You don’t know how bad I have it. No one understands the obstacles in my way. If only everyone knew how unfair it was. I deserve it, I’m so much better than the others.
All of us think some variation of the statements above from time to time.
Life is hard. Things happen and we often find ourselves faltering under a heavy load of tasks, challenges or frustrations. Self-pity often starts with a significant event, something that many others would agree is difficult. But once we open a door to self-pity, a flood of increasingly trivial grievances ensues.
I can really dislike sharing. Just ask my husband. But in an effort to illustrate the progression of self-pity, I will use a few of my own self-pity triggers as an example. Watch how self-pity begins with a legitimate struggle and ends with a list of petty complaints.
- I have bilateral neuropathy in my legs and arms since having my son
- I have celiac disease
- I have knee arthritis
- I have wrist tendonitis, making it difficult to write, cook, sew, lift Wade, among others
- I have a highly restricted diet – no gluten, dairy, no FODMAPs, no caffeine, no soda, gum, candy (the list goes on)
- I’m unable to be a FT stay-at-home-mom
- I need a root canal
- I have itchy skin
- I’m starting to get wrinkles
- My boss edits my work
- My bathroom has laminate counter top
- My kitchen drawers don’t have ball-bearings
- It’s sooo cloudy outside
Self-pity leads in only one direction, regardless of the size of our complaints. But where does the process begin?
Let me refresh your memory:
- You go out into the world and experience one of the following –
- You are rejected. You fail. You don’t get your way. You are criticized. You see someone else has what you want. You have to work harder than you wanted.
After a day of these experiences, many of us want to run home to the warm embrace of self-pity. It becomes comfortably familiar to us like a favorite shirt – warm, safe. There’s no comfort like self-comfort.
So what’s really wrong with self-pity? A few things for starters:
- Self-pity purports that I deserve a certain kind of life. (Where does this thinking originate? Why should I be so privileged?)
- Self-pity keeps me focused on myself. (What happens when you are the center of your circumstances and relationships?)
- Self-pity convinces me that I am a victim of my own life. (What about personal responsibility and the freedom to choose your own response?)
If you are a Christian, self-pity also reveals your core attitude about God. “Those who pity themselves because of the circumstances of their lives fail to see God at work in them, while the faithful understand that God always has their best and eternal interests at heart.”
This quote fell hard on me when I first read it a few months back. I had to ask – What does self-pity say to my Creator? We live in a broken world and terrible things happen every day, but do I ultimately trust God is at work in my life, even if I do not see the fruit with my own eyes? We also must realize that self-pity is different than a healthy need to cope with challenging circumstances!
Now we have a better idea of how self-pity works and why it deserves our attention. So how do we combat self-pity?
(Tune into tomorrow for a list of what works and what doesn’t.)
I’m the meantime…what triggers feelings of self-pity for you?
Now read the 2nd, concluding part of Self-Pity.