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Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #59 --- Self-Pity
Quotations on Self-Pity (Set No. 1)
While humility is the child of trust, self-pity is simply the offspring of egotism. People who complain show that they have no trust in God.
—F.W. Peirce, Calgary Herald, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 25, 1962.
Resentment soon runs into self-pity and we cry out, “Why did this happen to me?” It has been said that resentment is a brittleness in personality that will not bend to new demands. ... We can become hardened and calloused to the things which happen to us. But this method gives us no opportunity to be creative. ... Next time you are feeling sorry for yourself, ... just use it as an opportunity which God has given you for helping someone else.
—Merritt Faulkner, Lewiston Morning Tribune, Lewiston, Idaho, Oct. 15, 1956.
The spirit of thankfulness is part of the religion of healthy mindedness. One of the greatest causes of low spiritual vitality is the desire for things that we do not possess. The longing to keep up with others or to surpass them is a part of the spirit of our day. It is responsible for much inner and outer breakdown. One way to cast out this evil spirit is through a review of our blessings. No person who thankfully reflects on the blessings of God can become a victim of self-pity.
—Verne C. Brown, Lodi News-Sentinel, Lodi, Calif., June 23, 1937.
Beware of pity, either that offered you by others or that bestowed upon yourself. Pity is a second-rate substitute for acceptance and love of another as an equal. ... Self-pity lures anybody it can to destruction. ... The person who has been accustomed to making excuses for himself or feeling sorry for himself all the time finds that in old age he possesses the unassailable alibi: “You know, at my age I cannot expect much of myself.”
Keep the direction of your life moving outward. Withdrawal into the castle of one’s past or an ever-diminishing present may shut out the hub-bub of the world about us, but it is a kind of living death. Resist the tendency to decrease the circle of your interest.
Keep the direction moving forward, too. Nothing so gives away the fact that we are getting old than that we feel an almost automatic resentment or resistance of change. Inflexibility of spirit is a surer sign of old age than brittleness of the bones.
—L.D. Johnson, The News and Courier, Charleston, S.C., Jan. 26, 1964.
Self-pity not only destroys gratitude; it destroys manhood. It saps courage, self-reliance, energy. Gratitude may not be of any value to the one who receives it, but it is of enormous value to the one who gives it. It is a fountain of cheerful energy. It is like singing at one's work. ... Thankfulness cannot be hoarded or saved or dealt with economically; if one represses it or limits its circulation, there is none left. The spirit of thanksgiving grows by exercise; and it is literally true that the more we give, the more we have left.
—William Lyon Phelps, Delineator, New York, N.Y., November 1934.
Our prayer should be that Christ’s freedom from bitterness and self-pity should be ours, that we, too, should have His ability to prove himself to the tools and environment of his age, that we might have his simplicity and his genuineness. People have needs beyond their yesterdays and todays. Every man has a yearning for tomorrow and finds it in God.
—Albert Wilson, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., Jan. 1, 1934.
Self-pity is a guest that seems ever ready to knock at one’s mental door. The moment anything goes wrong with our plans, our human relations, our business prospects, or our bodily health, the first guests to call at our mental home are fear and self-pity. And if we let them in we shall find ourselves moaning, “Oh my?” or “Isn’t that terrible?” These intruders are not friends. They should be refused admittance.
The way out of any untoward situation is not by dwelling upon it, ... but by mentally turning away from it to what is really true, to the great fact that God, who is infinite Love, is governing, is governing now, and nothing can interfere with His government. Such a realization will lift us above the drag-down of self-centered thinking and set us free.
But the brokenhearted one may say, “My trouble is discouragement; every effort I have made has ended in failure, and I am thoroughly discouraged.” ... David knew courage to be a moral asset much needed in human life. ... He wrote, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.” ... The courage which fits us to face and discipline ourselves will equip us to meet every discordant situation which may arise, and will arm us for every battle against failure and wrong. ...
