Exposing Self-Pity: The Counterfeit Coping Mechanism

The Prison of Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Self-Pity

In order to overcome, there is no question you will have to face trials by growing in patience, hope and resilience. Let me be honest with you. In the decades I have spent helping people I can say with confidence that life is not easy. You will need to build a tenacity in life that you did have not have before. You’ll be stretched father than you think you can go.

The reality is that there is so much more in you than you think you are capable of. You just may not know it.

You Have More in You

I watched an interview with a author who invited a navy SEAL to live with him and his family. He trained the man in a variety of physical exercises, all in which he pushed him beyond his typical limits. Very quickly, he was able to lead him to places he never thought he could go.

The takeaway from the Navy SEAL experience was that when you think you are at your limits, you actually have about 40% still left in the tank. Many times when we think we cannot go any further is the place where we have only just begun to stretch.

When we say, “I can’t take it anymore,” that is actually not true.

Everyone gets pushed beyond what they think they can handle. We’ve all said, I can’t take it anymore. Yet it is in these moments is where you can choose to rise up and overcome. Otherwise you may fall into mindsets that will keep us imprisoned. One of the deadliest ones is self-pity.

Help, I’m a Self-Pity Addict

No one likes to admit they have self-pity or are feeling sorry for themselves. Yet it can become the default setting if you don’t develop tools to bounce back and live victoriously. In learning to overcome, you will need a resilience to recover from setbacks and build spiritual muscles during trials.

Yet in order to do that, you will also need to confront patterns of self-pity that becomes coping mechanism for many people.

Even as my children are very young, I can see self-pity looking for inroads into their thinking. Melissa and I are working very hard to help them identify this mindset and how to break free from it early on. Otherwise it can follow us our whole life.

Growing up as a child, anxiousness and depression was very familiar to me. Self-pity was my go-to emotion to engage often. I was pulled into the vortex of its ways because it felt good at first. I didn’t gain the attention I wanted, so feeling sorry for myself was the next best option. Yet what became a friend to me actually led me into an emotional prison.

Exposing Self-Pity

Self-pity is a counterfeit coping mechanism that the enemy offers to the wounded and broken to deal with pain. What can begin as genuine grieving and confession can become a lifestyle of negativity and hopelessness. Under the work of self-pity, you become chained to hopelessness. You will become persuaded that you have no hope of improving or getting free.

Self-pity is the process of turning an emotion, that is meant to bring emotional intimacy with others, inward; thereby blocking our ability to emotionally connect with God and others. Self-pity is driven by a desire for emotional intimacy. ~ Cindy Nichols

A person under self-pity does not completely quit in life. He or she just quits trying to move forward or attempt to make any dynamic change.

It teaches you to believe that “no one cares for you.” Therefore, you need to have pity for yourself. The hope is that if they pity themselves, then people will notice and get the message that they need to care for them. But it is a trap! This misdirected focus never satisfies.

It can be very revealing to realize how much self-pity infects our thinking. The truth is everyone dives into it occasionally. The problem is that many get stuck in it.  You can live with self-pity on a daily basis and not even realize it.

The Quicksand of Death

Self-pity has nothing to do with loving yourself. In fact, self-pity can be a practice of welcoming death over yourself.

I like to call self-pity the “quicksand of death” because of how one can end up sinking deep into it so quickly. Once you get sucked into its downward spiral, getting free can be challenging. Anyone who tries to come and rescue a person in self-pity can inevitably get pulled into the mud themselves.

The problem is that self-pity is a toxic drug that is addictive. It mainly keeps you focused on your past pain without any resolution. It will isolate you to the point where you eventually enjoy soaking in hopelessness. (This takes real honesty!)

A False Way to Connect

Self-pity can be an attempt to connect with others emotionally and relationally by drawing on their feelings of compassion with continual attention on your pain. People with self-pity can appear to genuinely need help, but can often be very manipulative and attention-getting with their pain.

As Cindy Nichols says,

Self-pity creates a vicious cycle. We desire to connect with others so we tell our sad story in an effort to connect emotionally. We may gain the sympathy of others, but since our focus is on self, it prevents us from connecting emotionally with others; thus blocking the intimacy we were seeking. So we tell our story again in an effort to connect emotionally… and the desire for intimacy becomes like an addiction that is never satisfied and the cycle continues. It’s hard to connect with someone whose focus is inward.

Self-Pity traps us into discouragement, directing our thoughts and conversations to be all about me and my problems. A deep “me-centered” way of thinking ensues.

Blocking a Good Future

People with self-pity will not allow true love and a good future to get into their perspective. The focus is solely on how things have been, preventing them from breaking through their issues. It excuses their lack of action or personal responsibility, where life is always the fault of something or someone else.

Self-pity justifies why a person is not progressing and makes them feel validated that they have not moved forward. Self-pity refuses to see the potential of a good change or promising future. They can actually refuse to believe that change is possible.

True love believes. Self-pity will block you from building the faith you need to rise up to the next level. But only you can recognize its work in your life. No one can really call it out in you, cause it won’t produce much fruit. Only you can look in the mirror and say “Enough is enough. I’m gonna walk free today.”

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Mark DeJesus has been equipping people in a full time capacity since 1995, serving in various roles, including, teaching people of all ages, communicating through music, authoring books, leading and mentoring. Mark's deepest love is his family; his wife Melissa, son Maximus and daughter Abigail. Mark is a teacher, author and mentor who uses many communication mediums, including the written word, a weekly radio podcast show and videos. His deepest call involves equipping people to live as overcomers. Through understanding inside out transformation, Mark's message involves getting to the root of issues that contribute to the breakdown of our relationships, our health and our day to day peace. He is passionately reaching his world with a transforming message of love, healing and freedom. Out of their own personal renewal, Mark and Melissa founded Turning Hearts Ministries, a ministry dedicated to inside out transformation. Mark also founded Transformed You, a communication platform for Mark’s teachings, writing and broadcasts that are designed to encourage people in their journey of transformation. Mark and Melissa currently live in Connecticut.

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