The habit of feeling sorry for ourselves is what I refer to as an ugly habit.
There is nothing more unattractive to look at or more unpleasant to be around than a person who is prone to self- pity. It is very draining on everyone. I know a woman who
was very sweet and pleasant all of her life, and she loved doing things for other people. But at the age of eighty-seven she
could no longer live alone and had to become a resident in a nursing home. The nursing home was one of the best in the
city, and the staff was superior. She was taken good care of, had good meals, her children paid all the bills and visited her
often, but she let the emotion of self-pity begin to rule in her life.
She grumbled about and found fault with everything. She frequently said that people just didn’t understand how hard it
was to give up all of her stuff and have to rely on other people.
The problem became so severe that people dreaded visiting her, and the staff cringed each time she pressed the button to turn on the red flashing light outside her door,
indicating that she wanted or needed something.
Thinking about the negatives in her life eventually made her angry and depressed, and sadly her doctor had to give her
more and more anxiety and nerve medicine to keep her calm enough for people to handle her. I truly believe that if she had
been positive and thankful, her experience could have been a joy. She was so self-absorbed that she refused to even go out
of her room to visit with any of the other residents or go to the dining room, chapel, or to any function the nursing home
offered. To me, this is a good example of how habitually displaying wrong emotions can literally ruin our life and relationships.
She did have a choice about how she would react to this new season in her life, but she made the wrong choice
and it led to miserable years for her that could have easily been avoided.
One of my greatest problems in the earlier years of my life was self-pity. It was definitely an emotion that I allowed to
control me most of the time. When I didn’t get what I wanted or had difficulties and problems, my first reaction was to feel
sorry for myself. I had endured an abusive childhood and an unfaithful first husband and somehow I fell into the trap of thinking I had a right to feelsorry for myself. I thought that after what I had endured, it was time for me to have life easy and my way, and when that was not the case I sank into self- pity. I remember when God spoke to my heart: “Joyce, you have a reason to feelsorry for yourself, but you have no right
to because I am willing and waiting to bring justice and recompense into your life.” When we allow ourselves to become a victim, it threatens our future. No matter how poor a start we may have had in life, or even how bad things are now,
God will always pay us back and give us double blessing for our former trouble if we are willing to do things His way. His
way is not self-pity and all of the other negative emotions that go with it. I had to break the habit of self-pity, and you will
need to do the same thing if it is a problem for you. Self-pity keeps you stuck with only yourself, and the self you are with
isn’t a happy one.
You become the center of your universe.
God had to show me that self-pity is actually idolatry, because when we are turned inward we are focusing on pleasing
ourselves rather than focusing on God.
Self-pity is a death and has no resurrection, a sinkhole from which no recusing hand can drag you because you have chosen to sink.
We cannot receive help from God or man until we make the decision to break the bad habit of sinking into self-pity
when we face disappointments in life.
As with any bad habit, the way to overcome self-pity is to recognize it and realize that it is hurting you and is not pleasing
to God. Then you must confess it as sin, repent, and ask for forgiveness and God’s help in changing. Learn to recognize the
signs that you are sinking into self-pity and say, “No, I am not going to that dark place again.” Self-pity is a total waste of
time, and it makes us feel lousy. It prevents God from helping us, makes us unpleasant to be with, and steals joy and peace.
If you are starting to sink into self-pity, then think about your blessings. Write them down and rehearse them out loud.
Go visit or call someone who is worse off than you are. Get out and help somebody, but whatever you do, don’t just sink
deeper and deeper into feeling sorry for yourself.
If you have a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear, you are better off than more than half of the world’s population. If we compare ourselves to people who appear to have a better life than we do, we can easily sink into self-pity. However, if we
compare ourselves to those who have less than we do, then we will feel fortunate indeed. Develop the habit of not letting
emotions like self-pity control you.