People who wallow in self-pity usually go around in a bad mood, feeling sorry for themselves, feeling they’ve been wronged some how. They only care about poor little them. They failed because of someone or something else. They don’t own up to their own faults.
When you catch yourself saying things like these, it’s a sign that self pity is present:
o I try but things just get worse. What’s the point in trying?
o It’s always . . .
o You never . . .
o I was victimized, oppressed, abused . . .
o Nobody knows how badly I’ve suffered
o Nobody appreciates all the things I’m doing.
o I didn’t create the problem so I can’t end it
o People have done me wrong
o Nobody loves me.
o I can’t do anything right.
o Why do bad things always happen to me?
o I’m sick and tired of him . . .
People mired in self pity always look down, while those who don’t, always look up. God wants us to look up:
With regard to the things of the spirit they are as lifeless as a stone; nor do they wish to be otherwise . . . But man’s ambition should soar above this — he should ever look higher than himself, ever upward and onward, until through the Mercy of God he may come to the Kingdom of Heaven. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 71)
Someone mired in self pity can not and will not accept responsibility for their own lives. They look outside themselves for the source of their problems and struggles, always looking for someone to blame. They say: “I didn’t create the problem, therefore I can’t end it.” If something else is the source of your problem, you’re giving your power away to it. For example: for many years I believed that I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by my parent’s abusing me as a child, and that kept me stuck. I gave my power away in several ways:
o I believed that PTSD was more powerful than God. It wasn’t until I developed a relationship with God, and understood the difference between my lower and higher natures, that I was able to realize that their abuse ended at age 17, but the abuse I’d been perpetrating on myself ever since was so much worse, and then I was able to break free.
o I thought that if I focused on service and teaching, it would be a way to overcome the effects of PTSD. It worked for awhile, but because my motives were wrong, the despair always caught up with me. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to do it my way, and truly gave my will over to God, that I was able to live life fully in the present.
o I thought that “if only” my parents would remove the estrangement and start talking to me about what happened as a child, then I’d be able to get free. But then they died, and I didn’t want to remain stuck for the rest of my life because of their choices. I had power over my life. They didn’t.
o I thought that “if only” the money would come from my father’s estate, I’d be able to catch up on my bills. I was waiting for him to rescue me, when it wasn’t in his power to do that. The power is all from God. He knows my needs and how to meet them, if only I’ll ask. So I learned to ask!
I had to learn the hard way that I couldn’t make the source of my life dependent on someone else’s actions, or on the environment. I had to realize that God is the only “Source of power and wisdom.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 295)
Other articles in this series: