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S. Jakes


Motivation, Not Self-Pity

Posted On:16-Nov-2019/11:59 am

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: comparing yourself to others is a dangerous thing. By comparing your own success to those around you, you can begin to see yourself as a failure, even when you’re succeeding. While the timelines of another’s life shouldn’t dictate your own, there may be a way to utilize their success to motivate ourselves. Although, this can be a slippery slope. By watching the success of others, say on Facebook or other social media, you could find yourself in a deep hole of depression and self-pity. However, I’m going to try to find a way to be happy for other people’s success and then use that for motivation, without self-pity.

Let me get this out in the open – I am the worst for self-pity (particularly when it has anything to do with my job). Usually, when I see that somebody else is succeeding and I’m not, I head towards a downward spiral. This happened quite recently after I ran into a former friend from high school. Running into old high school classmates can always bring up some self-pity, especially when they gloat about their wonderfully successful lives. A few days ago, I ran into a former high school friend that I was once very close with, lets call her Erika. Erika had always been the fun, wild, spontaneous friend in high school, while I was the nervous, meek friend. While shopping, we bumped into each other and started to chat about our lives. Erika had mentioned that she was moving internationally to live in the U.K. I was happy for her and gave her my congratulations but was immediately taken down a peg when she followed it with, “so, are you still living in [our home town]?”. This brought on a lot of self-pity for me. After hearing Erika go on and on about her next great adventure in England, she immediately followed it with a reminder that I was still living in the same town I’ve always lived. I went home and moped to my sister that afternoon, telling her that it made me feel awful. Then, my sister said something so simple, yet succinct, that my entire perspective immediately changed. My sister said: “if you’re upset, why don’t you just move to England?”. Obviously, I’m not going to uproot my life and move to England, but the overall point was true. If I was unhappy and embarrassed about living in the same town I’ve always lived in, then why don’t I move? Instead of finding self-pity when learning of another’s success, I should use it as motivation to find my own success. Running into Erika may have been initially embarrassing, but by comparing my life to hers, I was able to find what I was missing in my own.

If you hear that a coworker was promoted, work harder for the next promotion. If you see that a friend went on a vacation, work towards that same goal. While I understand that life isn’t this black and white, when faced with the success of others, don’t run from it, follow it, you may find your own success on the same path.


1 : It is easy to get demotivated and have self-pity when you hear about the successes of others.

2 : Some people brag about their success because they want you to feel bad. Ignore them!

3 : Instead, use other people’s success to motivate yourself. If they can do it, so can you!

Category:  Motivation / Subcategory:  Goal Setting

Tags: Success, Comparing Yourself, Depression, Work, Promotion, Goal, Demotivation

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D. C. Lawrence


S. Jakes, the key here is goal-setting, plain and simple. I do understand your logic, but you do not have to wait for others to succeed before planning for your own success. I am also a firm believer that successful people are also lucky. That is, because they constantly set goals and always work diligently toward goal attainment, they often come across opportunities that seem to “fall in their laps”. My advice-set your own goals and keep working hard. Good things will happen eventually. Thanks.

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S. Jakes


Adaego--ditto to one or two people in our life taking pleasure trying to make us feel small. We can definitely do without them :-)

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Bruce Peters


“If you hear that a coworker was promoted, work harder for the next promotion”--S. Jakes, the theme of your duppydom rings true. I do performance reviews with my staff all the time and I hear complains from them all the time. I always find it interesting that some employees envy their coworkers’ successes. So, instead of sulking, why not just work harder?

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Adaego M. Azi


Jakes, funny how all of us have one or two people in our life who take pleasure in making us feel small. They are always bragging about something in their life, tying to make us question our happiness. I agree with you--in this day and age it is easy to get demotivated and wallow in self-pity. I think a lot of women judge themselves based on what they see around them--like what they see on social media. I think the best way to prevent this is just to have your own goals and keep working at them, no matter what other people do or say :-)