Is having no self confidence a great way to get sympathy?

Is having no self confidence a great way to get sympathy?

Many years ago I went through a number of courses ran by Landmark Education and during one of them I was asked if I was aware of a habit they had noticed I had of using my lack of self confidence to get sympathy from people. At first when it was pointed out I was very upset and annoyed – how dare this person I thought, they don’t even know me! However, with time and self reflection I could actually see some truth in it.

Negative attention was always better than no attention at all for me and I used my excuses as a single mother, or not having enough money, or not being able to drive my car and a 101 other excuses not only to keep me limited in life but also to enjoy the sympathy I would get from other people. They would reassure me that it was fine I couldn’t make their event or afford their product. They listened to my stories (also known as excuses) about why I didn’t get something done or why it was I was late.

If you lack self confidence right now you may be looking for sympathy from other people either about yourself “I hate the way I look in this dress” so they say “No. You look great!” or about your circumstances and I am here to tell you that it really isn’t worth it. A far more powerful way to live is to build yourself up so you don’t feel the need to get attention in this way because it is draining for the other person (constantly having to tell you how great you look really is exhausting for them) and for you because the high it gives you is temporary. You feel great for a little while before slumping back down into your mood of no self confidence.

Look For Other Ways You Gain Attention

I love this video from Zig Ziglar as a great way to demonstrate someone who constantly complains, he mentions that sometimes people complain but they don’t actually want you to solve their problem because then they will have nothing to complain about. For me getting sympathy for having no self-confidence is the same. You don’t want to focus on building your self confidence because then you think you will lose all the attention you are getting… you may have to sit and ponder whether that is true for you.

The thing to recognize is that people always prefer to spend time around someone who is happy and upbeat rather than someone who spends most of their time complaining so when you take the time to build your self confidence you always win.

I had a family member who used illness as a way to get attention. He would seek attention from anyone he could for the smallest thing – even a paper cut had a big story behind it and a lengthy tale of how much it hurt and for how long. Eventually, what can happen is that you make yourself ill for attention or even worse you end up very ill and every day you use that to get attention.

If seeking attention through illness is something you take part in I urge you to GIVE IT UP! Knowing that your thoughts create your reality and understanding as a women thinketh so shall she be why entertain thoughts of illness just for the sake of attention?

In the past I was quite hard on my children when they were ill. Because of this close family member and their habit to get love and attention through illness I wanted mine to never associate illness with extra attention so when they were ill I would almost tell them to “suck it up and get over it!!!” some days I still do :)
I won’t entertain them complaining about a cold and will get them to focus on wellness but I also appreciate as a child when you feel lousy you just want a hug. The trick for me was making sure they always got a hug – whether they were ill or well – so that it didn’t seem at times of illness that they got more attention from me.

What if we did the same exercise as explained in the video?

I like my life because….

Think about that and also reflect on whether you use your lack of confidence to keep you stuck in life so that you can gain sympathy from other people.

As Zig Ziglar said “people who won’t take step number one will never take step number two”

What is step number one for you? Is it writing down why you like your life? Is it buying a book that will help you build self confidence or maybe an eBook on assertiveness for beginners :)

Whatever it is take that first step and change your life. I am a breathing example of the fact that it can be done (just in case you use the excuse it’s too hard to get sympathy!)


  1. I had an aunt who spent all her time complaining about her life but never did anything to change it because she was so afraid. I think without help it can be difficult to know where or how to start and if people around you put up with your complaining sometimes it is easy to never get started.

  2. I am given something to think about now because I never really thought about it in that way – thank you for the great post

  3. I can definitely see how it could be used in that way and recognize that sometimes I do pretend to be ill to get attention from my parents even though I am an adult now. It seems to be the only time they stay in touch

  4. Thank you all for your comments. Sometimes we may not even know we are doing this and it becomes an exercise in awareness and how we relate to other people to discover how true it is for us. The first step in overcoming this once you are aware of it is to simply keep a journal and spend time in self reflection. At first you will find that you have said or done something to gain sympathy, then as you become more self aware you will be able to stop yourself in the moment and change your words and/or actions.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Click HERE to subscribe to Inspirational Guidance via email and receive our latest personal growth and spiritual blog post (including affirmations) sent to you