To Quit Feeling Sorry for Yourself

To Quit Feeling Sorry for Yourself November 8, 2015

You, hey you. I know how you feel. Like a load of crap has just been dumped on your front door and you’ve been handed a shovel. You’ve got to move it. The only thing you can think is, I’ve been a pretty good person my whole life. How did I end up with this shovel, and this load of crap? I didn’t do this, and I didn’t make it, and yet here it is and I’m the one who has to deal with it all.”

Yeah, I know what that feels like. It feels terrible, it feels angry, it feels totally justified: you, the hero in this backwards scenario. You, the wronged victim. You, the innocent. It feels terrible, angry, and satisfying, somehow. Self-pity is like that.

D.H. Lawrence

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.


But self-pity doesn’t help you move that load of crap.

The point to focus on isn’t why the crap is there and why you have to deal with it, but how you’re going to move it. It’s better to get the crap off your door than to spend your time figuring out who to blame for putting it there in the first place.

Self-pity is the most useless of all human emotions. It winds downward, creating a spiral of resentment, blame, and helplessness that lands you in the pool of paralysis. You’re likely to spend the rest of your life there: stuck, immobile, but too busy sorting blame and categorizing injustices to notice.


Gary Paulsen

He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that–it didn’t work.


There are three simple words that can pull you out of the self-pity paralysis.
“It doesn’t matter.”

Say them to yourself when you want to blame instead of shovel: “It doesn’t matter.”

Say them to anyone who wants to sit and whine with you about been-done-wrongs: “It doesn’t matter.”

Daily Readings from the Buddha’s Words of Wisdom

Editor: Ven. Shravasti Dhammika

Arise! Sit up!
Of what use are your dreams?
How can you who are sick
And pierced with the arrow of grief
Continue to sleep?

Arise! Sit up!
Train yourself to win peace.
Let not the king of death,
Knowing you to be lazy,
Trick you into his realm.

Cross over this attachment,
Tied to which both gods and men are trapped.
Do not let this chance slip by,
Because for those who do,
There is only hell.

Dusty is indolence.
Dust comes in its wake.
With knowledge and vigilance,
Draw out the arrow of suffering from yourself.


What is in the past is over, and to think about it, figure it out, spend time in it, you have to stay in the past, too. But your life is now, and forward. Your life is the present and the future, not the past.

Certainly you’ve suffered. Certainly you’ve been dealt difficult things. You’ve walked through pain, undeserved pain, and there are many who don’t get the justice they deserve.

Ultimately, friend, it doesn’t matter. Trust that there is some ultimate justice in the universe, out of your control. Trust that the power of your own life still rests firmly in your hands. Trust that moving forward is the best revenge. Trust that self-pity is the real enemy: fight it ruthlessly, and start shoveling that crap out of your life.

Bible: Psalm 13

New American Standard Version

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,

4 And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.



Photo Credit: Mara ~earth light~ via Compfight cc

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