The incredibly destructive emotion of Self Pity


 Self Pity is one of the most destructive and yet most prevalent emotions that I encounter in life as a Pastor.

 In the bible Elijah had a bout of Self Pity and ultimately it was this that took him out of leadership

 1 Kings 19:14-16

14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
15 Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.

 Self Pity is worship of yourself – it is a totally self indulgent emotion, that fast becomes an addiction – Hi My name is John Smith and I am a pity addict. People who have self pity find that their thoughts and feelings are paralysed as they get caught in the “woe is me mentality”

 The following is a list of things that  self pity will do to you:-

  •  Get you to compare yourself to others – and there will always be someone better looking, richer, smarter and with more friends
  •  You feel great sorrow for yourself and your situation 
  • Self Pity Traffics in Shame, guilt and regret and so you will struggle with these feelings 
  • Self Pity will get you to think that the world is here to serve you 
  • It will get you to think that the world is unfair 
  • It will get you to withdraw from your friends – tell you that your friends are better off without 
  • Self Pity and happiness cannot co-exist together. You can have self pity or healthy relationships, Self Pity or Success,  Self Pity or Happiness, but you can’t have both. 
  • Self Pity will put you on the pathway to disaster 
  • Self Pity causes a paralysis of your actions. Self Pity and forward momentum in life do not co-exist. 
  • Self Pity is used by the devil to stop effectiveness in the Kingdom of God 
  • Self Pity is an enemy of choice – and when you do choose, those choices lack any kind of strength 
  • Self Pity makes you unattractive 
  • Self Pity turns you into a complainer 
  • Self Pity is like quicksand – the more you wallow in it the more you sink 
  • Self Pity is  a means of punishing one’s self out of shame or guilt (example: I’m so stupid, ugly, etc.; I’ll never be…) 
  • Self Pity is a misguided  attempt to seek emotional intimacy with others by evoking their feelings of  compassion 
  • Self pity will cause you to keep unforgiveness 
  • Self Pity will rob you of your hope
  •  Self Pity will diminish your understanding of how God sees you – even to the point where you will openly scoff at the idea that you are loved and valued by God 
  • Self Pity will cause you to become  incredibly selfcentred 
  • Self Pity is an all consuming monster that will destroy everything in your life except itself. 
  • Self Pity feeds on the destruction that it causes and get stronger each time around until only itself is left. 
  • The ultimate expression of self pity is suicide

  In order to get release from self-pity, there are several steps we must take:

 1) Confess/admit the sin of self-pity. Confess how you may have misjudged God’s character by doubting His sovereignty (control over circumstances), goodness and kindness (feelings of being punished). Confess your hopelessness, disappointment, fear, anger, etc. 

2) Forgive others who have wounded you. Ask God to forgive you for misjudging His character, for doubting Him. You may need to forgive yourself for the sin for which you are punishing yourself. Remember that not forgiving yourself is a form of putting yourself above God.

 3) Relinquish the right to not forgive someone for wounding you. Relinquish the right to self-pity, or holding on to your pain – (Rom 12:1-2)

 4) Ask for the grace/ability to hope and praise God. It is also important to praise God for the attribute of His character that you misjudged. For example: His sovereignty, goodness, His desire for relationship with us (intimacy), His love for us. Find Scriptures that demonstrate that attribute in His dealings with other people

 Psalm 42:5 (New King James Version)
 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
         And why are you disquieted within me?
         Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
         For the help of His countenance.[

The brother of the Prodigal son in the parable that Jesus told was given to Self Pity. Its an ugly, destructive, all consuming emotion. If you struggle with Self Pity, seek some help. Talk to a trusted friend, go and see a leader or pastor at your church. Dont allow it to fester and cause damage in your life.


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Categories: Sermon Notes, Theology, Wisdom for life

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5 replies

  1. Really excellent Peter, thanks.
    Sums up many of the thoughts I have had on the topic, after going thru a period of it myself some years back.

  2. oh God i know only to well the crippling grip of self pity & loathing …also such loneliness that i never though i’d be free from. The only way out of it has been going back to God & let Him take over my life again. Pain .. no matter in what measure it is served is still pain …turning it inwards started my roller coaster ride to self pity & all that it brings with it. I thank God He still loved me & accepted me just as i was …altho I’m the 1st to admit He would not/ will not leave me to stay in such a state because He loves me so much …it has taken courage & sometime forcefulness to get up & move forward. Every day it’s a choice to put aside my own selfishness & push forward in prayer & praise & worship & encouragement of others. I can’t say i get there all the time but i am making progress 🙂 I also have to say it’s been because i’ve let good friends back into my life … & becoming teachable again. Thank you Ps Peter for your wisdom & most of all your friendship …i appreciate your honesty, humour & down to earth creativity in how to live this life here on earth 🙂 you’re a rare breed my friend 🙂 Lizz

  3. Two years have I looked for a job in the city/country that is my wife’s home so I can take her back where she will be at peace. Two years I have failed. It’s easy to say don’t feel self-pity but nothing else can I feel.


  1. Thoughts on Loneliness–The Problem No One Likes to Admit to « peterpilt

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