“Pity is one of the noblest emotions available to human beings; self-pity is possibly the most ignoble…It is an incapacity, a crippling emotional disease that severely distorts our perception of reality …a narcotic that leaves its addicts wasted and derelict.” Eugene H. Peterson in Earth and Altar
Young people are generally full of themselves, but a new study suggests that today’s kids are far more self-centered than preceding generations. The results of a recent analysis of current and recent college students show a steady increase in narcissism since 1982. Today’s college crowd can be characterized by a high expectation of others, and a low ambition for themselves. They resent those who expect them to achieve through study and effort, and have little appreciation for the opportunity for an education. They demand entertainment and excitement yet are unaware of the sacrifices made by their parents.
Why the increase in narcissism? And what can parents do to reverse this trend? To begin with we must learn to identify self-pity.
Self pity creeps into one’s thinking easily and subtly. If allowed to linger, this unhealthy emotion takes up residence. Feeling sorry for oneself is both addictive and self perpetuating – and it feels good to our sin nature. Any day can be turned into an opportunity for self pity.
Self pity is an emotional “disease” with crippling effects. How do we keep our kids off the slippery slope of self pity and inoculate our children against it?
First, we need to teach kids the difference between self pity and genuine sadness. We all feel sad at times. Sadness is a healthy response but self pity is not. Self pity is taking your grief and distorting it so that others owe you something for it.
Today, I share with you my attempt at poetry to illustrate the life of a victim. (I apologize in advance to English majors!) We all know individuals who have chosen a victim life style. In my extended family, one adult family member continues to walk away from relationship after relationship in order to keep this sad cycle alive. I was very close to this person once. I knew her cycle well. I weep for her today and wonder how different it would be if self-pity had not invaded her heart.
-A Pity Addict–
I like crisis.
Crisis grants me permission to feel sorry for MYSELF.
And entices you to focus on ME.
So I look for crisis; it’s not hard to find.
I twist your words and misinterpret your intentions to create an issue if I need to.
I play these misinterpretations around and around in my head until I believe them.
I repeat them to anyone who will listen.
I will do anything to feed my need for pity.
I seek your advice to solve my problems but rarely does it work.
Something has to go wrong in order to keep MY cycle of self pity alive.
Where would I be without a crisis?
And how would it feel if I did not have you to blame?
I don’t want to solve my own problems or face the issues in my heart.
I prefer to live in MY indulgent world.
So I create the next crisis.
MY daily life is often a mess.
And I prefer to keep it that way.
And I look for the next time you will let me down.
I keep you walking on “egg shells”.
Eventually a shell breaks and the cycle begins again.
I am good at keeping this cycle going.
I prefer it over a healthy relationship with you.
I entice you because you care.
I know you are apt to join ME in solving MY problems,
where I can work your emotions.
And keep the focus on ME – ME – ME.
I want your pity. It mixes well with my own.
It serves as a drug, numbing my pain and shielding me from reality.
I am a crisis creator because it serves ME.
I deserve your pity,
Because I am entitled to it.
(Part 2- next week’s blog will be filled with tips and suggestions)
SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 3:1-6
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Self-pity is taking the wrong standpoint, and if self-pity is indulged in, before long we will take part in the decaying thing instead of that which grows more and more into the glory of God’s presence. – Oswald Chambers
No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. – Oswald Chambers