(This is the first blog in a series of five, entitled “Rooms to Stay Out Of: Self-Pity, Failure, and Regret.” It is taken from Lesson 6 in Happy School Advanced, a study of the book, Happy School.)
One afternoon fifteen years ago, I was getting acupuncture. I was explaining to my acupuncturist why I was emotionally down. I listed several items. “Joo-lee,” he said in his Chinese accent, “you have self-pit-tee.” Sometimes, sentences cut a slit in my skull and let truth in. This was one of those moments. Why, I had self-pity! I definitely recognized self-pity in others but I didn’t see it in myself.
Self-pity is what the Israelites had when they wandered in the wilderness. God had just miraculously delivered them from being slaves in Egypt (can you imagine seeing the Red Sea part?!), and now they’re fussing and murmuring about everything.
How does one know if she has self-pity? Here’s a good test: if you whine and grumble to yourself (listen to your Parade) about how hard you have it and how you don’t like it, then it is highly probable that you have self-pity. You must learn to recognize and hear the beast of self-pity when it Marches Across your Brain. So many women have it and don’t know it. Whenever you hear yourself complain and murmur about how difficult or unwanted your circumstances are, then beware, you might need to confront yourself about your self-pity.
In one of my groups, one of the young women—who was a true servant and a godly woman—was filled with self-pity. She had indeed experienced some hard things, but I don’t do anyone a service if I let them hold on to their self-pity. It tarnishes the soul and hurts our relationships with others, as others don’t find it attractive. (They may listen to you, tolerate your rantings, and even agree and offer sympathy, but I promise, it will eventually push even your most loyal friends away. See Day 4’s article for more on this.)
“I didn’t get what I needed as a child,” my student repeatedly mentioned to the group, blaming her current emotional anguish on her family-of-origin. Gently, I had to remind this young woman that yes, maybe her childhood was the source, but she’s an adult now, and she can learn to think correctly. She no longer has to have Mommy and Daddy’s approval. Mature adults don’t blame others, and don’t have self-pity. Rather, they take massive, prayerful, action on their goals and otherwise, quarantine their WMDs (What’s Missing and Disappointing).
The secret to knowing whether or not you have self-pity, as I’ve said, is to listen to your self-talk to see if you hear a lot of discontent and complaining. Having self-pity means you feel sorry for yourself in an area because you don’t have enough of something you desire. The goal in this series of blogs is to make major strides in recognizing our self-pity, then in accepting our current lot while prayerfully and powerfully working to change things. It does not help to kick the wall. Accept what is, then get to work in your prayer life as well as on your goals.
Another name for self-pity is a victim mentality. A victim mentality says, “It’s not my fault. So-and-so is to blame.” Any kind of blame is a loud indication of self-pity. Self-pity is one of the greatest weaknesses of the human spirit and is an acid to the human soul. When you hear the Parade of self-pity Marching across your Brain, grab it, and put it solitary confinement. There is zero, and I mean zero, benefits to self-pity. Prayer, prayerful problem-solving, and taking massive action are king.
The next blog is #2 out of 5, entitled People with the Exact Same Objective Situations Think Differently About Them. You can access all the blogs now at JulieNGordon.com under the Happy School Advanced tab. Scroll down to Lesson 6.
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