Publisher - March 2020
Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.
— Helen Keller –
I went to a birthday party last night and it was a lot of fun. I am also looking forward to the Pink Partini party on April 9 to celebrate Pink Magazine turning 16 years old—very exciting! However, there is one party I never want to go to, and that’s a pity party. I was reminded of this recently when I texted my woes to a friend: I don’t feel good. I’ve sucked with eating healthy the last four days. I hate myself for it. I feel like crying.
Her response: “This is not for me.”
Me: “What? Yes it is.”
Her: “No it’s not. It’s for you.”
Well that pissed me off. I wanted some pity and she wasn’t offering any. I sent her a clear invitation to my pity party, and she flat out turned me down. Are we still friends? Of course! After all, she was right. The text I sent wasn’t for her. She is not affected by how I eat, or whether or not I stay on the course I have plotted for myself. She likes me no matter what. But, I was taken aback. I had to process her curtness and unwillingness to at least consider my pity party invitation. I realize now it was as if I had put a dead, dried up worm on the end of my hook and was mad at her for not biting.
So the text conversation proceeded by me saying: “Just forget it. What does that even mean?” Obviously, still mad because all I was looking for was a few words to make me feel better—basically hoping she would enable me.
As I continued to fume and process this text exchange that was unfolding, I became aware my approach was completely wrong. My friend was actually helping me by not indulging in my pity. Was I looking for someone to say, “It’s okay; you’ll do better tomorrow?” Yes. Should someone tell me it’s okay? No. Because even though while we can’t be 100 percent all the time, justifying, praising and numbing down unwanted behavior disregarding your goals is not the answer.
The text conversation continued, I wrote: “Just needed a word of encouragement.” Now I understand why our conversation went differently than my expectations. It was my approach. Instead, I should have text something like: Hey. I’m derailing. I need some encouragement?” That would have not only completely changed the tone, but also the problem, itself. The “I hate myself blah, blah, blah” took away my power and held me hostage to failure. I am thankful my friend called me out and refused to play in the pity park with me. She forced me to analyze, realize and change my approach, thus empowering me, not the problem.
I learn life lessons everyday, and this is one I am thankful to have learned with the help of a friend. Author Joyce Meyer says, “If someone decides they’re not going to be happy, it’s not your problem. You don’t have to spend your time and energy trying to cheer up someone who has already decided to stay in a bad mood. Believe it or not, you can actually hurt people by playing into their self-pity.”
In sharing with you my pitiful story, I am hoping you will see where you may be allowing self-pity to engulf your power, steal your dreams or burden your relationships. We all do it. But some wallow in it way too long. Best-selling author and psychologist Og Mandino once wrote, “Each day is a special gift from God, and while life may not always be fair, you must never allow the pains, hurdles and handicaps of the moment to poison your attitude and plans for yourself and your future. You can never win when you wear the ugly cloak of self-pity, and the sour sound of whining will certainly frighten away any opportunity for success.”
Getting real with yourself is not easy, and the truth can hurt. In this case, I was stung, but I’m better for it. Pity never serves and has no need in hanging around. Perhaps this is why I love the advice Author Debbie Macomber gives through her fictional character Mrs. Miracle best, “It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are finished!”
Now, on the count of three, let’s all flush. One, two, three!