“Self-pity lies to you about who you are and steals from who you can be”-Unknown
What is self-pity?
Self-pity is an excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over one’s own troubles.
It’s normal to feel sorry for yourself when things don’t go well with you. What’s not normal is when you do so constantly and never get out of that state. You simply curl up feeling sorry for yourself and hoping people feel the same way about you too.
There was a time in my life that I had so much self-pity. I felt like I was the only one that had it bad, nobody’s case was worse than mine. I also felt like people didn’t understand what it was that I was going through and I felt like my pain was some kind of trophy that was worthy of praise (oh poor thing, see how far she survived) and sympathy for people. ‘Oh look at her, she’s like this because this happened to her, let’s help her or include her in whatever we do and just show her we are here for her, that we understand and we love her’.
Growing up, I felt mostly misunderstood. I would say something and people would pick offense and it made me wonder what I said wrong. People told me I was very blunt and inconsiderate when I spoke. That coupled with my ‘uninviting angry/bored face’ did not even help, even as a child.
This made me so withdrawn and conscious of what I said to people and their body language towards me. I’m a quiet person, especially in a new environment. However, I think a part of that quietness is as a result of not wanting to sound insensitive (Jeez, I’ve been told that severally) and misunderstood. The funny thing was I didn’t know I made people feel that way, I didn’t know I sounded hurtful or ‘blunt’.
Sometimes I look back at some of the things I’ve said or done to people and I see the offense in what I did but back then, I honestly had no idea. All that coupled with life and all the ups and down that comes with it kept me in a constant state of self-pity. I never really put myself out there, I always felt like an outcast. I was never enough and I just couldn’t escape myself; more like self-loathed.
Thank God for delivering me. He constantly shed light in several areas of my life and self-pity was one of them. Not only did He show me these things, He helped me deal (still dealing) with them. It’s a gradual process and God has been with me all the way through, hence learning and unlearning.
One thing with self-pity is that sometimes you never know you are so much into it until you just realize or someone points it out to you.
What it does to a person?
“Feeling yourself and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have”-Dale Carnegie
Self-pity cripples you. Feeling overly sorry for yourself can keep you just where you are without any progress. It could even take you backwards. When you begin to constantly feel sorry for yourself, you become comfortable and complacent where you are, after all, it’s not your fault that so, so and so happened to you. I mean the world should understand and give you a break right? You keep making excuses and justifying certain things when you can get out of that state and do something, be better, and make better use of your life, resources and what you have.
Take me for instance, I just never put myself out there because of how I felt people might perceive me to be and that really kept me from doing a lot of things. It held me back.
I know some (if not all) of us have gone through really hard times and circumstances and they are very valid. However, what’s the use of dwelling in them or hiding behind them when you can be more positive about life and tell yourself you won’t let your circumstance keep you down. I know it’s not easy and might not be as simple as I have stated but it can be done. You owe it to yourself and the people you are destined to impact to be so much better, at least much more than what you have been through.
Secondly, when there’s self-pity, everything seems to be and revolve around you. For you to be constantly sorry for yourself, it means you are thinking mostly about yourself. Now I know it’s quite natural for man to think about themselves, however, if you dwell in self-pity, you simply think so much about yourself.
‘Why did that happen to her and not me?’ ‘Why is mine different?’ ‘Could they be talking about me, is it because of how big my arms are?’ ‘How do I appear?’ ‘If only I was born into a wealthy family, I too will own so, so and so’ ‘I can’t get it even though I try because of my so, so and so’. Please snap out of it. It’s not healthy. This world doesn’t revolve around you, people don’t think of you as much as you think. Everything is not about you, people have lives to live and also have things that bother them too.
What this attitude does is that it makes you seek attention either in an obvious or subtle way (I am a strong witness guys). It also makes you selfish because when someone thinks about themselves too much; when they think everything is about them, they become selfish. This is because they probably don’t think about others.
Related: Where the shoe pinches
Self-pity can also make you miss out on good times. I’ll give you an example. Growing up, I was a fat/chubby child (I’ve always been on the big side). I had several experiences where people would laugh at me and call me names for running or doing anything athletic. They’d say I better try javelin or shot-put (right now I’m smiling but then it just wasn’t funny) because of how big I was. Of course, this made me feel somehow about my body and it made me feel insecure and not really open to people.
Because of all these, I decided I would not do anything sport-related. So when my classmates would ask me to play volleyball or football or even games that required running or jumping, I’d tell them no, I’m not interested. So I’d watch my friends have fun playing and I’d be in my corner wishing I could join them. I carried that with me for so long even into university. I had so much convinced myself that I didn’t like sports and somehow I rolled with it.
One day, I realized that I like running, jumping, playing games and so on and in fact, I didn’t hate sports, I just did all that to avoid people calling me names and laughing at me. Did I miss out on good memories? Yes, I did. Do I regret them? Of course but life continues.
What I told myself (although it isn’t easy) is that I will not miss out on anything because of my insecurities; I will not miss out on anything because I feel too sorry or have so much pity for myself. That just sucks the life out of everything I’m supposed to enjoy and that’s deadly. How is that working for me so far? Well, every time is definitely better than the last, still learning and unlearning.
“Self-pity: a self-absorbed, feeling sorry for oneself fueled by a high view of self, a low view of God and an attitude of entitlement”-Eric Davis
Self-pity has a way of making one entitled. You feel because something happened to you, you have a right to certain things. You feel people should be able to understand and should always help you. That’s not life and basically nobody owes you anything in this life. Whatever you get from anyone is something to be grateful for and should not be seen as something you deserve because of the condition you are in. Be it great friends that understand or people that you can lean on, be grateful.
Self-pity also makes you believe a lie. ‘Oh, I’m not good enough’, ‘I can’t move forward’, ‘how can I overcome with this challenge by my side? It’s just not possible’. All these are lies. As a Christian, all that you have to believe is what God says about you. God loves you, you are His own, you have a Father that is so powerful and will always be with you, and God has a plan and purpose for you.
“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of all non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality”John Gardner
Self-pity can also make you avoid responsibility and always push the blame on others; it makes you play the victim always. It also keeps you in the past and prevents you from seeing a bright future. It certainly brings you down.
Finally, it steals your joy. It does this subtly and you wouldn’t know except you look back and compare. Wallowing in all your mistakes, misfortunes and so on makes you dwell on them so much that it fills you with so much anxiety and insecurity. You begin to have a distorted sense of who you are and it just makes you unhappy, bitter and sometimes hopeless; you simply lose your joy and even your identity.
If all I mentioned sounds like you, then you have to do something about it and you can start by deciding (I mean purpose in your heart) not to dwell in self-pity. Also, It’s important you ask God to help you deal with this because the Holy Spirit is truly a helper and can shed more light into the dark areas of our hearts. If you can, see a therapist or simply talk to a friend that is wise and understanding. They can help you as you heal and deal with the cause of your self-pity. Remember, self-pity is a no.
“Self-pity is the devil and if I wallow in it, I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world”-Oswald Chambers
I had mixed feelings writing this because I knew I had to be a little vulnerable to complete it but I’m glad I did. I hope it blesses someone and thank you for reading.