Saturday, January 25, 2014

Antidote to Self-Pity

The other day I was hit with a blast of attack of self-pity. I am usually buoyant and relatively immune to any kind of moping or depression, but this time, some of it temporarily got me. I dumped out all my mournful feelings into my journal. I felt like I wanted to weep, and to run away and hide from people forever, and just sit in my little cave of gloom and mull over sorrowful things. (Why that sounded attractive, I don't know.)

The fact was, the source of my self-pity was a true area of deficiency in my life. I couldn't get out of the cycle of self-pity by undoing or re-defining the deficiency. In my case, this deficiency is an inability to relate to people, but I believe that the pattern is universal: some kind of deficiency or inability is the root of self-pity for anyone, and the antidote would be equally effective for any kind of self-pity.

So there I was, thinking of all my failures and how that made me feel useless and worthless and hopeless. I had the sense that there was something wrong with the way I was thinking, and that I ought not to give in to it, but I couldn't find a way to talk myself out of it, given the fact that the deficiency was there and I couldn't do anything to make it go away. The more I focused on different aspects and outcomes of my failures, the more convinced I was that I was truly worthy to be pitied. This lasted for an entire evening.

The next day, it dawned on me that all of it was the enemy's condemnation, and I had taken the bait. As soon as I saw that, I was like "Oh! Right! Of course! Why would I listen to that? Why would I give a moment's notice to the enemy? Why would I give him an opportunity to rob me of my joy?"

I also went to the Word and re-established my perspective according to God's point of view, and the following series of questions was the result of my meditation on Scripture and my renewed gaze fixed upon Jesus. This list of questions was hastily jotted down in my Kindle during my lunch break at work.

  • Who are you hearing this condemnation from? 
  • Should you be listening to him?
  • As a child of the King in your position in Christ, are you subject to self-pity for this topic? 
  • Put another way, does the enemy have any ability or right to destroy your happiness?
  • Am I choosing to rejoice and thank God for this good gift He has given me, or wallow in focusing on what I think I don't have? 
  • Can any of my deficiencies hinder God's power from working in my life?
  • Can any of my deficiencies present a valid obstacle to obedience?
  • Am I turning more to my natural ability or to the power of God's spirit in this area? 
  • If I turn to my natural ability, will I ever find the solution? Will I even improve? 
  • If I turn to the Spirit's indwelling power and trust the resurrection life of Christ to be actively at work in me in this area, what could happen?

The power of this perspective shift was immense. I realized, "I have God!" and all my self-pity vanished. I instantly experienced such a high, I felt like I was soaring on clouds. I felt like my heart was about to explode with love for God. I returned to work with a smile on my face, a light in my eye, and a spring in my step.

Therefore, the key to solving self-pity is not to re-define the deficiency, claim it doesn't exist, or pretend that it's okay and it doesn't matter. All of those things are powerless, because deep down, you will know that the deficiency is still there. As long as the deficiency exists, it has the potential to create fodder for self-pity. It has the potential to continuously breed reasons to make you sad. It has the potential to sound in your ears as the enemy cleverly weaves it in, using a tidbit of truth in the midst of his lies. In my case, it's true that I have some kind of dysfunction in relating to people. What is not true is that that makes me worthless, useless, or a failure. The enemy gets me to swallow those lies when I focus on the part that I agree with, which is that I don't know how to relate to people.

The antidote to self-pity is to fix your eyes on Jesus, apply the gospel to your individual deficiency, and trust God to be bigger and stronger and more than able to compensate for your deficiency.

If you have God, how could there possibly still be any room for you to be pitied?


  1. Hey, very recently I stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for a way to trick Gmail into adding a signature at the end of a mail. The tips you shared way back in 2012 were extremely helpful and I am using them, thank you!
    I decided to take a look at your blog after that and I really like what you post here. I like the way you think through things and deal with them.
    In relation to this particular post I'd like to add that, like you, I rarely allow myself to wallow in self-pity, but yet it does happen time and again. A few weeks ago when I somehow convinced myself that I hadn't "achieved" much in life thus far, a verse came to me - 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV "If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."
    That struck me hard! I realized that I don't have to "achieve" anything just as long as I have God who IS Love! I immediately bounced back to reality, shook myself up wondering why I had even been wasting time being ungrateful, began to focus on God's love and began to sing praises unto the Lord. :)

  2. Hello E!
    Welcome to my blog. I'm glad you have enjoyed my posts. I love the aspect that you bring out here, that love is the key, and we have the God who IS love. What a privilege to know and be known of Him.

    Hope you have a wonderful day, and thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for this post. I needed it today :)

    1. Hi Bonnie. Glad to hear it was a blessing to you. May the Lord be glorified as He allows this message to bear fruit. Hope you are doing well!

  4. Thanks for sharing this! What a coincidence that last night, I was experiencing the exact same sense of condemnation from difficulty in relating to people. The moment I fixed my eyes on Jesus, this insecurity vanished and was replaced with a desire to showcase His love to anyone I come in contact with :)

    1. So good to hear from you, Jenna! Wow, so I'm not alone in having trouble relating to people? It's so cool that you experienced the same results from fixing your eyes on Jesus and finding His love to demonstrate to people. In a case like this, where I am weak, then I am strong, and when Christ makes me strong in an area where I was so evidently incompetent, then it advances His glory all the more, because it could have been nothing other than his grace that did the work.

  5. I just told my friend that this self-pitty thing is slowly crawling into my system. I just feel so bad and trampled upon that I had to google 'self-pitty verses' just get things over with. And then I came across your blog...thank you..

    I still FEEL bad but having some truth to munch will surely sate my hungry heart. God bless you


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