The Problem of Pity

I think one of the reasons people don’t try to boost their self-esteem is that they enjoy the attention they get from their friends and family. I used to be like that. I would go to a party and sulk in a corner or go outside and mope on the porch. I would wait for someone to come ask me what was wrong so I could unload all my problems on them, while pretending, of course, that I wanted them to just go back and enjoy the party.

I wasn’t sneaking away solely for this purpose, as I really did have problems that were weighing on me heavily, but I knew that a party wasn’t the best place to air this stuff out and that it wasn’t fair to unload it on my friends time after time. If it became too much for me to be at the party with a smiling or at least contented face, I should have made my excuses and simply left.

The truth is that I wanted to be regarded as more important to someone than the party they were at. I wanted them to attend my pity party rather than someone’s birthday party.

Pity is a dangerous thing: it gives the victim just enough good that they keep using pity to get more of that good, but it also dooms them to using pity unless they make a radical change. By making myself pitiful, I was costing myself the positive attention that people would have been willing to give me had I been happy and friendly. Thus, only those close to me would be willing to give me pity and even then, there was a limit because I was ruining parties for them. Thus, sometimes I would just be alone and costing myself all enjoyment. I was also reinforcing my belief that this was my surest route to get attention, even though it was not the kind of attention I wanted.

I had to completely change my attitude toward myself. I had to realize that not only was I not pathetic and worthless as I had thought, which meant I wouldn’t seek pity anymore, but that people’s opinion of me didn’t matter. That freed me from not only seeking their pity, but from seeking their positive attention as well. It’s a great thing to have and be with friends. I love my friends. But I don’t need them to prove that I’m valuable. I love Leah more than myself, but I don’t even need her to tell me I’m valuable. I’m valuable because God says I am and He has the final word.

If you are using pity to get attention, get in touch with who God says you are. Learn that people’s opinions of you don’t matter, that your accomplishments, looks, and possessions don’t define your value, and that nothing you do or don’t do can raise your lower your worth one bit. Once you understand that, you’ll have no more use for pity.

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