What to do with Self-Pity


self pityI’ve been tempted to wallow in self-pity today on several different levels.

But I’m choosing not to do it.

There are a couple reasons I’m rejecting the draw of feeling sorry for myself, not the least being words that ring in my ears from that great teacher Oswald Chambers:

“I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him.

I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block.

When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. Click to Tweet

He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness.

Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world.” Click to Tweet


Elisabeth Elliott

He’s not the only one who sears my soul on this subject. Author Elisabeth Elliott also used to nail me to the wall in a similar fashion:

 “Self-pity is a death that has no resurrection, a sinkhole from which no rescuing hand can drag you because you have chosen to sink.”

She goes on elsewhere to give direction on what to do with self-pity:

 “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.”

I also have the example of that wonderful sage, Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables:

 Anne Shirley: Can’t you even imagine you’re in the depths of despair?

Marilla Cuthbert:  No I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God.


I know they’re right and so I’m turning my back on the luxury of feeling sorry for myself.

I’m rejecting it, kicking it to the curb and choosing to stand tall and hope in God for I will yet praise him.

But what do you do when events seem to pile up and you’re back is aching from carrying burdens and disappointments?

Here are five suggestions of what to do when you want nothing more than to crawl into a hole and hide away from your disappointments. Click to Tweet

1. Recognize you’re disappointed and acknowledge it happens to everyone.

Scripture reminds us: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Who has overcome the world? Me and my talents?

No, Jesus.

2. Talk to God about it and refuse to condemn yourself for what has happened–unless, of course, you need to confess sin.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Just because you’ve had a disappointment, doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. Don’t swallow the lie.

3. Acknowledge you do not have to feel sorry for yourself, but you can cast that burden into God’s lap and He will accept it.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

The temptation to feel sorry for ourselves can overwhelm, but we need to remember that God doesn’t turn his back on us–he’ll give us a way of fleeing from that temptation.

Perhaps I need to share my burden with a friend, and ask for prayer to get through the difficulty.

(Beware a friend, however, who feeds bitterness into your soul over that disappointment).

4. Trust God knows what he is doing with your life.

Psalms 42 and 43 remind me to take my eyes off myself and point them where they belong:

Why are you cast down, O my soul?

And why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God;

For I shall yet praise Him,

The help of my countenance and my God.

5.  Thank Him for what He will do with this disappointment and for what He has planned for you in the future.

The Bible tells us “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The best place for me is in the center of God’s will for my life. He knows the future, I do not. He knows how he wants to use my gifts, my frailties, my hopes and circumstances to His glory, not mine.

Who am I to complain of what the Creator of the Universe–who knows the beginning and the end and every hair on my head– has done with my life?

Bonus: Know that you will understand and be able to put this disappointment into better context later.

The infamous “they” say you can best see God’s will in the rear view mirror. Click to Tweet

My life experience has demonstrated that over and over again. I choose to believe that today’s disappointments, personal, physical and professional (I’ve had quite a day!) all rest in God’s hands–right where they belong.

It all comes down to do I trust God with my life or not? Click to Tweet

I choose God.

Rejoice with me, won’t you?


God is good. Even when I don’t see how or why.




Leave a comment


  1. Spot-on!

    The worst thing about self-pity is that it takes away others; prerogative for sympathy. We can’t do “this” – any of it – alone, and to focus inward is, as you mentioned, to reject a proffered helping hand.

    But it’s more than that – it fills the space with lead, where others could fill you with helium. You become a diver’s belt rather than a balloon.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  August 22, 2014

      Diver’s belt full of lead? No matter I feel like I’m descending when the black moods hit! Thanks, Andrew.

  2. What a wonderful post, Michelle! And a very needed and important one!

    Self-Pity is a useless emotion.

    You quoted two of my heroes. Oswald Chambers and Elisabeth Elliott. I have two autographed books from E. Elliot, “Through Gates of Splendor”, that I cherish. The second one, Lars, her husband, needed to assist her with. What a beautiful woman!

    My favorite quote from her was when someone said – “Because so many people was saved your husband (Jim Elliott) didn’t die in vain. She replied: “Even if no one was saved, my husband didn’t die in vain because he did the will of God.”

  3. Michelle Ule

     /  August 22, 2014

    Lovely to have an autographed copy, Jim. I met her once at a luncheon and made a total fool of myself. No surprises there. She doesn’t know how often her words bucked me up when I didn’t want to be bucked.. “Me feeling sorry for myself, Elisabeth? I wouldn’t dream of it!” 🙂


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