There is one mental quality with which discouragement cannot dwell; that is gratitude. And gratitude may be the guest of each one of us every moment. If we would conquer discouragement, let us count our blessings. ...
If we live in the past we are apt to live in regret. ...
Many people are not aware they are in bondage. Of those who are aware of it, many are not seeking a way out. It is the human mind which is fettered, and those fetters can be broken only through a desire for freedom, a desire so fervent that it will reach out and grasp some phase of truth, a knowledge of which will set free, as Christ promised.
—Gavin W. Allan, The Sunday Morning Star, Wilmington, Del., Nov. 15, 1942.
Many are drowning in the memory of past failures. It may be in the area of marriage or children, or we may have failed in our occupation. But I believe we can leave our failures in the past. We must not allow our failures to rule our present life. Paul said, “Forgetting those things that are in the past.” (Philippians 3:13.) Paul would not allow past failures to dominate his present thinking.
If we are constantly reflecting on past failure, it is obvious that we are swimming in the muddy water of self-pity, and self-pity is the hallmark of despair and misery. With the help of God, may we view our past failures not as chains, but as steppingstones to a better and more fruitful life. You cannot change the past, but you can lay it to rest; and your attitude determines whether or not you do. ...
Sometimes failure deflates our egos and brings to faith and total submission to God’s will. Failures have a way of becoming steppingstones to victory, if we turn our failures over to God. We must confess our failures and receive forgiveness. ... We can turn our failures over to God and begin again in His grace.
—George Smith, Grayson County News-Gazette, Leitchfield, Ky., March 26, 1998.
Do you indulge yourself in that subtle and damaging mental exercise which for lack of a better term is called self-pity? It is being sorry for yourself, pampering yourself, making excuses for yourself to yourself and others–finally believing that you have the hardest time of anybody in the world. I know of no one mental habit more harmful than this business of self-pity. ...
I have never known a man or a woman who could do very much when they crawled under some juniper bush of self-pity. It strips us of faith and hope and courage. ...
To get up and go back to work and forget [yourself] in something really worthwhile for others ... is the antidote for self-pity."
—Louie D. Newton, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 5, 1936.
To be happy a man must find some purpose so much bigger and greater than he is, that in the struggle for it he forgets himself. Then he comes to see how truly secondary are many other goals such as money or social prestige or power over his fellows which in less demanding situations he normally pursued. ...
Somehow we must rise above our self seeking and our self pity and find some absorbing worthwhile purpose to which we can give ourselves with utter abandonment–perhaps the building of a family, a better government, a church, a project in human relations or community service. Then we will one day wake up and discover that we have been wonderfully happy even in the midst of our struggles and frequent disappointments.
The greatest purpose to which we can give our lives is the purpose God has for them. And the greatest cause, the only cause that is really greater than we are in every respect is the advancement of His kingdom which actually takes in every worthwhile cause. True peace comes only as we lose our ourselves in His purpose.
When that happens, He touches us and transforms us and lifts us above the realm of human effort. He guides and directs and empowers. Then with Paul we can say, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who liveth in me.” Only in His will is our peace.
—Douglas S. Vance, Lewiston Morning Tribune, Lewiston, Idaho, Sept. 17, 1951.
One of the easiest things in the world is to feel sorry for yourself. When one is disappointed or defeated, it is indeed soothing to indulge in an overdose of self-sympathy. But it will destroy your determinations and rob you of self-respect.
But when one begins to say over and over to himself, “God told me to go and He promised to go with me,” he begins to live again and to look straight at himself. He asks, why has my life bogged down? Is it circumstances beyond my control? No. Has God failed me? No. It is simply because I have not done my best.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he begins to say, I am going to quit pretending. Instead of a nurse, I need a boss and I am going to be that boss. No matter what has happened, there is something in life for me and, with God’s help, I will find it. ...
