Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My dictionary defines self-pity as:

"...a self-indulgent attitude concerning one's own difficulties, hardships..."

For me, the paramount word in that sentence, is "self-indulgent." Now, when I was new to program, the idea that my hours of self-pity were self-indulgent, was met with great resentment and annoyance on my part. I was owed. I didn't have the best of childhoods, so I carried into adulthood, a greivance against the world, and measured everything against my twisted internal logic. Any hint of criticism, no matter how constructive, and I was immediately flooded with rage, my ability to listen was impaired, and I would spend hours, and sometimes days, wallowing in self-pity.

I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy.

I had an attitude of entitlement, and a belief in my own victimhood. By the time I reached maturity, (I use that word only to describe my physical self, because I was very immature emotionally and spiritually) my victimhood had hardened into a resistant habit.

This is why a spiritual awakening was so important for me, it was the only way to break the shell of that habit, and allow some fresh thinking and possibility, into a part of myself that was a solid immovable barrier of old angers and resentments. I hid behind that barrier for many years, and it was quite frightening to contemplate being without it, as it is with any habit we've used for protection of our innermost selves.

Nowadays, self-pity is akin to an overly rich dessert, it may taste like heaven, but the aftereffects are unpleasant - a queasy feeling, and a wish that I hadn't had quite so much of it in one serving.

I prefer the feelings I get when I work my program: serenity, a calm certainty that my Higher Power has things well in hand, and a willingness to admit to my own faults and human frailties. I can laugh at my more childish aspects, and the way my thinking is still sometimes that of a fractious six-year-old. I can "reason things out with someone else," knowing that my sponsor won't allow me to slip a big plate of self-pity onto the table, without raising a quizzical eyebrow.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! For years I have tried to kick self-pity out of my life by "forcing solutions" which only brought more anger and self-pity. By interpreting life's problems and challenges as something done to me I played the role of a victim isolating myself as I felt incapable of making positive contributions to my life. I thought the world was against me so I was mean to myself trying to be "perfect" with imposible to achieve expectations so I wouldn't disappoint anybody. But people-pleasing made me more depressed as I put up with lots of unacceptable behavior from others and myself. It was only through Al-anon that I have been able to appreciate myself and others by being more gentle and patient. I try to focus on myself making sure my responses create healthier outcomes. The only person I can change is myself but this time I try to do it more lovingly. I am powerless over people, places, and things but I am not powerles over me, thank you God. Going to meetings eventually started clearing the fog of self-pity as it can be paralizing giving me a new pair of glasses or a better perspective as It is definitely a
    self-inflected emotion rooted in "victimhood." Thank you for writing this article.