On Self-Pity

He: I have a hardness imprinted in my personality from my upbringing and hard lessons of life, and I have little or no empathy for egoistic behavior and self pity.

Me:   I HAVE empathy for egoistic behavior (because there is often a great battle within), but that doesn’t mean I’m going to judge them for it nor would it be in my best interest to stick around that person. I know that people suffer from all sorts of wounds I don’t know about. And I don’t judge them for it.

I think self-pity is what is missing from this world. Is pitying others or being pitied by others somehow more noble than self-pity?  I think not. Who in this world decided self-pity was so awful?  It’s when one lingers too long in self-pity WITHOUT DOING SOMETHING ABOUT OUR SITUATION, that is the problem.

When we don’t start taking our pain seriously, we can’t heal from it at all. If we don’t love our mistakes, we won’t grow from them.

I have a problem with detractors of my process. My process is my process and I’m not asking ANYONE to do what I do in dealing with traumatic injury.

It occurs to me many people have NO idea how to be compassionate with other people’s trauma.  And that’s really okay. I don’t blame them. Most people are insensitive to another person’s trauma. I get it. If you want to start learning about the trauma that starts in childhood that deadens us to empathy for our own and other people’s trauma as adults, I dare you to go read Alice Miller’s The Drama of The Gifted Child.  That’s a great place to start.

I was at the bookstore yesterday and I picked up a book called The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein, M.D. What we do with our trauma can actually BE a path to enlightenment.

“Western psychology teaches that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it while many drawn to Eastern practices see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both, Epstein argues, fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life and can be used as a lever for growth and an ever deeper understanding of change. When we regard trauma with this perspective, understanding that suffering is universal and without logic, our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it.

Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. The Buddha’s spiritual journey can be read as an expression of primitive agony grounded in childhood trauma. Yet the Buddha’s story is only one of many in The Trauma of Everyday Life. Here, Epstein looks to his own experience, that of his patients, and of the many fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist. They are alike only in that they share in trauma, large and small, as all of us do. Epstein finds throughout that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both our minds’ own capacity and to the suffering of others. It makes us more human, caring, and wise. It can be our greatest teacher, our freedom itself, and it is available to all of us.”

I’m on a divergent path, and I don’t expect anyone is going to understand. I don’t want to be hardened. As Pema Chodron urges, I am going to stay with the ‘soft spot’. As Jack Kornfield encourages, I’m going to work with these difficult times and hold myself and my pain with tenderness and compassion.

You may choose to do as you will.


I’ll be turning on my comments again after I publish this post, but I’ll be moderating them for the time being.  Thanks for your patience with me.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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3 Responses to On Self-Pity

  1. bert0001 says:

    … sometimes seeing the enraged person as a 2 year old child unable to express his frustration, melts my heart … (but not so often)

    • Casey says:

      It reminds me of this quote:
      “I have no words to describe my loneliness, my sadness, or my anger.

      I have no words to speak my need for exchange, understanding, recognition.

      So I criticize, I insult, or I strike.

      Or have my fix, abuse alcohol, or get depressed.

      Violence, expressed within or without, results from a lack of vocabulary; it is the expression of a frustration that has no words to express it.

      And there are good reasons for that; most of us have not acquired a vocabulary for our inner life. We never learned to describe accurately what we are feeling and what needs we had. Since childhood, however, we have learned a host of words. We can talk about history, geography, mathematics, science, or literature; we can describe computer technology or sporting technique and hold forth on the economy or the law. But the words for life within…when did we learn them? As we grew up, we became alienated from our feelings and needs in an attempt to listen to those of our mother or father, brothers and sisters, schoolteachers, et al. “Do what mommy says…Do what is expected of you”

      ~ Thomas D’Ansembourg, Being Genuine: Stop Being Nice, Start Being Real (based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication process).

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