It is easy to feel you are carrying burdens greater than anybody else has borne, to parade your sorrows and difficulties and develop an almost insane desire for sympathetic attention.
Just as some people become addicted to liquor or dope, others become addicted to sympathy and praise. Because one is afraid to face life as it really is, he invents all sorts of misfortunes to gain appreciation. This is the reason so many people “enjoy poor health.”
But when one becomes conscious of a sense of mission and, with the support of the power of God, he begins to fulfill that mission, he doesn’t need to be a martyr.
The basic cause of inferiority is a comparison of ourselves with others. But when one is convinced that he has a purpose in life, that God has given him the necessary abilities and also that God is helping him to accomplish that purpose, then no matter what any other person is or does, there comes into him a sense of personal satisfaction that eliminates envious comparisons. ...
Whenever you face a difficulty or whenever you are confused, don’t give up and start running away. Instead, start asking over and over, “What would Christ do?”
That works wonders because it makes you feel that Christ would do something and, if He would so something, it means that something can be done. Before you know it, you will find a solution that is practical and that you can carry through. You become baptized with self-respect and you have a sense of tremendous, undefeatable spirit.
—Charles L. Allen, Atlanta Journal, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 10, 1950.
How many people are sure that they are the most abused, the most unfortunate, of mankind! Self-pity is an insidious disease of the personality, one of the commonest weaknesses of men.
Few there are indeed who do not indulge in the "luxury" of self-pity from time to time, although most often it is not recognized for what it is. Dwelling on our troubles, and magnifying them, until we become exceedingly sorry for ourselves, is accompanied by certain emotional satisfactions, or the practice would not be so widespread.
Self-pity represents a morbid form of self-consciousness. It is the reaction of a mind centered upon itself. In such a state our minds are taken up unduly with our own misfortunes, our own miseries, the injustices we have suffered, the unfairness of others to us, the "bad breaks" life had handed us, the good things we have been deprived of, and the great things we would have accomplished if we had a fair chance.
We easily convince ourselves that we are unusually discriminated against, and before long we are enjoying" the utmost mental misery. A little courageous analysis should disclose the fact that, whatever may have happened to us on the outside, we are quite completely absorbed with ourselves on the inside. In other words, self-pity is a form of selfishness.
Self-pity generally represents an ingenious method of dodging responsibility. To explain our failures, we emphasize the unfairness of the universe to us, or the disproportionate accumulation of our personal misfortunes.
The implication is that we would have accomplished much if we had not been so unfairly assailed by the disasters of life, and our thoughts become a psychological smoke screen manufactured in an effort to save "face." "What could you expect of such a terribly sick man?" "I've had troubles enough to kill most people; it's a wonder I am able to do anything at all."
Self-pity is a partially disguised attempt, moreover, to gain attention, or to obtain sympathy. Our egos must be fed; and the most welcome food is some sort of attention. We all crave the notice of others. That's the chief reason why children cry, and grownups pity themselves in public.
The exclamations of the self-pitier sound superbly humble, but they are often (unintentional) bids for compliments. How gratifying to hear someone object, "My dear, don't say those terrible things about yourself; you are considered one of the brightest women in the society." Such, of course, is food for the soul!
What a shock comes afterward when someone takes a self-pithier at his own estimate of himself. During a game at a party the gushing woman continued to exclaim, "Oh, I'm so very stupid!" To which a heartless wretch (who must have been a psychologist) finally replied, "Of course, Madam, but why bother to mention it?"
The surest cure for self-pity is the courage to see it for exactly what it is. If we're made of the right stuff, that ought to end it.
—J. Hudson Ballard, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., May 29, 1941.
Self-pity is a treacherous enemy that is liable to come into anyone's heart at any time and when it does it is liable to lead us into unrighteousness. Nothing can undermine the soul of man any more, and nothing can cause us to stumble more than self-pity. It is a noxious week that grows under any conditions and without any care. As soon as it begins to come into our hearts it makes us ask the many questions with their "whys," "ifs," "yets," and their ilk. It makes us say, "Oh God, why hast thou sent such trials and hardships upon me when I have tried to be so faithful to thee?"
