Pastor’s Corner August 4th, 2022
“Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”
How often have we yearned for pity from others and, like the Psalmist, have not found it? I know that, when this happens to me I am the first one to show myself the pity I yearn to receive from others. Like pity, self-pity can be destructive. Anything given out too abundantly can lead to problems. I have come to realize that I am the queen of self-pity. As many of you know, I have been dealing with some health challenges lately. The most recent one has been undergoing a third round of oral surgery to deal with my life-long dental issues. I have come to realize that when I am not receiving the pity and support I want from others I give it abundantly to myself. I am not proud of this tendency, but I have come to realize that I must face it in order to deal with it. When mired in a bout of self-pity all I see is the negative. I become painfully aware of the negative things in my life and in the world. Sometimes, I think we as a congregation can also become bogged down by self-pity. When this happens we only see the negative; there are not enough people, money, or resources. While it is important to acknowledge the realities of life, how do we do so without becoming bogged down by negativity?
As I struggle with this issue for myself I came across an article which provided some helpful guidelines for moving out of negativity into a more positive and life affirming perspective. In an article on the Psychology Today website author Amy Morin wrote an article entitled “9 Ways to Get Past Self-Pity: How to stop a downward spiral before it starts.” I found her article helpful personally and, I believe, it could be helpful for us as a community. She began by admitting that we all face difficulties and painful experiences in life. It is important to acknowledge these painful seasons and events, however, it can be self-destructive to move into self-pity. Dealing with adversity in this way can cause more problems. Morin suggested that: “Mentally strong people refuse to allow self-pity to sabotage their goals. Instead, they use life’s inevitable hardships as a way to grow stronger and become better. Here are 9 ways to avoid the trap:” Morin said that mentally strong people:
- Face Their Feelings-they do not focus on whether their problems are “fair” or
whether they suffer more than others.
- Recognize Warning Signs of the Downward Spiral-they become aware of their negative thinking.
- Question Their Perceptions-are things really as bad as they seem?
- Turn Their Negative Thoughts Into Behavioral Experiments-don’t let negative
thoughts become self-fulfilled prophecies. Challenge those thoughts by acting as
if the positive is true.
- Reserve Their Resources for Productive Activities- Mentally strong people refuse
to waste precious time and energy on their misery. Instead, they devote their
finite resources to productive activities that can improve the situation.
- Practice Gratitude- Self-pity is about thinking, “I deserve better.” Gratitude is about thinking, “I have more than I need.”
- Help Other People
- Refuse to Complain
- Maintain an Optimistic Outlook-nurturing a sense of hope is critical for those of us who are people of faith.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough that you do not deal with this struggle on a personal level. However, I know this is a life-long pattern for me and it will require attention and effort on my part to change it. I can begin changing this tendency today. I think this process can guide us toward a more positive outlook here at FCC as well. I invite us all, personally and as a community, to work on eliminating self-pit and negative thinking. With God’s help and guidance we have the chance to embrace a new way of being that embraces genuine feeling, true perceptions, optimism, gratitude, service and action.
In peace and love, Pastor Karen