Have you ever been at a party where someone had too much to drink? It can get ugly. Whether “true feelings” flow or someone is emboldened by lack of judgment, generally tears are involved. Harsh words erupt. Tempers flare. The party’s ruined. And the next morning is filled with regrets as details of “what really happened” come to light.
I’ve seen this happen when people drink shots. Shots seem fun at first. But the alcohol quickly takes over as their faculties go out the window. They begin losing that “good” feeling. And the more they drink to recapture it, the farther away they drift into a river of oblivion.
Pity is like drinking shots of alcohol.
Pity is feeling sorry for ourselves. Sorry for our situation. Sorry for the bad things that have happened to us. Sorry that we don’t have the life we think we should. The problem with pity is that we let ourselves soak in it without doing anything to change where we are or where we’re headed. And the pity shots begin.
At first, pity shots make us feel really good. And so we keep doing them. “Look what happened to me.” “My life isn’t fair.” “I shouldn’t be the one to have to deal with this.” But the more pity shots we take, the worse we feel. We want to get that good feeling we had at first. So we continue pity shot after pity shot. But we can’t regain that pity high. We feel sick, depressed and incoherent. Our life feels like a party gone wrong.
And the next day we wake up with a bad headache and pity hangover.
We try to remember what we did or said. How we blabbed and cried and revealed way too much. And as we remember, we try to forget.
No one wants to be around someone who’s wallowing in pity. When we’re the ones taking pity shots, we bring ourselves down and everyone around us. When someone else is drowning in pity, we don’t know what to say or how to react.
We should handle pity shots differently if we’re the ones overloading on them, or if someone else is.
If we’re the ones at the bar with pity shots lined up and waiting, it’s time to get up off the bar stool. Let’s walk away from the self-destructive “woe is me” attitude and the damaging effect it has over time. We need to keep things in perspective and continue to focus on how far we’ve come. And the good things ahead. This isn’t to say that we can’t be real with others or we can’t share our frustrations and fears. We need to vent. We need to get things out so they don’t bottle up inside of us. But it’s important to have one or two close friends, our sisters, to talk us through the times we’re feeling down.
If someone else is filling up on pity shots, we need to be sensitive. Even if we’re tired of hearing the same thing over and over. Their feelings are very real to them, and we don’t always know what’s happening behind the scenes in their life. There may be a lot more to the story than what they’ve revealed. So let’s be that friend who helps them put down the shots of destructive thinking. If we can help them start focusing on the big picture and the hope ahead, things will look a whole lot brighter for them come morning.
We all have times in life when we make bad decisions that lead to bad consequences. And our current real life may include scars of the past. During times of turmoil when we’re struggling with what has happened or where we are, it’s easy to start feeling sorry for ourselves. But let’s break the cycle. Instead of reaching for pity shots, let’s praise God in our circumstances. Not for our circumstances, but in them. By doing so we take away the sting of pity. And we open the door to a much better tomorrow.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
May I pray?
Father God, there are some days we don’t feel good about life. Things we’ve done or decisions someone else made bring us to a place of sorrow and regret. And instead of taking action to move on in our situation, sometimes we just want to sit with our pity shots. The feelings are real, but pity can suck the joy out of us. Help us to reach out to a friend and share our feelings without wallowing in pity. Help us to open up to You, Lord, so You can shine Your light of truth in our dark places. Today, may we have a heart of praise. No matter where we are, may we offer You a prayer of thanks in our circumstances. May we remember that nothing will stay the same, and tomorrow can be a much brighter day. Amen.
Q4U: What has helped you to back away from pity shots?
What a great picture of what I’ve been doing these past 40+ years!!! Wow, do I ever feel convicted. I’m on the wagon now. 🙂
I was just reading this morning that Jesus learned obedience through His suffering. He never complained, grew bitter, nor gathered His disciples around to tell them all that was going wrong. He completely trusted His heavenly Father with His life. So should I!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, S2BSv. I need a lesson in pity sobriety too. It’s so easy to go too far past talking things through, and it becomes complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I’m getting off the bar stool now 🙂
Sometimes I do get into a pity party mode (Which reminds me, if I make it to the reunion in Oct and I head in that direction; divert me as quickly as possible). One thing that a woman taught me to do is a “5 finger” prayer where you pray for your family first, people you met in the past day or so next, leaders of all stripes 3rd, people in trouble (the sick, widows/widowers, etc…) after that, then and only then pray about or for yourself. That usually helps perspective. 😀
I like the 5 finger prayer! What a great idea. And hope to see you in Oct.
Forgot to mention Joy, with the 5 finger prayer you start on the thumb and end on the pinky/little finger. Makes sense on a few levels, eh?