When our minds become filled with thoughts of self-pity it would be wise and do us well to go to God's word and study examples of endurance.
David one time had just almost fallen and his feet had almost slipped when God brought him into the sanctuary, as it were, and now we can hear David say, "Thou wilt lead me, O God, and afterward take me to eternal glory." (Psalms 73:24.)
Job was tried many times, but he showed great endurance, and not one time did he allow self-pity to enter his heart.
We can have sorrow in our hearts, but we want that sorrow to be for others. We can have pity in our hearts, but let's make it pity for those who suffer. We can have distress in our hearts, but our distress should be for the millions of lost, that are doing without God and Christ. Truly pitiful is he who treasures within his heart self-pity.
—T.W. Phillips, Jr., The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., April 27, 1925.
Along the life-climb to health and peace are strewn all sorts of thorns and thistles, briars and noxious weeds. Into the delicate flesh of most sensitive people there sticks and stings the thorn of self-pity. When its twin briar–self-justification–also obtrudes its thorny clutch into the human climber, the path becomes at once too steep, the load too heavy; and down the wretch falls by the roadside to weep and groan in gasping breaths. The battle is lost, the fight is over.
Nothing is so offensive as to sane and well-balanced climbers, who have struggled partway upward, as the moan and plaints of these dreary failures. ...
No really unselfish person ever pities himself. Self-pity is self-respect gone to seed. Sympathize with everybody else except yourself. ... Self-pity puts blinders and hobbles on you, ties your hands and crosses your feet, and you will never get anywhere with so painful a handicap. ... Don’t allow morbid self-pity to canker your spirit. ... If you are ill, self-pity will double your pain and treble your affliction. Forget it. Think brightly, speak cheerfully, and help disease to flee from you.
—Susa Young Gates, Relief Society Magazine, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 1916.
There are times in every life when disappointment and defeat seem to be the order of the day. Life has a way of pushing us into a corner. Sometimes we defeat ourselves by the way we live. Then, there are experiences which seem to come from beyond our control. Try as we may, there is no detour around some of the deep holes in the road of life.
I tell people there are three ways we can face defeat. God never permits the devil to close all the doors of escape.
1. We can simply ignore defeat. Of course, when we ignore our failures, we are living in an unreal world. We are simply deferring the inevitable. Before a person can find in life a noble purpose, he must face himself. The road of escape has been used by many, but it eventually leads to a dead end street.
If I have a tooth that is decaying, it would be foolish for me to ignore it. The intelligent thing to do would be to go to the dentist and have it treated. No person can travel the road that leads to victory and at the same time refuse to recognize his limitations and failures.
2. We can fill our minds with self-pity, put on garments of despair and live by the philosophy that "there is no use to try." The people who choose this road will never know the joy of looking at the sunrise after a long dark night.
I know a man who has many talents. He has been highly successful in business. However, he considers himself a failure, and in some areas he is. He has managed to plant, cultivate and grow a better-than-average crop of despair and self-pity. He needs to become aware of the voice of God and follow the commands of our Creator. Many people have buried themselves, along with their faith and talents, under the garments of self-pity and despair. No man ever found an answer to a perplexing problem of life in these clothes.
3. Finally, we can accept defeat as a challenge from God. Actually, we are never defeated as long as we accept experiences of failure as opportunities to develop strong spiritual muscles. The man who sees in his disappointments the chance to weave some threads of gold into the tapestry of life will never remain in the room of defeat.
Jesus saw His greatest challenge in the most troubled period of His life. The most tragic experience in His life brought Him His greatest opportunity. He turned the cruel, ugly cross into a shining crown of victory. How did He do it? He transformed it by accepting the cross as a challenge from God. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13.)
