Wednesday Wisdom: Self-Pity

Self-pity is a Black Hole. Wallowing in it, one becomes more and more imbedded in its vacuum, adhering to the immediacy of its relief.

It is normal to feel good after expressing troubles, when we give a voice to the burdens that complicate our lives. Artists have known this for centuries, allowing their hands and minds to express what the heart wants to say. Musicians, writers, poets, artists, crafts men and women turn their internal worlds outward, transferring anguish into music, pain into poetry, struggle into beauty.

To speak truthfully is to own our power. In shared intimacy, sharing hard stories becomes a way through the pain and anger of trauma. Voiced to confidantes, therapists, and with trusted friends, the hold it has on you weakens, allowing your innate strength to unfold, exposing the beautiful art that is only you.

Without transference through literal or figurative voice, emotional wounds fester and toxify the body. Physical ailments which reveal emotional un-wellness can come in the form of anxiety, fatigue, insomnia. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. We live in a culture of stress and egotistical ideals of accomplishment over meaning, accrual over connection.

Voicing problems is too much when it is not growth-oriented. Self-pity is a form of avoidance. Instead of dealing with the root of the pain and gaining insight of their own character, one feels relief through spilling the toxins of their world onto others. But the relief is temporary. Failing to evaluate one’s participation in painful events only means the problems will arise again and again. The person who employs self-pity cannot see beyond their skin. They exist in their own world of tragedy.

We are not in a true relationship with emotional dumpers. Often, they neglect the emotional needs of others, placing themselves first and foremost on their mission to self-impose. Standing in our power to say no, we are never obligated to meet their needs. Giving voice to our heart, we stand firm in the belief that we are worthy of time and compassion, beyond convenience, beyond the spillage that fails to connect.


To read: A Song for the Beautifully Useful by Barry Maxwell, my writing group companion and advocate for the homeless. His local heart service is Street Lit, providing literature, writing opportunities, and supplies at the Poverello Center, a shelter for the homeless.