On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives, page 86 AA.
Continuing to examine the directions for starting our day, the first motive in question is self-pity.
Pitfall # 1: The package of self-pity is drippy. It contains a whining, moaning, inward focus on the negative. Alcoholics who remain in this wet security blanket of irresponsibility can’t make progress fighting their addiction. Recovery is out of their grasp because they want to think that nothing is their fault. They feel they can’t change anything and everyone should attend their pity-party. Just line up here folks and give multiple, arm-numbing pats to comfort the self-pitier.
Self-pitying individuals go through their entire friend list and work them one by one for sympathy. This kind of person eventually finds that people stop answering their phone calls and stop listening to the sobbing ‘can you just pick me up off the floor again’ conversation. These people may end up paying to have someone even hear their story…their story…their story…their story.
They benefit very little from counseling or wisdom of any kind because, after all, they’re the victim (so they say). The self-pity victim is stuck unless he stops volunteering for the role.
I don’t think self-pity is as much an emotion, as a perspective. The emotions of self-pity are depression, anxiety and sadness, sometimes grief. Rotting self-pity eventually becomes all-obsessive if not checked. That’s not unlike developing another addiction. One thing we can’t afford is another addiction, especially one that makes thinking impossible because we’re so immobilized. Fight it, we must because it is likely that we will eventually become paralyzed by this progressive addiction, whether we actually take a drink or not.
What can a recovering alcoholic do to change this rotting self-focus? Intolerance is one of the only defenses we can raise against this mind numbing condition. If we take our predisposition towards self-pity to God and ask Him to remove it, we can have hope. If it is so comfortable that we don’t want to stop wallowing, then we may return to drinking because the self-pity mindset justifies all behavior, even self-destruction.
Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world. ~ Helen Keller