I claim the title “Queen of Self-Pity.” I’m quite proficient at it and spent years perfecting the art. I spent loads of time indulging my hurt feelings and wasted untold hours rehearsing the sad details of my life. In fact, I used to tell friends that all I wanted to hear from them was “poor Linda.” (Shaking my head here…)
These days, I am fearful when I hear self-pitying thoughts roll around in my mind or words come out of my mouth. Why? Because I know the dangerous path it will lead me down. Self-pity is self comfort, an indulgent turning inward to feel sorry for ourselves. And it’s the deadly beginning to other sins and bad habits. We should avoid it at all costs!
Why is self-pity bad? Here are 5 good reasons:
#1-Because it puts me on the throne of my heart rather than Christ. Jesus told us to love God with all our hearts and minds (Matthew 22:37). When I’m consumed with feeling sorry for myself, I am the supreme object of my attention and love. Jesus is not first in my heart, I am. I am essentially worshipping the idol of me. What I want and how I’m feeling are the most important factors in my mind, not loving Jesus and wanting the things He wants.
#2 -When I’m focused on myself and my sadness or hurt, there is no room for thoughts of others. I am blind to their needs and not thinking of reaching out to anyone else. In fact, I feel paralyzed and incapable of doing so. Christians are supposed to be known for their love. If we are self-pitying and isolating ourselves, we cannot be the light we’re meant to be in the world. We can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to others, if we are so wrapped up in ourselves and our hurt. Self-pity separates us from others and keeps us self-focused.
#3 -My self-pitying thoughts often lead to anger. If I’m upset because I feel unloved or not included, I may think that I have no friends. I tell myself that no one likes me or wants me around. From there, it’s an easy step to feel angry at my so-called friends who are not giving me the attention I desire.
Or my thoughts may wander to the unfairness of life. I may tell myself that I deserve more than I have, or better treatment than I’ve received. I can find myself angry at those I blame for this, or even mad at God. After all, He’s the one who denied me the blessings that I believe I should have. He placed me in my current unfavorable circumstances!
#4 -I can also turn the anger inward, when I consider the many ways I have messed up. Poor me, I never do anything right! I’m such a failure or loser, I may think. My self-pity will lead to hopelessness, cynicism or even despair. If I regularly persist in this kind of thinking, it can lead to unbelief. I won’t trust in God’s promises for me, or believe in His love and forgiveness. I lose sight of what is true, and wallow in lies and unbelief.
#5 -I’m unable to give thanks. When I’m consumed with self-pity, I have a hard time finding anything to be thankful for. I either view myself as a recipient of blessing or a victim of my unhappy circumstances, but never both. You can’t be thankful and self-pitying at the same time, it’s impossible! And Jesus tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, not just when things are going our way (I Thessalonians 5:18).
So as you can tell, nothing good ever comes from self-pity. We should avoid it like the plague!
How? Ask the Lord to help remind you when you feel yourself slipping into this kind of thinking. Pray and ask Jesus to transform your thoughts. Force yourself to list things you’re thankful for, no matter how small or mundane. Actively fight the pity party and take your thoughts captive as described in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Jesus promises to transform us more and more into His likeness as we ask. Let’s claim that promise and fight self-pity!