind of artistic flaw is dubious, a form of emotional correctness.
- You cannot depend upon anybody. There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you — your relationship with others and with the world — there is nothing else. When you realize this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else is responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.
- Jiddu Krishnamurti, Freedom From The Known (1969)
- I never saw a wild thing
Sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
- D. H. Lawrence, Self-Pity (1929)
- One recalls how much the creative impulse of the best-sellers depends upon self-pity. It is an emotion of great dramatic potential.
- Moreover, given the unpleasant option of having to associate with either the self-satisfied beautiful or the self-pitying plain, he'd choose the former every time because beauty could sometimes transcend smugness whereas self-pity just made ugliness all the more unattractive.
- I never complained of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor suffered my face to be overcast at the revolution of the heavens, except once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes. I came to the chief of Kfah in a state of much dejection, and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of shoes with patience, and exclaimed,
"Roast fowl to him that's sated will seem less
Upon the board than leaves of garden cress.
While, in the sight of helpless poverty,
Boiled turnip will a roasted pullet be."
- Sadi, The Gulistn, or Rose Garden, trans. Edward B. Eastwick, chapter 3, story 19, p. 129 (1880).
- A modern version, often cited as an old Arabian proverb, is: "I thought I was abused because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."—J. M. Braude, Speaker's Encyclopedia of Stories, Quotations and Anecdotes, p. 338, no. 2320 (1955).