“What we must recognize now is that we exult in some of our defects. We really love them” (12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p.66).
Somebody or somethin’ done ya wrong? Let’s stew on it. After all, you’ve tried so hard for so long, earnestly doing what’s reasonable and right. You had faith things would work out. But then what did they do – this person or group or life in general? Did they recognize the facts? Did they acknowledge what was really going on, see their obligations, and grant you your just reward?
No! No, they did this other thing, this wrong thing, this business that is so, so hurtful! You had hopes and they dashed them! You were innocent and they shot you down. And hasn’t it always been like this? Fuckers. They’re just plain cruel – that’s the truth! It’s all so unfair! Why do you even keep trying? Why get hurt like this again and again? Sometimes it feels like even god – that’s right, your gonna just go ahead and say it – plays favorites, walls you out, prefers a frickin’ clique! So you’re utterly alone. You have nothing. Only this lonely ache and this rusty iron conviction you’ve been wronged…
Man, I just LOVE me a warm bath of self-pity!!! Sing it, bring it, tell it!
Except – wait a minute. That stuff’s poison. It’s toxic thinking guaranteed to sicken and imprison a person in resentment quicker than they can say “running the show.” Whenever I sense self-pity pooling in my thoughts, I have to draw myself up short and try my best to redirect my focus. Otherwise, I’m taking steps backwards in my recovery. For all of us prone to addiction, self-pity is a dangerous spiritual ailment, and indulging in it without check is the emotional equivalent of guzzling drinks.
- Self-pity ain’t nothin’ but ego: We know the storyline of how things were supposed to go because we wrote the script. It was a really good script, too! We had “the lights, the ballet, the scenery, and the rest of the players” all set in the best way – that is, the way that would turn out ideally for us. We deserve what we want! Really, everybody would be better off doing things our way, if only we could make them see it! —————————————- ——————— ————— —————-
- Self pity lies like a rug: I know what’s best. I know what everyone’s thinking and exactly why they did what they did – all their petty, biased little motives! That’s why I’m sure this turn of events is wrong. What actually happened is NOT god’s way: it’s a big mistake! Or if it is god’s way, then god’s an asshole. God should put foremost what makes me happy. The universe is either with me or against me, based on what I see and think! ———————— ——— ——————————————- ————-
- Self-pity is drama crack: I’m not only the heroine of this tale but also the audience. Look at this poignant twist of plot! I’ve persevered through so many difficulties, only to be wounded by this undeserved blow! Oh, the pain! The audience (me) can see the other characters all plotting around the player spotlighted in center-stage (also me). I can play the drama forward; I can draw out the future with swelling musical notes. Someday, damn it, they’ll realize X and be filled with Y. This show is so intense! So deep! ————————————– ——————- ————- ———
- Self-pity is addicting: The more we hang out in self-pity, the more trammeled those neural networks become and the more likely we’ll go back for more. Dwelling on injustice brings the intensity of something exciting, something dire! That delicious ache of martyrdom fills the gaping hole in our spirits. Yes, it’s a low, but it’s also a high – an all-consuming escape from real life. By contrast, a level-headed look at our situation going forward seems either boring (acceptance) or intimidating (action). Can’t I just sit here and savor another hit of “poor me”?! ————————————– ———————————— ————————————————
- Self-pity ain’t self-compassion: Compassion is positive. When we feel it for others, we open our hearts to them; we empathize lovingly. The same goes for self-compassion. It prevents us from judging ourselves negatively, acknowledging instead the efforts we’ve put in and the disappointment we feel. But it does not stew, blame, resent, envy, or hate. In self-compassion, we love ourselves as god loves us. We nurture our own healing, not our pain. ———————————————————————————–
- Self-pity ain’t self-care: Self-care is, by definition, pro-active. It considers my constructive options for healing and strengthening. I ask god what I can do now to better my emotional state so I’ll develop the means to help myself – and then I do it. Self-pity, by contrast, attributes all the power to others. I’m a victim! I have no responsibility! Nothing I could have done, nothing I can do now can help me. —————————– ——————————————————– ——- ——–
- Self-pity turns our backs on god: God dwells only in reality. It can be met only in the present moment. It’s also the power of love – a love that motivates us to accept what life brings and see how we can grow, make, and be useful under those circumstances. When we collapse instead into self, when we rail against reality, we encase ourselves in righteous resentment. Fear and scarcity wall out the very faith we need in order to recoup. ————————————————————————————–
- Self-pity makes us useless: Your problems? Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve got my problems! What do you have for me? ———————————————————————————–
- Self-pity attracts misfortune: This is karmic law. I don’t know exactly how it works, just that it does. Self-pity renders us a black hole of need. We’re not generating; we’re sucking, sinking, retreating into darker and darker recesses of self. The forces that gain energy in that darkness – forces we feed with our anguish – do not bring goodness into our lives. —————- ————– —————————— ——————- ————
- Self-pity is frickin’ boring: For god’s sake, don’t we know this song and dance too well? How many times have we been here? It never changes. It interests no one. There are so many better ways to spend our time and energy.
Every time I’m able to recognize that self-pity is having its way with me, I pray something like this: God, help me stop right now. Steer my thoughts toward the path of healing and usefulness. Change me, dear god, in whatever way will free me from this dumbass horseshit.
It truly helps. Try it and see!