Something unfortunate happens to someone and, all things being relatively equal, you feel bad for them. At least a little bit; maybe even for one and three-quarters of a second. Anyway, mentally or verbally, you go “Aww, poor baby.” Or something like that – don’t judge me.

We say it to sympathise with someone who’s gone through something unpleasant. When it’s said directly to the person, the message likely to be received is that they’re being pitied – which is what I’m getting at. The desire to be pitied. You’ve seen it in people, and even in yourself (assuming that you have an honest relationship with ‘your you’). It’s usually seen in a person’s actions, as opposed to their words. I say that with the assumption that people don’t go around saying “You. Yes, you. Come here and pity me.”

I’ll propose that this phenomenon/behaviour is ingrained in us. This will remain a proposal for the remainder of this article as I currently don’t have the energy to dig into the human psyche or biology and state with certainty that this desire is indeed as fundamental a trait as our desires to be fed and kept safe. What I will say for a fact is that we crave attention. Undebatable. Shy or not. Introverted or otherwise. We want others to care about us. And if that care happens to be felt and expressed as pity (which is inherently negative) towards us, we’ll take it. We’re that desperate. You’re that desperate. But it’s okay. Not really, but it’s normal.

The idea that humans seek external validation is so far from new that I’m not entirely sure why you’re reading this. In this context, when someone feels bad for you, you allow yourself to think “I know, right? I didn’t deserve that at all.” And of course, the all too common next step is to take no steps at all. No progress. No moving forward from the bad situation that you didn’t deserve “at all”. It’s easy to accept your situation and do nothing about it, especially when someone else agrees that it really is not ideal. The comfort provided by this show of empathy – by the nearly inevitable “Aww, poor baby ” – is something that I’ve found is easy to enjoy. Really. To the point of making you think that you’re perfectly sane for hoping that something doesn’t quite pan out how you want it to, just so that you can rush off to collect your well-earned “poor baby” from whoever will hand it to you. Just me? Wow, okay.

It’s a bad habit, and we know it. Find whatever else works for you. More gratitude? Less time spent thinking about the situation? More time spent finding solutions? Do it. Break the habit, and tell me how it goes. Perhaps I’ll try it myself.


This article was written by Deji Adefila connect with her on IG here

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