—Robert V. Ozment, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 1, 1961 .
Value yourself as somebody. Self-depreciation clips one's wings. It is a sin. It opens the floodgates of the soul to all manner of pettiness and weakness and meanness. Perhaps you excuse yourself from activity by saying, "My influence counts for nothing, my ability is so limited." That is not God's thought about you. He has honored you with a distinct thought and purpose never bestowed on anyone else. He has given you talents and powers in an altogether new and unrepeatable combination.
Value yourself! Remember that you are the only one that God has to depend upon in the place in which you stand. There may be thousands of other lives round about. Rut you are the only one God has to depend on at that particular place. This truth gives immense importance to the life of every one of us. Therefore, I repeat, value yourself.
—Henry Alford Porter, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Sept. 19, 1929.
Self-pity is a terrible enemy. No man is ever safe who entertains it even for one minute. It will deplete his strength, becloud his mind, dissipate his will, distort his vision, and unman him for any worthy action.
The best cure for self-pity is to stare for a time at the woes which other men are carrying bravely.
Let there be no attempt to evade the hard, bitter facts of life. All of us have troubles. No one has ever been able to find any insulation which will shut him off from them. We do not save ourselves by hiding; we win only by surmounting our difficulties, and it is in this that the incurables can help us. So many of them seem to do it, and if they actually can we can.
If you are in a low mood, if you have grown dependent, if you are horrified at the prospect which life holds for you, then go out and enjoy the company of someone who has triumphed over a difficulty that is greater than yours. Spend an evening reading to some blind person; go down to the jail and visit with some man who is face to face with eternity; hunt up some hard-pressed family and provide for them some little joy.
The best cure for despair is tackling some impossibility. The best remedy for self-pity is taking positive action in behalf of some sufferer. The one way out is the way up.
The word in Genesis, "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18), is true in so many situations. No man is safe with only melancholy as his companion.
Any person who is attempting to lighten the load which is breaking the hearts of other people is very likely to forget his own load. It is a strange thing, but true, that as we lift on the burdens of other people we find our own growing lighter. Some of the happiest people you will ever meet are the burden-bearers who have slipped out from under their own griefs long enough to bear the griefs of others.
—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., March 11, 1948.
Man is nearest God when he feels pity for the unfortunate; he is nearest nothing when he feels pity for himself.
—Robert Quillen, Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., May 8, 1920.
Most sins begin today in self-pity. In our homes there is incompatibility, self-pity, temptation and then the sin. There is an impulse for every sin, but we shut our eyes to it and deceive ourselves into believing it is incompatibility, oppression or what not. It is not difficult to be honest with the world, but it is exceedingly difficult to be honest with ourselves.
—Bruce B. Corbin, Lake Charles American-Press, Lake Charles, La., Dec. 13, 1920.
Falling deeper and deeper into a state of self-pity, we are almost hypnotized by our misery. ... The danger before us is [when] we allow disillusionment to lead to self-pity.
—Joseph R. Sizoo, New York Times, New York, N.Y., May 27, 1940.
Envy of others often crystallizes into bitterness–bitter bread of emptiness and self-pity.
—Browning Ware, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 7, 1974.
Self-pity is an opiate for the will to do better.
—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 17, 1929.
The sin of self-pity is unfortunate, yet those who are guilty will discover that, if they turn their thoughts from the inward to the outward, they have great capacity for sympathy and compassion upon those who are unfortunate.
—William Ward Ayer, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 6, 1938.
The mind not occupied with constructive thoughts tends to become neurotic, to indulge in self-pity, to borrow trouble, to think immoral thoughts, to get into mischief.
—H.M. Baggarly, Tulia Herald, Tulia, Texas, June 28, 1962.
Don't believe that everybody else is happier than you. Happiness comes from within and self-pity keeps it from coming out.
—Carlysle H. Holcomb, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 26, 1953.