(This is the fifth 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.)
Having had conversations with thousands of women over the last few decades, a few areas stick out as the ones in which American women have the most self-pity. The six areas that repeatedly surface are (1) disappointment with husband, (2) issues related to children, (3) dysfunctional family-of-origin (or in-laws), (4) inadequate finances, (5) lack of discretionary time, and (6) personal health issues. In Third World countries, women’s main problems are lack of clean water, lack of safety from violence (this is recently becoming more concerning in America), lack of healthy food to feed her family, and lack of good education available for her children.
We American women have unbelievable expectations: a marriage filled with romance, perfect children, parents and in-laws who are supportive and complimentary (but don’t give too much advice), much extra disposable income, abundant free time, and vibrant, robust health. Right? Isn’t that your standard? As you might know, the distance between your expectations and your actual life is your level of disappointment.
In many of my groups, I ask them to draw a pie diagram. Then, we label the pieces of pie Husband, Children, Home, Healthy Food, Clean Water, Safety from Harm, Available Medical Care, Education, Church, Freedom, Conveniences (plumbing, electricity), Friends, Community, Work and Vocation, Hobbies, Finances, Savings, Personal Health, Family-of-Origin, Relationship with the Lord, and any other category they feel is important. Then, they are to shade each individual piece of the pie diagram according to what per cent they feel they have in that category.
After doing this, most women in my groups look at their heavily shaded pies and say, “Wow. I didn’t realize I was so rich and blessed.” You see, we let the WMDs, What’s Missing and Disappointing, occupy our head space. Instead, we need to harken to the Bible’s repeated exhortation to be grateful for all that we do have. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (Ps.100:4).
One thing I have done for years is to record particular instances that give me high joy. When someone I love expresses affection or demonstrates high attention to me, or when the Lord answers a prayer, I record it. If you start looking for these examples, you will find an abundance of them. My book of remembrances is an amazing pick-me-upper. Reading the sweet things my children and husband have done or said in the past is especially heart-warming to me. Early in my marriage, how I viewed my husband completely changed when I started recording all the benefits he brought to my life. And of course, these grateful “thoughts” produced affection (emotion) for him. Also, reading the list of miracles and answered prayers that God has performed reminds me He is still in the business of doing miracles.
Women with self-pity are rarely grateful. The amount of self-pity in one’s life is inversely proportional to one’s level of gratefulness.
It’s always summer in a grateful heart. And now you know that because of quarantining and Moving into Another Room, you can always choose to lock up your WMDs and instead, think about what you’re grateful for (or other wonderful Rooms to Move into).
We will further discuss the power of a Gratefulness Habit in Lesson 10, the Morning Happiness Routine.
This is the end of the blog series from Lesson 6. I will send you the next series from Lesson 7 in Happy School Advanced soon. However, you can access all the blogs now at JulieNGordon.com under the Happy School Advanced tab.