Updated: Sep 10, 2019
What do some serial killers, stalkers, and everyday whiners have in common? Self-pity. Charles Manson, a spree killer, was considered “the ultimate victim of society.” He wrote songs, played guitar, and never achieved the “success” he believed he deserved.
Charles “Tex” Watson, who became a member of the Manson family and later founded Abounding Love Ministries, from prison said, “His heart was filled with resentment and anger towards society. He deeply blamed others for all his failures.” Manson rallied a group of young followers, imprisoned them, and seduced them into committing horrendous acts of murder.
Self-pity is highly addictive and extremely dangerous; it feels so self-vindicating. When we obsess over the injustice it becomes a belief, and from those beliefs, we act. We believe we are victims trapped in unfair circumstances, but we are really trapped in our head.
Granted, most people don’t become serial killers, but we can certainly become serial whiners. Lured down the “woe is me” road we seek to blame, give excuses, and seek out sympathizers. Danger! Danger! Danger!
This is a trap. We have taken the bait of our offense and fixate on our pain. Psychiatrists have a name for habitually indulgent self-pitiers—injustice collectors. “Those who obsessively dwell on their pain and offense – real or imagined. They enjoy thinking and talking about ‘who has done them wrong!’ With a sick sense of affection, they collect and number each and every offense committed against them.” Yikes!
When sin entered the world, sorrow followed, but God has a way of escape:
1. Stop Making Excuses.
Manson wanted a music career, but the truth of the matter, he just wasn’t very good. Looking at our shortcomings, mistakes, and failures is challenging, and our protective mechanisms kick in. It’s easy to justify our behavior, shift blame, and defend our motives.
It's funny, as we try to rationalize why something didn't work out our excuses are like a red flag signaling to those around us we are shucking our responsibility. Excuses are unattractive and cause people to lose respect. Own it! It's a beautiful thing.
2. Find Your Why.
"Purpose is priceless, while purposelessness is very costly." TD Jakes
You were designed for a purpose. God uses our gifts, personality, experiences, and people in our lives to bring it to pass. If you're Simon Sinek, you refer to it as your "why." Why am I here? To fulfill God's audacious plan for your life. How?
Stop living with the ghosts of the past. Bury them. Stop planting where there is no fruit. Find a place where your time, talent, and treasure are valued. Stop envying someone else's life. You are created in God's image and uniquely positioned to step into your "why."
3. Be Grateful.
Nothing will kick self-pity to the curb like gratitude. Author of Codependent No More, Melody Beattie writes, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow."
Start a gratitude journal. It helps focus your thoughts on what you “have” as opposed to what you “don’t have.”
Don't let the poison of self-pity sabotage your purpose. Stop making excuses, discover your why, and focus on the goodness of God. It's time to step into your "ideal life" and make a difference.