Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality. –John W. Gardner

Self-pity was the topic of the meeting I attended this morning.  Disclaimer:  I am not filled with self-pity at the moment, and therefore it is much easier to write on the subject.  When I am deep in the throes of this emotion, all logic tends to fly out the window, so maybe I can write about it now, then have some reference material the next time I experience it!

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. writes that resentments are the number one offender of alcoholics.  I must respectfully disagree.  At least for this alcoholic, self-pity is the number one offender, because when I am caught up in self-pity, I will start seeking resentments, and then the downward spiral begins.

Self-pity is certainly not unique to the addicts of the world.  Who on this Earth doesn’t enjoy the luxury of bemoaning all the problems life gives them?  I have yet to meet the person that doesn’t get some satisfaction in complaining about the various injustices done to them.  At the end of the day, though, where does it get you?  To date, I have not had one episode of self-pity that ended well.

So what’s the solution when you are caught up in this negative emotion?  The reading this morning suggested taking a step back and looking at your whole life, the idea being that there are many more blessings than there are injustices.  Sounds like a solid plan, but I know for me, when I am truly feeling sorry for myself, the last thing I am prone to do is attempt a gratitude list.  There were many in my meeting that felt differently, so I know it is a viable option, just not one I am likely to take.

Two things have effectively worked for me when I am filled with self-pity.  The first, and most readily available, is turning it over to God.  Just telling Him how I am feeling, and asking Him what I am to do with the feelings.  I’d be lying if I said the results are instantaneous, but sooner rather than later I am able to get a perspective on any given situation when I ask Him to help me with it.

The second thing I do is talk about it.  Just laying out the situation to someone usually puts it in perspective before I even get feedback.  Keeping it bottled up inside keeps the self-pity festering, which only leads to chaos, both internal and external.  Believe me, I have learned this lesson the hard way!

Today’s Miracle:

In a week of announcing my anniversary, today was the most special, because I got to announce it in my home group.  It was one year ago today that I found this special group of people, and to get to celebrate this anniversary with them was priceless.


Posted on February 1, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Boy! I am SO glad you wrote about this! Excellent post my friend 🙂
    Congrats on your ONE year!!!


  2. Wonderful post. I was a great foot soldier in the Army of Self – Pity. I could wallow all day in it and wear it like a fuzzy robe and just lose myself and languish in the comfort of it. What I found is that in early sobriety (and even later) was that I still reached out to self-pity when I was feeling off centered or down. After taking a look at it for some time, with the help of my sponsor, I realized that I was using self-pity in some ways the same way I did alcohol – to escape, to stay in my self and to self “medicate” or alter my state. I had a real hard time getting out of the habit of getting into self-pity. Like you mentioned, I had to keep looking at the big picture and see what I was truly grateful for. It was easier when I wasn’t in self-pity, like you said, but it did become easier.

    Congrats on celebrating your one year with your home group!


  3. My sponsor’s prescription for self-pity is service. It’s so annoying.


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