Friday, 18 January 2013

A killer called self-pity

I knew a woman widowed from her youth. She would always stop me and recount her woes. It was a constant litany of how her in-laws had mistreated her after her husband's death, how she struggled alone to feed her children and how workmates made her job a living hell. When her name came up in conversations, I visualised a visage drawn backward by pain and self pity both real and imagined.

Did I ever see her smile or laugh at a joke? I really can't recall. I'm sure she did, I mean one can't go through life without ever laughing even against one's will, can one? Sooner or later one has to laugh at some Naga joke or other. As the years went on, people began to studiously avoid the company of this woman. They went out of their way to get out of her way. Can one put it like that? I mean that if they saw her coming one way, they went another way. And it wasn't funny. She grew lonelier and lonelier until she shrivelled up and died. Not in the natural. But she died spiritually. The last I heard of her she had become inundated in debts and lost the few friends she had made along the way.

Self-pity is a killer. It is an ongoing quarrel with the world. It operates as an addiction. If you are addicted to self-pity, you will find occasion every day to feed your addiction. People will cut you off on the highway, shopkeepers and salesmen will be rude to you and restaurants will serve you last. It is not hard to predict. If you expect others to treat you badly they will pick up those vibes and behave accordingly. When all his misfortunes came upon him, Job declared, “What I feared has come to pass.” If you expect to receive favour, you will get what you hope for but if you expect abusive treatment, the same will come to you.

There are some self-pitying beings who see an offence in every action, word or deed of others. Such an attitude is even worse than that of the first lot. No matter what you do or say they will be offended. So you can never get away without hurting their feelings.

Self-pity is rooted in extreme self absorption. It is constantly putting self interest first that creates the perfect environment for self-pity. There is only one antidote for self pity. That is turning one's attention from oneself to something or someone else. Becoming God-absorbed instead of continuing to be self-absorbed puts God at the centre of our focus, and not ourselves. We become finer beings and are able to lift ourselves above the crass pettiness that sometimes is a part of life on earth. Hopefully becoming God-absorbed would help us realise that life is not really about us but about something much bigger than us.

Originally published at

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