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difficult to say without feeling harsh and judgmental, but here
goes--self-pity is an extreme form of egocentrism, and usually a result of
a very selfish perspective of the world. People who regularly engage
in self-pity are miserable, and they tend to make others quite unhappy,
Of course, we
have to separate self-pity from depression and grief and sadness.
The person who engages in self-pity is looking for sympathy from others,
usually, for in that sympathy they hope to find their happiness, their
pleasant feelings. They're depending on support and encouragement
from others to make them feel better; unfortunately, such a dependence is
very similar to a chemical dependence--the high soon wears off, and they
need another fix. Fortunately, the number of people who constantly
pity themselves is rather low, it seems, though we all know one or two of
them. Their fixation on what's going wrong in their lives is like
sandpaper on our brains--it's annoying and harmful, especially since they
never seem to listen when we point out what's right in their lives, and
just how much the positive out-balances the negative. They don't want to
acknowledge this because then they'd no longer have a reason to feel bad
though, that we don't throw around the term and apply it to just
anyone. We must be sensitive to what the other person's going
through. Someone did that to me once--when I was in college,
through quite a few spells of severe depression. I didn't want to be
there (in the depressed state), and I hated it and tried to get out, but there I was--extremely
depressed. One evening, one of my co-workers quite cheerfully noted
that I was having a "pity party," telling me, in essence, that
what I was going through was my choice, that I wanted to pity
myself. I can't tell you how much that hurt me, and I'll never know
if that particular comment extended that episode of my depression.
On the other
hand, there's one person in my life who's never happy or content with her
life. She has a definite martyr complex--things are always bad, and
getting worse. Interestingly enough, though, whenever I'm over
visiting, all these horrible things that I've been told on the phone just
aren't there. I learned long ago that what she wants is sympathy,
and I try to give as much as I can without helping to perpetuate her
attitude. She also thinks that the sort of things that are
"happening" to her just don't happen to anyone else--nobody else
could have so many problems.
I also know many
people who have things much worse than she ever will, and they don't do a
bit of complaining. They look at what they have in life, and they
appreciate it and do their best with it. It's impossible to convince
her, though, that she's fortunate--she and her husband have a steady
income, they own their own home, they're never without food, they have
plenty of luxuries, they have a nice car, they live in a beautiful
town. But none of that matters, because things are awful at work and
she thinks she'll have to quit soon because she thinks she's working too
many hours (and has been for the last five years). No one keeps in
touch with her and no one remembers her, even though she's in constant
contact with many friends that she's known since childhood. And on
criticize her for this behavior, for I've seen where it comes from.
I do feel bad for her because she makes herself quite unhappy by focusing
on what she sees as bad things in her life. She just doesn't
see the positive at all, and I've never heard her admit to any sort of
happiness. She's unhappy because things happen to her, because
life's unfair to her, but she's never happy about her accomplishments or
the positive things in her life. And that's sad, for she has plenty
of both. She chooses not to see them, though. And what's worse
is that she doesn't get the pity or sympathy she so strongly
desires--everyone caught on to her years ago. So she goes on looking
at the world darkly even though the sun shines brightly.
essentially humorless, devoid of that
lightness of touch which gives
understanding of life.
never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.
teeth of self-pity had gnawed away her essential self.
one of the most unhappy and consuming defects that we know.
It is a
bar to all spiritual progress and can cut off all effective communication
with our fellows because of its inordinate demands for attention and
It is a maudlin form of martyrdom, which we can ill
our worst enemy and
if we yield to it,
we can never do anything wise in this world.
is a death that has no resurrection,
a sinkhole from which no rescuing
drag you because you have chosen to sink.
may argue about whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper.
just want to make sure mine doesn't end with a whine.
you find yourself overpowered, as it were,
by melancholy, the best way is
to go out and do something.
I got the blues thinking about
the future, so I left off and made some marmalade.
It's amazing how
it cheers one up to shred oranges or scrub the floor.
I go about pitying myself, and all the time
I am being carried on
great winds across the sky.
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|Are you giving all
your time and energy to someone who doesn't appreciate it?
Do you sometimes think of yourself as a martyr? Does the word
into your mind more than just once in a while? Many people martyr
relationships and no one notices.
Martyrs seem to give a great deal, but no one thanks them, or
at least not often
enough. The reason is that the martyr's stock-in-trade is guilt--"I've
done so much
for you." Because guilt doesn't feel good, not only do
people forget to say "thank
you," they usually stay away.
The martyr is furious--"I've done so much and I've
received so little in return."
In fact, martyrs don't give to other people, only to themselves.
They just use other
people as the foil.
Try caring and loving, and expecting the same in
return. Don't opt for suffering
in the hope that someday they will recognize how wonderful you are.
Success Is the Quality of Your Journey