Anyone who suffers from confidence issues, or low self-esteem like I do  knows what a pity-party is, but allow me to enlighten those of you who are unaware.
A pity party is when someone responds to something they are struggling with (a bad day) in a very dramatic fashion so others pay attention to them and give encouragement (pity).
Growing up I wasn’t able to find self-confidence in the normal ways  which made me view myself as someone who wasn’t as important as everyone else or worthless. Of course this isn’t true, but it was easy to believe sometimes.
To be honest I’m not sure when it happened, but one day a friend hearing me refer to myself as worthless said that I wasn’t, and gave me a compliment. Almost immediately my heart was filled with happiness…and I wanted to feel that way again.
Desiring compliments or encouraging words from others is a very good thing, but soon I began connecting those encouraging words with calling myself worthless, and so a cycle of pity-parties began.
The thing about pity (encouraging words from others because we are hurting) is it brings an almost immediate feeling of happiness. That emotional boost is something a person can quickly become addicted to.
Sadly over time I worked gaining the pity (love) of others down to a science.
- By referring to my self as worthless (man I’m so stupid, ugly)
- By telling people I can’t do things
- By isolating myself from others and looking incredibly sad
- By telling people I was okay while making it obvious I wasn’t on purpose
- By doing everything in my power to let people know how sad I was
As a teen I would have been the World Heavyweight Champion of Self-Pity, and would have worn the championship belt at all times (to get the pity of others of course).
Thankfully today the Lord has shown me the selfishness of pity-parties that focus only making other people think about my problems . But there is still part of my heart that wants everyone to feel sorry for me when I’m having a bad day.
Yesterday for me was when one of those days when very little seemed to go right. There weren’t any huge disasters, just a lot of small setbacks, and after the tenth or fifteenth one my emotions had gone from annoyed to furious.
There was a huge temptation for me to just get on Facebook and type “having a bad day” because I knew within minutes friends would send encouraging notes, and pray that things would go better. But I kept myself away from the computer (it was the source of my frustration anyways) and off social-media.
Now please don’t think I’m saying venting on Facebook is wrong because I’m not. Instead this is something I PERSONALLY cannot do since I know the habit of turning to online friends for pity when things go bad is hard for me to break.
Another reason I didn’t vent on Facebook is experience has taught me pity is a poor excuse for true love or acceptance. See there is a difference between someone saying “John your one of the smartest people I know” after hearing me give an english lesson, or saying the same thing after I call myself dumb.
Pity is something forced from people by my own selfish actions, love is something they give of their own free will.
There is one more reason I’ve stepped away from self-pity. Because those bad days and frustrating experiences are part of God’s Will for my life since they show how much I need Him.
So to all of you recovering approval addicts stop running to social-media, and instead run to the loving God who created that craving for approval in the first place.
- With the Lords help I’ve been able to find my identity in Christ instead of the things that I do, but as a child this was a huge struggle ↩
- athletic ability, good grades, popularity, etc ↩
- there will be times all of us vent about having a bad day but self-pity is different, it purposely tries to make others feel sorry for you so that immediate feeling of happiness can come ↩