Self Pity: A Nasty Drug

Daisy is the name of a dog at the local animal shelter. Daisy had been neglected and left outside, tied to a tree. The rope she was tied to got wrapped around her right front leg, causing a loss of circulation. We saw Daisy on her first day at the shelter and she was very excited when we took her for a walk. She was in pain, but she limped around, chasing a ball. Daisy was very happy, despite her past circumstances. We visited Daisy a few more times that week, and each time she was very happy and met us with a nasty tennis ball. She would chase it and bring it back, even though her leg seemed to be getting worse. She just kept chasing that ball.

One evening we got a call from the shelter telling us that Daisy had to have her leg amputated, and they asked if we could come by in a few days to see her since she has really bonded with us. I explained to my son that Daisy would probably not be in the mood to play catch and the pain would be severe. We went the Saturday after her surgery and got out of the car bracing for the worst. When we walked down the row of cages we could hear her distinct bark. We got to her cage and there was Daisy, with her tennis ball, ready to go! We opened the door and she licked my son’s face, and then laid the ball at his feet. She chased the ball just as hard as she did before her leg was amputated. She fell a few times, but didn’t even seem to notice. Daisy, who has had horrible abuse, neglect and pain, was simply happy to have us there to throw that nasty tennis ball! My son said “Dad, you were wrong, Daisy is still happy.” I told him I underestimated the spirit of Daisy.

Self pity is a human emotion and it is often a precursor to or symptom of depression.  We often tend to focus on our pain instead of our health. Daisy wasn’t focused on her loss, she was just happy she could get around and chase that ball. I often remind people that pain in life is going to happen, but suffering from that pain is an option. I recently lost a dear friend to cancer. She battled hard for two years and the pain she was in was beyond description. She died from cancer, but she refused to suffer from it. I spoke with her two days before she died and asked her how she was doing. She responded as always, “I am so blessed”. Cancer killed her body; however, it had no shot at her spirit.

I am amazed at the number of people who seem to have become addicted to self pity and the mindset that comes with that way of thinking. The greatest curse a person can have is to believe they are cursed. The mind can only believe what it sees and hears. If your inner dialogue is negative self talk, complaining about how bad you feel, or how the world has treated you badly, then that becomes your reality. If you sit around in an unhealthy environment all day and do nothing to change it, that is your reality.  When your focus is on what you don’t have, you are inviting more “lack”. When your focus is on what you do have, you are inviting more “abundance” in your life. Self pity is debilitating because it narrows your thinking to only see the bad.

The ultimate antagonist to self pity is gratitude. It is hard to be sincerely grateful and feel self pity at the same time. Keep a mindset of gratitude so that when you feel negative, self pity based thoughts creeping back in, you can immediately think of things you are grateful for. Refuse to attend the pity party you have been accustomed to having for yourself. Instead, live life. If you are living in a negative situation, ask yourself “why”.  Your life is meant to be lived, not be a victim of it.

What has happened up to this point really doesn’t matter. Let go of your preconceived ideas of what your limiting factors are and get busy. It is time to move on and it is time to stop the negative thinking. It is time to be like Daisy.