Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

# 50. They have no pity

How to feel sorry for yourself

Feeling sorry for yourself is ok. But, getting other people to feel sorry for you and then reluctantly joining in is so much more satisfying.

Although, some people display natural self pitying ability from an early age, for many of us it is a matter of practice, trial and error especially if we don’t just wish to do it alone.

Self pity should not be confused with misery however much some people seem to enjoy it. Misery usually requires a demonstration of hurt and pain whereas competent self pityists aim for the bearing stoically and silently of one’s burdens in a dignified manner which can be done alone as a silent meditation but generally it is best if other people appreciate what you are going through.

But for the newcomer tired of going it alone how can this “Enhanced Self Pity” be achieved? There are two criteria to get right - audience and subject. Getting either wrong can lead to misery which is to be avoided (see above).


Audiences are best selected from people who have nothing better to do such as your co-workers.

Many people turn to a small but significant audience consisting of their own mother and work out from there.

Your lawyer or accountant can be an excellent audience but are likely to wish to charge you for it by the minute and therefore should be treated as a last resort.

Often parents make the mistake of trying Enhanced Self Pity after they have repeatedly tried screaming, pleading, crying and bribing in their attempt to exercise control over their teenage children. However, sadly teenagers like some retirees seem immune to any suffering other than their own.

Spouses can be excellent audiences provided the subject is life threatening and you have had the foresight to take out a substantial life insurance policy otherwise they are not known for their bedside manner.


For Solitary Self Pity the subject can be entirely selfish and range from imagining your own death (however distant) to not being invited to a party. However, in Enhanced Self Pity the subject is opened to public scrutiny and therefore needs to be gritty without the consequences being too serious for you. For this reason, a terminal illness or the loss of a leg has limited appeal. It is best to focus on other people letting you down. This is acknowledged to be emotionally painful without any physical suffering on your part.

Whereas your teenage children make a lousy audience they are an excellent subject and elicit immediate sympathy even from the most cynical audience as will your boss, your spouse or aging parents.

After age 45, feeling sorry for yourself is up there with sex and getting your son to mow the lawn but only if it is done right.

Extract from Suffering 101 by Paul Brennan

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