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Question
Posted by: Anne | 2019/11/22

I like being felt sorry for

Good morning Doc, I realized many years ago that I get some satisfaction from people feeling sorry for me. I have gone through a lot in my young life and I still cannot believe I made it to adulthood. I survived! However with that said, I keep on going back to the dark places and start crying and feeling sad. I have happy moments, but when I start thinking about my life, I go into a cave which has become my most comfortable home. I can stay there for days, I am more me in that space. I sometimes force myself to feel the sadness, so I don't have to deal with anything and so that someone can ask me what is wrong. I seem to hate positivity, happiness, joy, to be honest I don't know how to deal with it. I do know I might have signs of depression but why when others want to get out of that situation, I seem to rather be in that dark place because it has become a "friend" to me. I really need to understand what is going on with me. Please help.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2019/11/26

Hello Anne,
Firstly, Welcome to adulthood, and congratulations on having made it this far.  But you are very wise indeed to recognize the severe risks of the habits of thought and behaviour you have been developing,  which could undermine your whole ability to grow and enjoy the adult world you are joining. 
There is absolutely no value whatever in deliberately "going back to the dark places" and deliberately feeling miserable.  It's even less helpful to do so hoping that other people will notice and feel sorry for you.  It's of surprisingly little value for you, especially in the long term, to have people feeling sorry for you.
It's understandable why you have found this way of reacting to your past almost comforting.  You choose to return to it, not because it's useful, but because it's familiar : you're good at feeling bad, you feel, as you say, at home in that cave of misery : it's easier to do than actually facing life head-on and developing ways of enjoying the freedom of engaging with life in a  constructive manner and finding new and fresh pleasures.
This reminds me of what Martin Seligman called "Learned Helplessness" ( look it up online !) in which people and animals who have been in situations in which they were at that particular time, unable to escape from very unpleasant experiences, easily learn to assume later that they are equally helpless when they meet nasty situations, and learn to give up, not to bother trying to get out of the situation or to create a better setting, assuming that nothing will work, so they'd better just sit there and endure it.   
It's like someone who was once unfairly placed in jail, deciding that this will be their eternal fate, and thereafter building their own personal jail and shutting themselves into it, and just sitting there.
This is where proper counselling / psychotherapy, especially of the CBT (Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy ) type, can help so much.  It helps you to breakout of the prison you built for yourself, to lose the habit of retreating into it, and to learn the skills of exploring and enjoying real life.
The more old-fashioned wishy-washy analytical type counselling does not help at all ; and especially some of the currently popular and more amateur forms of counselling that very unhelpfully encourage you to embrace eternal victim-hood,  and just sit there expecting piles of sympathy and cuddles. 
Stop feeling sorry for yourself and expecting a chorus of coos from your sympathizers,  and start feeling proud of yourself, and autonomous / independent.  It's far more satisfying !

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