Ditch the self-pity

Posted by Samantha on May 2, 2011 in Thought for the day |

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.

Helen Keller, US blind & deaf educator (1880 – 1968)

I remember how embarrassing it was when I began to realise how much of my time was spent in mortifyingly self-piteous silent dialogues.  My head was quite simply FULL of rubbish that was making me cross with my kids. 

For some reason hanging out the washing was a particularly hated chore of mine.  There was something about the mundane banality of hanging up socks that I had decided was beneath me.  “I have a PhD in psychology you know” I’d tell myself, as I dropped socks onto radiators.

 “I shouldn’t have to tidy these rooms up again so soon” I’d think, as I began the thankless task (so I’d tell myself) of tidying up my children’s bedrooms.  Again.

Never mind that my children were four and two and keeping bedrooms tidy was clearly way beyond them.  Never mind that it’s clearly preposterous that a child’s bedroom “should never” be untidy.

Never mind that it was MY JOB to be a full-time at-home mother.

I felt sorry for myself.  I felt angry.  I felt left out.  And yet, I didn’t want to go to work outside our home.  I’d tried that and it hadn’t worked for our family.  I felt trapped.

And indeed I was trapped by my thoughts.  They had me between a rock and a hard place. 

But thankfully once I turned up the volume on them and began to examine them, I started to see them for what they were: ridiculous.

I began to ditch them.  I began to recognise – as Helen Keller did – that if you fall victim to self-pity then you can never do anything good in the world.

Today, when I’m in the grip of self-pity I know that I need a little time out to get some perspective. 

After trying various techniques, I’ve decided on two favourites for dissolving self-pity: one is to get my gripe down on paper; the other is to count my blessings.  Once I do either of these, my self-pity is as good as gone.

And even more amazingly, as I write today, I can’t even remember when I last needed to do either of those.

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