The Antidote To Self-Pity

“Self-pity is a vacuum into which gratitude cannot enter. In fact, self-pity and thanksgiving cannot coexist. They are mutually exclusive. Although thanksgiving is the antidote to this poison, few bound by self-pity will take the foray into expressing thanks for all the blessings they do have.” – William P Farley, “The Poison of Self-Pity”

Thanksgiving is the antidote to self-pity.

Self-pity is a weed that grows in the garden of expectations. I expect an easy life. I won’t have to suffer. Things should always go my way.

Self-pity says things like: I can’t believe this is happening to me. I don’t deserve this. How could a loving God do this to me? You’ve got to be kidding me. Why does this have to happen now?

Self-pity forgets all God’s benefits. It fails to give thanks. Instead it focuses on what it doesn’t have. What it thinks it should have but doesn’t.

That’s why its antidote is giving thanks. So if you’re entrenched in self-pity, or have recently been slipping into it, you can turn it around.

Start thanking God for anything and everything you can. Thank him for saving you and forgiving your sins. For giving you eternal life. For giving you his Holy Spirit. For adopting you into his family. For his steadfast love that never ceases.

Thank him for his mercies. For NOT giving you what you DO deserve – his condemnation and wrath. For being your refuge and strength. For being a sympathetic high priest who knows what you’re going through and cares about you in it. For any respite or relief from your pain, for the gift of sleep, for friends who pray for you and care about you.

Thanksgiving is a fight. Especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s a fight against self-pity. It’s a fight of faith.

Thanksgiving is the antidote to self- pity.

Write that down. Read the above quote again. Get a journal and record all God’s benefits. Thank God for as many things as you can each day – your food, your sight, hearing, taste and touch. For whatever provision God supplies.

Thank God that he is using your suffering to make you like Christ, to produce perseverance, character and hope. And thank Jesus that someday he’ll wipe away every tear from your eyes.

So if you catch yourself asking why is this happening to me, grab yourself, shake yourself and start to offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving. You’ll find joy will begin to trickle back into your soul.

  • itsme

    is there authoratative basis for these things? i submit, the spirit of heaviness, or faintness could this be part of self-pitty. certainly there are other circumstances that cause faintness. the garment of praise is the cure, much like the blog mentions above, along with beholding the wonderous glory of God and His promises. the Word is that which gives power, not necessarily nice oratory and comparative conclusions. these things may sound helpfful, but do little for those wrapped in the garment of self importance. biblical terms bring life, boot straps can seem to help, but will often fall short of lasting change. Isaiah 61.3

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi itsme, thanks for your comments. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by everything you said, but I would agree that being pressed down, afflicted, under pressure, etc. does not necessarily mean that one is falling into self-pity. Paul himself said he was afflicted and perplexed, but he never asked why is this happening to me? And as you said, I believe we should root all of our thanksgiving in God's word – as he says in Psalm 103, forget not all his benefits. The "authoritative basis for all these things" would be God's word, which tells us to give thanks in all things and for all things. Maybe I misunderstood you – if I did, I'm sorry. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      • itsme

        thanks Mark!

  • Cindy

    Thank you for this – the timing – which is God's- is pretty amazing for me, as I circle the drain in the self-pity swirl.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Cindy! I appreciate your metaphor "circle the drain in the self-pity swirl." That is a good way to describe it!

  • Lynn

    Hi Mark,

    For the past 18 months I have dealt with extreme anxiety related to events both past and present. I've been put on meds for the anxiety and am seeing a Christian counselor. Just recently, I was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery and am now dealing with issues in recovery. I will readily admit that right now I'm self-pitiful!

    The past two days have been really tough. I've tried being thankful but what I write down just feels hollow, words on a page. I've tried reading my Bible and while some of it gets through, a lot of what I read are just the same…words on a page. And then there's prayer…sigh. Most times I just sit and cry. I've tried really hard to stay out of the mire of self-pity but lately find myself there more often than not!

    Thanks for the encouragement. I will press on.

    • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com Briana

      I don't know you, Lynn, but I'm going to pray for you right now. God, I pray that the power of your Spirit would overtake Lynn's emotions. I pray that you will give her grace to persevere in the waiting on you for that, and for healing, and renewed strength. I pray that she will, as Isaiah says, rise up on wings like eagles, to run and not grow weary, to walk and not grow faint. I pray that the sowing she's done to the Spirit by reading the Word, praying and writing thanksgiving will reap a harvest of righteousness in her life and bring along a joyful heart that desires to endure the road on which You have her walking right now. I pray that You would open her eyes to YOUR worth and even in her suffering, both physical and emotional, she would declare that you are worthy. I pray that she would not grow weary in doing good but rather entrust herself to her faithful Creator and continue to do good even when the feelings just aren't there. Thank you for Lynn, Lord, and for the way her life, especially in suffering, is declaring your worth and greatness. Encourage her today, Father.

      • Lynn

        Thank you Briana. Your prayer was a real blessing to me and He has encouraged me – through you!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi Lynn,

      I cannot imagine your suffering, both from the extreme anxiety and from cancer, surgery, and recovery. But your great high priest, Jesus, knows exactly what you're going through, and he is deeply sympathetic and cares deeply for you. And the way you are turning to him – even though it is hard and you don't feel much as a result – is in faith, and is so very pleasing to him and honors him. It's easy to praise God and trust him when things are going well, but it really honors God when we trust and thank him in affliction.

      And what a powerful witness to others as well.

      Lynn, I'm sure anyone would be tempted to self-pity when suffering like you are, and I probably wouldn't do nearly as we'll as you. I'm going to pray for you too – what a beautiful prayer Briana wrote. The Lord is your refuge and strength, a VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE.

  • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com Briana

    I "pinned" this onto my "Worth Reading Again" board b/c I know I'll need to be coming back to this again and again. Thank you for writing it!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Thanks Briana, and thank you for that beautiful encouragement to and prayer for Lynn.

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  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Amen Mark! again much needed reminders to be thankful for the grace that has been poured out on us in major abundance! I have the Schleprock syndrome "Wowsy, wowsy, woe, woe" (That's a Pebbles and Bamm Bamm reference from the 70's) I am so focused on me and my problems that I miss the many blessings that are given.Thank you for the much needed encouragement this morning, as always!
    We will be remembering Lynn in prayer too…May she experience the Lord's presence in abundance….
    Blessings
    Ron

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey Ron! "Schleprock syndrome" – good one! That sounds similar to the Eyore syndrome…thanks for your comments – good point -when we're constantly docused on ourselves we can miss so many blessings. Have a great day!

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    Ruby, I'm sure anyone would be influenced to self-pity when struggling like you are, and I probably wouldn't do nearly as we'll as you. I'm going to wish for you too – what a wonderful prayer Briana had written. The Master is your sanctuary and durability, a VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE.
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  • jhon

    I pray that you will give her grace to persevere in the waiting on you for that, and for healing, and renewed strength. I started using eyelid tapes

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