`I NEVER feel sorry for myself.'' How many of us could honestly say that? I certainly couldn't back when I was in high school and college. I was a chronic ``self-pitier.'' During my school and college careers I frequently indulged in self-pity when I didn't do as well as others did or as others expected me to do. Later, I remember, I felt sorry for myself because I hadn't yet found the right person to marry.
It took a long time before I finally faced up to the fact that for years I had been wallowing in the depths of self-pity. Even knowing that my self-pity was not justified -- I had a comfortable home, loving friends, and a good job -- didn't stop me from feeling sorry for myself.
I gradually found my way out of the swamp of self-pity by putting into practice the truths of Christian Science I had been taught. One important victory came when I realized -- after being single for five or six years after college -- that I had been thinking of myself as incomplete. I began to see that since I was God's child, my identity was actually spiritual and already complete. I did not need another person to make me complete. The realization that I could trust God to supply all my needs, including companionship, had the effect of making me more grateful for the good I had and more eager to share it with others.
``Are we really grateful for the good already received?'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks. ``Then,'' she continues, ``we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.'' And she adds, ``Action expresses more gratitude than speech.''1
Self-pity is the opposite of gratitude. It's not good for us, even in small doses. Gratitude opens the door to more good. Self-pity closes it, blinding us to the good that God is giving us now.
Yes, I found someone to share my life with. I also realized that I would not have been as good a partner earlier. If we stay in the ``self-pity'' mode, marrying or any other event will not automatically make us happy. In fact, I still had to deal with the temptation to feel sorry for myself after my marriage. But I've got better at recognizing the harmfulness of self-pity and so have been more successful in keeping it out of my thinking. Mrs. Eddy urges her readers, ``Stand porter at the door of thought.''2
We can be alert to keep self-pity from finding a home in our consciousness. The basis for rejecting it is the fact that God, Mind, didn't originate self-pitying thoughts. And they have no power of their own to make us think them. Man's selfhood -- our real identity -- is spiritual, made by God to express honesty, love, joy, intelligence. Man has an undeniable right to experience the good that God is causing him to express and enjoy.
Christ Jesus taught that God is loving man continually. This is brought out so well in his parable of the prodigal son. The father's statement to the elder son is true for each of us, as members of God's family: ``Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.''3 We can't really believe that and still feel sorry for ourselves!
And we can't believe that and think our happiness depends on chance. Since God is already giving us all good, it's not what is ``out there'' that determines our happiness. With God's help -- which we always have -- we can experience fulfillment beyond what we have ever known.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3. 2Ibid., p. 392. 3Luke 15:31.