If you feel sorry to tears – no matter who – a loved one, a puppy, or a movie hero – this article is for you.
From time to time, clients come to consult with this cloud of experiences, where guilt, pity and love merge together. Sometimes it becomes important for a person to sort out their feelings in order to grow emotionally and take the next step.
Today I will try to express what I managed to dig up in the course of such joint research. These are subtle psychological matters. Usually they don’t talk about it. They feel it. Therefore, the language is figurative in places.
There is an opinion, Castaneda seems to have spoken about this, that pity for others is such a metastasis of self-pity. My observations suggest that there is still a difference. Feeling sorry for yourself, you lose energy (I talked about this last time). By pitying others, you can receive an influx of energy – the motivation for caring.
Self-pity means declaring oneself pitiful and demanding pitying motherly love from another who is not pathetic. This is the desire to trust the patron. If the patron is angry, he can be pityed with tears – and switched to derogatory care.
In pity, not for oneself, but for another, there is something constructive and light. We feel sorry for the holy and at the same time defenseless – that which deserves salvation. Holy means valuable. Defenseless means in danger. Therefore, most often it is a pity for animals and children.
This is the logic of the soul. By the soul, as usual, I mean the psyche.
It is also a pity for an adult person if this composition of defenseless holiness can be traced in him. This can be, for example, a kind, caring, but naive parent.
Please note that no one regrets independent, self-confident people. Sorry for the defenseless and innocent. For example, an injured puppy. He himself appears to be pure and helpless. But the puppy will be doubly sorry if he is also tame and affectionate. Here it is holy and defenseless – both the puppy himself and his naive trust in you. Trust wants to be saved and preserved.
On the other side, the self-pitying person seeks to trust the patron in order to feel safety and comfort. Therefore, it is not even a person who is sorry, but his child’s trust. I do not want to betray trust. It seems like we are “responsible for those who have tamed” …
Therefore, sometimes you care about a person not because you love, but because he loves you. Another’s trust seems to be unconditional love – a special value that one wants to preserve. It is your own need for unconditional love.
A space of care and love
I have analyzed self-pity with many clients, and I have found that almost everyone unconsciously believes in a particular ideal space of care and love. You tune in to him somewhere deep down. You are connected to this light space, while you yourself care and love.
If you don’t feel sorry for the puppy, then “you’re guilty” – you no longer have the right to the space of care and love. It closes – and your personal world darkens, the program of mutual assistance is removed from it. The world begins to seem cold and cruel, and you yourself become callous.
We feel sorry for our idealism, sorry for ruining children’s fairy-tale hopes, sorry for ourselves, naive, small, who believes in unconditional love. It is the child within us that protects its hope for light. And I want to save him.
We feel sorry for those who take care of us without obvious benefits for themselves. Against the backdrop of a ruthless reality, their concern is sacred. I would like to justify and save her.
Here pity is the fear of betraying something sacred in your soul. And there, in the soul, this light is opposed to darkness. It is like a fragile flower of life and love in the midst of indifferent chaos. You feel that there is no place for him in the world – the world is too rough and merciless. To save this flower means to affirm life, to transcend the cold soulless reality.
When you feel sorry for a person, you want him to be happy, so that the fragile flower of love will survive and bloom. I want to save him, and place him in paradise, where he blooms.
Pity can accompany a worrying anticipation of guilt. You have not ruined the flower yet, it is in your hands. And if you have already ruined, you feel guilty – you betrayed the space of care and love. Guilt encourages correction in order to return the right to love.
I repeat, I am not talking here about some objective laws of life, but only about the irrational logic of the soul.
You probably noticed that they feel sorry for themselves incomparably more often than others. Finding defenseless holiness in another person is not easy. You see the surface: his adult body, you see how stupidly he acts. His inner, secret remains hidden from prying eyes. Therefore, no matter how stubbornly he pity himself, you do not pity him.
But you feel the depth of your soul. At least vaguely. On the other side, something sacredly fragile is phoning – your inner child. I want to save him.
Sometimes pity is confused with contempt. You perceive a person as a “pathetic nonentity.” But you don’t feel sorry for him at all.
You feel contempt when someone else’s self-pity seems out of place. Maybe, deep down, you want pity too, but you forbid it to yourself. And the person next to himself does not bind himself with such a prohibition, and unrestrainedly regrets himself. So I want to tell him: “pull yourself together, rag!” That is, someone else’s intemperance is annoying when you shackle yourself.
Self-pity is a childish attitude: “I have the right to love because I am small and good.”
Pity for others is a mature attitude: “I have the right to love, because I myself care.”
Self-pity is a healthy feeling for a child. But it is harmful in adulthood.
Moderate pity for the helpless is a healthy feeling at any age.