How to Handle Self-Pity
Self pity can be handled effectively, and I’ve included the complete technique below. But first, a little background information.
Self pity exists (just barely) as a real emotion. All real emotions have both a positive and a negative side. The (tiny!) positive side of pity lies with its powers of anesthesia. Self pity numbs the pain. It puts you to sleep. It wraps you in a cocoon of mush – and keeps you ‘safe’ from intrusion.
If you could bottle it, it would be considered a ‘mood altering substance’ and thus available only by prescription! In fact, I believe self pity to be the single most addictive thing in the world, partly because no one will admit to having it in the first place.
“Hi, my name is so-and-so and I’m a pity addict.”
Much easier to admit you’re a heroin addict than a pity addict, don’t you think?…
The very powers that make self pity so necessary for childhood and adolescence also make it so repulsive for the grownup. Children NEED self pity. Many kids needed it for their very survival. They were hurting, they looked around, and one of the very few tools available to them was self pity.
It served them well.
As a grownup, however, pity becomes a burden. It’s almost endearing for a child to be sucking its thumb and holding a security blanket. For a grownup, well… you’re not going win a whole lot of respect with your peers!
On the dark side, self pity paralyzes your thoughts and feelings and even your very actions in the world. Just like the other payoffs. Often, it becomes a pathetic manipulation that people use to get any number of things. It becomes a way to punish others,…
“because, hey, I can’t be responsible, I’m in self pity!”
Even worse, pity actually does create a pitiful reality.
See, with fear, many people are terrified of their own shadow. You don’t need a real reason to be afraid – you can be scared over absolutely nothing at all. Likewise with anger. Just drive down the streets and you’ll see it all day long. Drivers going totally berserk over – what? – because you waited a second before speeding off when the light turns green?
It takes very little to provoke a very strong reaction of fear and anger, and in fact many times that’s exactly the case. Not so with self pity.
The person swamped with self pity really is leading a pathetic life, filled with problems and struggle. Life really is difficult when you’re mired in self pity. Bad things really do happen. And one of the characteristics of pity – you always have to blame. Even if it’s blaming yourself.
Self-pitiers usually look outside of themselves for the source of their problems and struggle.
And since -
“I didn’t create the problem so I can’t end it!” -
it becomes a self perpetuating downward spiral that leads only to more problems and more pity.
If someone or something else is the source of my problem, I am giving my power away to that something else. It’s like saying they are more powerful than I am. Then I have to get them to change, so that my life will improve.
By definition, a person in self pity can not and will not accept responsibility for their own life. Someone else must be responsible. (Or some errant part of me.) This in itself leads to a host of problems too numerous to go into here.
Also, pity separates you. It separates you from yourself, from other people, from your world, and from your power.
Pity is an enemy of choice. It’s hard to make choices when you’re filled with pity. And when you do choose, those choices lack any kind of strength.
Very little changes when you’re in pity.
Fortunately, a solution out of this quagmire of pity is readily available. In fact, it’s so simple and easy, many would be tempted to dismiss it out of hand.
I challenge you to muster the courage to admit, well, maybe just a tiny bit of pity may have found its way into my life…
The Technique To Handle Self-Pity
I’ve explored self pity quite extensively, and I really don’t believe it’s possible to just end it in one fell swoop. It takes time and effort. Not a lot of time, and not a lot of effort, but it does take some.
It becomes like a ‘maintenance chore’ – such as using the bathroom and brushing your teeth. If you approach the technique in this way – as one more minor chore to be done on a daily basis, I can assure you the rewards will be immense.
Your life WILL change. No doubt about it. Problems will lessen. You will have to work harder if you want to struggle! Life will become easier, with less effort. Things flow more smoothly, and work themselves out with less hassle on your part.
Solutions and resolutions become more readily apparent. You see things more clearly. You understand and comprehend more of what’s going on in the world around you.
The anesthetic of pity covers up your other emotions. Therefore, by practicing this technique, your thinking ability will improve. Your ability to feel the full range of emotions will also be augmented.
While doing this technique only once – diligently – can lift a huge burden from your shoulders, doing it on a regular basis can produce seemingly miraculous changes.
Here’s what you do:
1. Find a quiet time alone when you won’t be disturbed. You may want to turn down the lights and unplug the phone.
2. Spend a minute or two to relax your body and your mind. Nothing elaborate, just make sure you’re “calm, cool and collected”.
3. Count from five to one, with the intention of entering an altered state at the count of one. Your INTENTION makes it happen, more than the actual counting.
4. At the count of one, imagine yourself in your room, or some other place of your choosing, and in this space you see something that resembles a toilet. Maybe it looks like a bathroom sink. This is your pity receptacle.
5. Begin to feel your self pity as strongly as you possibly can. Focus only on the pity, and all the reasons why you SHOULD be feeling pity. Think of nothing else.
(Maintaining focus on your pity is much harder than you might imagine. It’s difficult to focus on anything for very long.)
It’s very important to concentrate only on the pity. This may actually take some practice. It definitely requires intense mental acuity.
6. After you have filled yourself with pity for as long as you can (say, five to ten minutes) the next step is to flow it all into the sink or toilet or other similar object. Then, either flush the toilet or rinse the sink, or in some other way wash the pity out of sight.
You could sit on the toilet and let it come out between your legs, or you could stand in front of the sink and let it pour out of your heart, your mind, your stomach, your neck, etc. You could even do it both ways, or in some other way that makes sense to you.
The key is to vividly and decisively imagine it leaving your body and flowing into some sort of receptacle. It also needs to leave fairly quickly, at the speed of, say water flowing down a sink, or down the toilet.
7. Count yourself out of the meditation by counting from one to five,and at the count of five open your eyes.
And that’s it! You don’t have to follow the instructions exactly, and in fact I encourage you to ‘dress it up’ or change it slightly to suit your own temperament.
You should be able to notice an immediate difference in the way you feel, after doing this technique only once. You may feel ‘lighter’ – like a burden has been lifted.
Even if don’t believe you have any pity at all, I encourage you to try this at least once. The results may surprise you! And for maximum results, practice the technique on a regular basis, or whenever you feel the urge to go into self pity.
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