Self-Pity – A Deadly Downward Spiral

I have thrown pity parties over the years. They were poorly attended. The conversations were dismal. The gloom was palpable. They dragged on into the night. And I inevitably woke up with a hangover called depression.

Not getting bogged down in self-pity is a golden rule of mental health. Accept the fact that life isn’t perfect. Things happen. Bad things happen. Accidents happen. Living is not for the faint of heart. So when hard things happen, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, figure out what you are invited to do. What is your next step? How can you engage life, work, other people? Don’t look to distract yourself with entertainment. Seek to do something meaningful, worthy, significant.

Above all, look for the presence of God. Wait for meaning and significance to emerge. Usually, that meaning is not found in what happened. It is found in what you do with what happened.

I say this often (it is from Bobby Clinton, leadership author). What you focus on expands. If you focus on the bad things that happen, then their significance and power expand. They dominate. They take over. And you become increasingly helpless. Instead, focus on God. Focus on possibility. Focus on next steps.

Don’t complain about what happened. Ask what you can learn from what happened.

When you are unhappy that is the first degree of unhappiness. Then, when you get unhappy about your unhappiness, you have added another level of sadness. We actually intensify bad feelings when we feel bad about those bad feelings. We get angry at our anger problem. We feel sad about our sadness. We ruminate about our misfortune. We worry about our worries. All that does is compound the original unhappiness, reinforce its power, and extend its duration. What you focus on expands. So don’t focus on what is only going to hurt you.

Maybe Mark Twain will be helpful. Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”

Instead of focusing on our trouble, let’s keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3). Let Jesus expand in your sight, and your struggles will shrink.

Pastor Brian

Brian Rice

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