I must confess, my biggest temptation isn’t watching porn, cheating on my taxes, or skimming money from our church’s ministry funds.
My biggest temptation is self-pity.
When things in life and ministry aren’t going the way I want, or the way I think they should, that’s when I start whining. I start having a good “oh, woe is me” pity party. I start feeling real sorry for myself. I want to just check out of life and go hide in a cave somewhere.
But over the years, here are three practical things I’ve learned to do to combat the slide into the black hole of self-pity.
- Practice Gratitude:
I know this isn’t a new idea, but I’ve found so much power in the practice of gratitude. Anytime I’m starting to feel sorry for myself, I start making a list—either in my head or on a sheet of paper— of all the things I’m grateful for. Once I start doing this I’m reminded of just how much I do have. All the thoughts about what I don’t have or wish I had are replaced with all of what I do have, and the feelings of self-pity quickly fly away.
- Serve Others:
At the root of self-pity is self-centeredness. When my world becomes all about me—what I want but don’t have, what I think should be going my way but isn’t, what I think should be working out for me but isn’t—that’s when self-pity starts hanging around my front door.
So when I start feeling self-pity, I look for ways to serve others. Whether that’s calling someone on the phone to say hello and ask how they are doing, or offering a helping hand to a friend or neighbor, or sending an e-mail to encourage someone, or helping my wife do the dishes or clean the house, or whatever it may be—when I take the focus off myself and put it on serving someone else, it closes the door to self-pity.
- Take Action:
Victimization is a very close cousin to self-pity. When we are having self-pity and we start adding to that thoughts like, “I can’t do anything about what’s happening in my life,” or “My life’s not going in the direction I want it to go, and I don’t know what to do about it,” that’s self-pity leading us into a mentality of victimization.
But what I’ve learned is, when self-pity starts a conversation with me and wants to keep the conversation going, when I begin putting a specific plan in place to do something about the thing or situation that caused me to feel sorry for myself in the first place, well—then self-pity can’t stay around. When self-pity is sitting on your shoulder whispering in your ear, get up and do something. Put a plan in place, act on that plan, and self-pity will leave, guarantee!
Self-pity is my single biggest temptation in life.
I’d love to hear your response. Please leave a comment below.
Building and Living A Life That Counts,
Ken L Roberts
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