By Lydia Wilson
For the Bali Times
KEROBOKAN ~ Last week I was asked to share what I know about how to let go of persistent self-pity. I’ve learned that self-pity is our natural reaction when we are finding ourselves in a situation that we don’t like to be in.
As we feel the emotional pain from it, it encourages us to do something positive to change it by self-introspection or by facing our fears to positively express our feelings about the situation so that we can reach an understanding of why it is happening and grow wiser from it.
As our perception creates the feeling we experience, if there is nothing we can do to change the situation, we can learn to accept by changing our perception of it. If we let ourselves unconsciously dwell in the self-pity by continuously blaming others or the situation or ourselves for our pain, we will not be free from our suffering.
I have come across many clients who have suffered from this unconscious feeling sorry for themselves since they were young. It happens quite a lot to older siblings who felt that they were the center of their parents’ attention until their baby brother or sister came along.
As parents have to take care of the baby and do not have much time to spend with them anymore, and as in their young mind they don’t understand why, they often felt left out and some started to feel sorry for themselves. They felt their parents did not love them anymore or loved their siblings more.
Some suffered in silence and became quieter and withdrawn. Some flunked their school grades. Some needed constant approval from their parents by doing their best to please them – i.e. by getting their school work considerably improved and continuously competing with the other siblings, hoping they could get more attention from their parents. If they didn’t get enough recognition for their efforts, they felt insecure of their parents’ love for them.
In severe cases, some started to behave more aggressively by rebelling and exhibiting all sorts of negative behavior to express their pain. Parents who do not understand these symptoms usually get annoyed or easily irritated with them, which makes them feel even sorrier for themselves because it is then proven to them that their perception is true, that their parents do not love them anymore.
Some of us grow up and still blame our parents for our failures and unhappiness. Life becomes a struggle and we suffer from it. We would like to be happy but we don’t know how to. We want to run away from it all, hoping to find freedom from this emotional pain, but freedom is not a place; freedom is in our mind. Happiness is a state of mind.
From every problem there is an opportunity for us to learn wisdom. When we have learned what it is there to teach us, we become wiser from it. It teaches us that there are reasons for why things are happening to us and the reason is about how we can learn from it and spiritually grow wiser.
By understanding the reasons why certain unpleasant things are happening to us and by changing our negative perceptions of it, we will let go of our self-pity and find happiness and a peaceful mind.
For some of us who cannot let go of our self-pity, life seems to be full of problems. Negative things seem to keep happening to us one after another. Our body becomes sick and our mind is in a constant state of turmoil. It happens because as we unconsciously let ourselves stay in the negative, our feelings become negative and it attracts negativity. The more we feel sorry for ourselves, the more we attract the very things that we do not like to happen to us. In the end we feel so overwhelmed that we start to think the world or even God is against us.
I found there are many ways we can let go of persistent self-pity. First of all, accept that self-pity is useful – it encourages us to change, to take responsibility of our perceptions because the way we see things creates how we feel about them.
As a child we probably didn’t understand why our parents did what they did or why others bullied us. However, as an adult and through the experiences that we have, we can learn to understand and let it go.
We can learn a better way to communicate our feelings. Instead of keeping quiet and suffering from it all or confronting people with accusations – which would only make them erect an invisible wall of defense and everything we say would just bounce back at us – accept that we have the push button. We can express it in a better way, such as: “I feel hurt when you did that” or “I would like to understand why you did it.” When we do this, we open a line of positive communication.
Forgiveness is also one of the best ways to let go of self-pity. By understanding what made others do what they did or what makes them the way they are bring us the ability to truly forgive, which brings the realization that there is actually nothing to forgive because we are all doing our best in the way we know how.
Letting go of our expectations of others to change for us is another way of letting go of self-pity. Expectations of others to be the way that we wish them to be only brings disappointment. As we all have a tendency of measuring others from ourselves, we tend to expect others to behave in the same way we do. Yet everyone is different and being able to accept them the way they are brings us the peace within.
Problems in life are opportunities for us to learn wisdom and it is up to us how we wish to see it. Do we wish to see it as a challenge for us to become a better and wiser person? Or do we wish to stay the way we are and not learn anything? It’s up to us how long we wish to stay in our suffering.
Till next week, love and light.
Lydia Wilson is a transpersonal hypnotherapist and trainer based in Kerobokan, Bali. If you have a question you would like answered in this column, write to Lydia at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more go to www.bluelight7.com.