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The Importance of Self-Pity

We tend to learn self-pity when we’re young.
也许 你九岁的时候 在一个阳光明媚的周日下午
Maybe it was a sunny Sunday afternoon; you were nine years old. Your parents wouldn’t let
若你未完成数学作业 父母就不让你吃冰淇淋 这真是太不公平了
you have any ice cream if you didn’t do your maths homework. It was achingly unfair.
Every other child in the world was playing football or watching TV. No one else
没有人有一个如此无情的母亲 这真是太糟糕了
has such a mean mother. It was just awful.
理论上说 我们都反感自怜 它如此不招人喜欢
We’re all – in theory – dead against self-pity. It seems deeply unattractive because it reveals
因为它是利己主义的最基本的体现 我们没能在更宏大的人类历史长河中
egoism in its most basic form, the failure to put our own suffering into proper perspective
against the larger backdrop of human history.
我们对自己的小不幸悲痛不已 却对世上发生的大灾难漠不关心
We lament our tiny disasters and look coldly on the grand tragedies of the world.
一个人刘海的问题 或是一块煎坏的牛排
A problem with one’s fringe, or a wrongly cooked steak
都会让我们苦恼半天 我们却对中国的工作环境 和巴西的基尼系数一无所知
dominates the mind while we ignore the working conditions in China and the gini coefficient of Brazil.
No one likes to own up to self-pity.
然而 坦白说 自怜的确是大家常常能感受到的
And yet, if we are honest it’s something we feel quite often.
而且 事实上 通常这是一种很亲切和重要的情感
And in fact it’s often rather a sweet and indeed important emotion.
实际上我们需要很多同情 比他人所可能给予的还要多得多
The fact is we do deserve a great deal more pity than other people are ever very likely to bestow upon us.
Life is in truth horrendously hard in many ways.
即使一个人拥有顶级的数据计划 和一台设计优美的冰箱
Even if one does have a top notch data plan and an elegantly designed fridge.
Our talents are never fairly recognised.
Our best years will necessarily drift away.
我们会有低落绝望之时 我们不能保证在需要爱时 爱会如期而至
We won’t find all the hope. We won’t find all the love we need.
我们值得同情 然而身边没有其他人能够给予我们
We deserve pity and there isn’t anyone else around to give it to us.
So we have to supply a fair dose of it to ourselves.
站在一个更高的角度看 这个自怜产生的原因 可能听起来很荒谬:
The operative cause might, from a lofty perspective, seem ridiculous:
我真可怜 从未开过法拉利 好伤心啊 我以为我们会去日本餐馆 结果他们订的是酒馆
Poor me, I’ll never drive a Ferrari. It’s so sad. I thought we were going to a Japanese restaurant and they have booked a pub.
但这些触发自怜的原因 能使人更快地把注意力转向更大的问题:
But these are just the convenient opportunities for immersing ourselves in a much bigger issue:
那就是根本性感伤的存在 使我们真的需要最温柔的怜悯
The fundamental sorrows of existence for which we do genuinely deserve the most tender compassion.
如果我们连自怜都不会 想象事情将会如何 我们的精神会饱受折磨
Imagine what things would be like if we couldn’t pity ourselves. We would be that far worse category of
变得悲观消沉 这样的人已然丧失了自怜的功能
mental discomfort – depressed. The depressed person is someone who has lost the art of self pity.
Who has become too rigorous with themselves
想想当父母在安慰自己的孩子时 他们常常把目光放在了琐事上:
If you think of a parent comforting a child, they often spend hours on very minor things:
丢失的玩具 Nunu(玩具名)坏掉的眼睛 一个没被邀请到聚会的孩子
A lost toy, Nunu’s broken eye, the children’s party to which one wasn’t invited.
父母的安慰并不荒唐 他们实际上在教导孩子 如何照顾好自己
They are not being ridiculous. They are in effect teaching the child how to look after themselves.
让孩子有机会了解到一个重要的观点 就是小小的伤心 可能会对心灵造成巨大伤害
And giving space to the important idea that small upsets can have very large internal consequences.
渐渐地 我们从父母身上学习到这种态度 并在无人同情自己时进行自怜
Gradually we learn to mimic this parental attitude and come to be able to feel sorry for ourselves when no one else will.
自怜不一定是完全合理的 但它是一种应对机制
It’s not necessarily entirely rational, but it’s a coping mechanism. A first protective
是人类进化发展的第一层防御壳 能使我们避免被生活巨大的失落所吞噬
shell which we develop in order to be able to manage some of the immense disappointments
and frustrations that life throws at us. The defensive posture of self-pity is far from
它是感人的 并且很重要
contemptible. It is touching and important.
许多宗教发明了神灵 为自怜作出解释
Many religions have given expression to this attitude by inventing deities
who look with inexpressible pity upon human beings.
比如在天主教中 圣母玛利亚因怜悯人类生活的痛苦 常常落下同情的泪珠
In Catholicism for instance, the Virgin Mary is often presented as weeping out of tenderness for the miseries of the normal human life.
如此善良神圣的神灵 正说明我们需要同情
Such kindly divine beings are really just projections of our own need to be pitied.
Self-pity is compassion that we extend to ourselves.
自我中更成熟理智的一面 会来帮助脆弱迷失的部分
A more mature aspect of the self, turns to the weak and lost parts of a psyche
它会安慰它们 轻抚它们 告诉它们它能理解 它们其实很可爱只是被误解了
and comforts them, strokes them, tells them it understands and that they are indeed lovely but misunderstood.
它让这些受伤的灵魂 当一会儿小孩
It allows them to be, for a while, a bit babyish.
因为像个孩子 其实 很多时候才更接近我们的本真
Since that is, actually, what we all are in large part.
自怜给予了每一个孩子 甚至是大人所需的 不求回报和真切踏实的爱
It provides the undemanding, confirming love that every baby, but far more importantly every adult
needs to get through the anguish of existence.



通过形象的比喻 说明了自怜作为一种人体防御机制的重要性