First post in about 9 months…. must be something really on my mind, no?
Self-pity… wow… what a sneaky, powerful enemy. One of the worst habits, and inhibitors of life, happiness, and success I have ever come across.
In my experience, most self-pity is rooted in genuine pain. Pain does not have to lead to self-pity, it simply often does.
We hurt about something… someone wronged us, an expectation was missed, we lost someone or something, we became ill or injured… the list is endless. And naturally, we felt legitimate pain. Who wouldn’t?
Then somehow, a weak part of our thinking seeks to add some drama to this pain. It perhaps says,
“Hey, if you really emphasize this pain, to yourself and others, it will be all the more validated. And the person or circumstance that hurt you will be all the more wrong. It will highlight the injustice and in that there will be some satisfaction for you. There will be a payoff of some kind”.
But the insidious part of all of this is we don’t even know we are doing it. We don’t know that we are adding drama to our pain, and thereby making our legitimately bad circumstance even worse. Why? Could it be because we are basking in whatever payoff we are feeling in the drama we are creating or going along with?
And the worst part is we don’t see how we are adding to our pain as well as entrenching it deeper and deeper into our thinking and feeling. The payoff is a ruse, a decoy, a bait-and-switch process that entices us to reach for more, yet we are really just being ripped off all the more.
What can we do instead? What I’ve tried to do, and rest assured I mastered the art of self-pity to the point that I went out of my way to drink, drug, and depress my life away, so what I have tried to do when I discovered my road to recovery, is to simply stop at saying, “this hurts”.
Anything more than an expression of the pain I feel is usually a step in the direction of self-pity. And do you notice that in most cases, verbal exaggeration points in the direction of self-pity?
So I do my best to find a way to simply say, “Ouch”, and then immediately begin to find help to deal with the reality of my pain, and not take it to a new and false level. Because the new level will intensify, prolong, and completely misrepresent the pain. It will cause me to blame. And blame is usually the act of mis-assigning responsibility.
And even if my pain is someone else’s fault, focusing on their fault will not help me get through it as much as focusing on what I can do in each moment to address the reality of my current pain. And most often, I do this with help. Help of someone I trust. Either a friend, sponsor, minister, or family. Carefully chosen people who will not co-sign self-pity in helping me through the pain.