Problems with Pity

Problems with Pity

My mum would always talk about how broke she was as I grew up. Yesterday, she told me how she hates that she’s living paycheck to paycheck with no room for treating herself and my sister. I’m currently visiting them and my sister just told me how my mum was complaining to her about how whenever I’m here, she has to spend more money on air-conditioning bills because I use the AC quite often, as I’m not used to the heat. Hearing that made me feel so, so bad and I can’t stand it. Then yesterday my mum told me to think of a business idea she could do to generate more money. All I could feel was just so much pity because I know she doesn’t like entrepreneurship and her asking that just felt so sad. I also feel bad because I don’t feel she really has the competency to run a business in the first place as she doesn’t have much ambition and she’s quite old now, so there would be problems even if I created a start-up for her to run.

She also doesn’t have a stable job because she’s made bad career decisions in the past and she isn’t money-smart. Growing up, I never wanted to be like her so I became very career- and money-motivated, so now I just can’t relate with her at all. I feel like she wrecked her life at every turn, though I know she doesn’t see it that way. I hate feeling like this. When I look at her, I don’t feel the love a daughter should feel for her mother. I feel overwhelming pity; like she’s a stranger begging on the street. Like she’s a charity case. And the worst part is that I’ve started to harbor a resentment towards her for making me feel like this all these years. If she had made better career decisions or had been more responsible when we had money or if she’d tried harder at her last stable job and hadn’t gotten fired, I wouldn’t have to feel like this. But I know she’s been trying her best and it’s not fair to think that way. But I can’t stand this pity. This is my other problem. Feeling pity feels really awful to me and it takes a large toll on me mentally. I always avoid reading or seeing things that make me feel pity towards someone else because pitying them makes me feel so bad emotionally. I don’t know why. I wish I could cope better with sad things because I know feeling bad will do nothing for the people who are suffering and is only hurting me.


  • It can be a difficult task to break away from what you have learned from your family, so your choice to focus on your career and independence shows great character strength.
  • Reaching out on this forum is a great step in dealing with your emotions. Some further actions that may prove helpful are exercises like journaling and mindfulness. Pity can be an overwhelming emotion, but often a secondary one, so exploring that feeling may be beneficial for you.
  • Try taking a “turning the tables” approach to see where your Mom is coming from. Perhaps if you can better understand why she feels the way she does, you will feel more empathy for the situation.
  • When pity is joined with compassion and understanding it can be a more empowering emotion and less of a negative one. Instead of avoiding stories that make you sad, learning more about the lives around you may motivate you to make a difference and feel more gratitude for the life you have.
  • The conversation with your Mom about entrepreneurship may be frustrating because it seems impossible, but you may find that opening the discussion helps you to better understand your Mom and some of her previous goals. This may also help you generate ideas of your own!


  • Is it possible that you have learned any of your strengths in your career and your life from your Mom? Why or why not? What connections can you draw?
  • How could a more positive mindset benefit both you and your Mom?
  • When is the last time that you and your Mom spent time together doing something fun?
  • What other feelings arise when you are visiting home?