Anger and Self-Pity: The Shortest Road to Misery

I’ve never been one to feel sorry for myself. When bad things would happen in my life I never asked “why me?” I would, instead, inquire “why not me?” I learned early-on that bad things happen in everyone’s life and I was not exempt so I developed a mindset of quiet self-resignation – I simply accepted life’s misfortunes.

It’s easy to recognize those who wallow in self-pity. They use phrases such as, “Why me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Nothing ever works out for me.” They continually complain about life’s unfairness, always viewing themselves as the victim. They compare themselves to others, struggle with jealousy, and focus largely on the negative. I have a client who buys lottery tickets each week but never a winning one. “If it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all”, he complains. He fails to see that he has a great job and doesn’t need the additional winnings provided by Powerball. Years ago I had a friend who was consumed with bitterness after her husband left her for a younger woman. Upon receiving her final divorce papers, she threw herself a “pity party”, inviting all of her female friends for an evening of whining (with wine) and complaining. I politely declined.
Pathetic Pity People (P3’s, as I refer to them) are narcissistic drama queens who find it hard to recognize the good in their lives or to make light of their personal hardships. They crave attention and sympathy from others. Behaviors, if repeated frequently enough, can become habitual and feeling sorry for oneself is emotional quicksand – it can be psychological suicide.

Is there hope that P3’s can redeem themselves from this affliction? Absolutely! Awareness is the first key.
1. Take notice of the times when you feel sorry for yourself. Replace regretful thoughts with those of gratitude, regardless of how trivial they may seem.
2. Substitute the word “to” with “for”: “Why is this happening to me?” becomes “Why is this happening for me?” To positions me as a victim; for as the recipient of a gift. A simple shift in perception changes the way one views themselves.
3. Engage in physical activity. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals naturally released by the brain that alleviate stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, self-pity, and such.
4. Utilize prayer and meditation as a preventative measure to ward off any negative thoughts. Read the Bible. Recite daily positive affirmations.
5. Ask yourself, “Do I want to be miserable or happy?” Since all feelings are generated by thoughts, choose the appropriate internal dialogue to create the emotions you want to experience.
6. Seek the life lessons in each event. Find their purpose and value and apply them to improving the quality of your life.
7. Discover your purpose in life. Does self-pity support your life’s mission or sabotage it? Know that your reason for being here is vital. Focus your energy in being as successful as possible in your endeavors.
8. Remember that you are a sacred child of God, loved beyond measure, blessed daily by the abundant grace of a loving Father. “Let not your heart be troubled.” ~ John: 14 Ask God to make His presence known to you. It is impossible to feel sorry for yourself when you feel God’s love.

As I got older I discovered the teachings of the Dalai Lama. One of his most profound quotes that impacted my life was, “There are no victims in life; only students.” I realized that I was not a victim of injustices, favoritism, betrayals or my circumstances. On the contrary. Not only did I participate on some level with every circumstance that entered my life but each was here for my higher good. Much later on, I came to a deeper understanding that everything was, in fact, designed to bring me into a deeper more intimate relationship with God. How can one pity themselves when ultimately everything in life is a blessing? From loss, to abuse, to prejudice and even disease – all of life’s events have the potential to assist us on our spiritual expedition if we choose to use them as such. Self-pity is a reinforced concrete wall that obstructs the beauties along our journey. It is the shortest road to misery. So traverse the longer road: with all of its bumps, unexpected twists, and detours is more the scenic route, one filled with exquisite encounters and pleasures, moving you ever closer to your Grand destination.

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