by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.
Self-pity is no party, my friends! Perhaps we’ve all thrown one of these at least once in our lives. Maybe we know some folks who throw one every day.
It can be easy to justify our sorrow. We feel people have done us wrong, our life is spinning out of our control, our dreams have been shattered, or we see ourselves as the victim of circumstances. So we may believe we have good reason to be down and depressed.
We need to leave this pity party, my friends, because these thought patterns are toxic and never worthwhile. They will destroy our hope for a better tomorrow and stifle us into a martyr complex that will blind us from our purpose and potential. Besides, no one has a good and happy time at a pity party!
I’ve held a few pity parties in my life. My favorite occasion for one is when I’m feeling unappreciated and misunderstood.
During a recent pity party, I came across a definition of self-pity which explained that self-pity doesn’t come from a sense of worthiness but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. And it referred to self-pity as the response of unapplauded pride and a wounded ego.
I hated to think of myself as having a wounded ego. Was my basis for feeling unappreciated and misunderstood really my hurt pride?
Admittedly, I may not be able to change the behavior and thoughts of the people around me, but I can change how I respond to them. Just the acknowledgement of this fact made me feel empowered and encouraged — no longer the helpless victim.
I couldn’t help but remember the story in the Bible about the man healed by the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:2-9) Now truly, if ever someone could have been justified in his feelings of self-pity, this guy would have been one. He had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. And for years, he had waited by this pool to be healed. The rumor was if you were the first to get in the water at a certain time, you would be cured of whatever ailment you were suffering from.
When Jesus came upon this man, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
Instead of a resounding “YES!” the man gave an excuse of why he couldn’t. He said, “I can’t, sir, for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
Of course, Jesus knew this man didn’t have to get into the pool to be healed. He knew God created him upright and healthy, and these qualities were his innate spiritual nature now and always. So Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” And so he did. No more excuses, no more being a victim of circumstances, no more pity party.
When we feel the weight of the world is on our shoulders or we feel put upon or victimized, we can do something about our plight. I saw a sign that read, “Do you rise and shine or rise and whine?”
Whining, even when we feel it’s justified, will not help — will not result in healing, progress or resolution. So quite simply, it’s a waste of our time!
We can learn to stop self-pity when it attempts to creep into our thoughts. It may be normal to at first feel sad or sorry for ourselves when things go wrong. But we can immediately turn our sorrow into positive action. We can surround ourselves with things that bring joy and happiness and experience whatever makes us laugh. We can choose thankfulness as our ticket out of self-misery. If need be, we can make a list of all the good that has ever happened in our lives. We can’t feel sorrowful and grateful at the same time!
And Jesus did give us instruction on how to treat those that mistreat us when he said, “Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person…” (Matthew 5:44)
A wounded ego and unapplauded pride is not the best in me or you. We can leave behind anything and everything that is holding us back or keeping us down. And we can all rise and shine to a new day of joy, peace of mind, and infinite possibilities!