Day #16

Isaiah 26:3-4

At a certain point in my life, everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Friends failed me. Family stresses came. Health problems appeared. Money ran out. All my attempts to improve circumstances came to nothing. The odds stacked up against me, pushing me toward my favorite, old coping technique of self-pity. 

Problem was, it was a deeply flawed technique. Self-pity turns inward in an attempt to coddle emotions, often partnering with blaming, resentment, and fatalism. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms” type stuff. 

Self-compassion has been identified as a means of improving mood and well-being. How does it compare to self-pity? The differences is this: Self-compassion leaves room for me to also feel compassion for others. I’m not the center of the universe, I’m one of many suffering people who needs a break, and in self-compassion I choose to be a channel of God’s mercy, giving myself, and others, that break. But self-pity focuses entirely on my suffering to the exclusion of others’ suffering. 

The universal reality of human suffering provides a pathway out of self-pity. When we notice the people around us in similar circumstances to our own, we cry out to God to pity us all. And He does. Oh, how He does. As we sense the compassion of God toward us, we learn to trust Him who gives us strength for the day and peace for our pain. 

Scan your mind for ways you haven’t reflected God’s mercy to yourself. Have you beat up on yourself, taken blame that didn’t belong to you, or worked beyond your strength? Have you stuffed painful emotions, trying to be tough? Just now, choose to give yourself a break. It’s probably not God who’s being hard on you; it’s probably you. So let go of your need to be your own worst taskmaster. Let God’s compassion flow down into your soul till it overflows to the others around you. 

Dear Compassionate One, make us clear channels of your kindness. Help us to stop being our own worst enemy. Let us not lapse into self-pity, blame, and resentment, but let us learn how to accept compassion. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4

For mental health counseling, coaching, and other resources, you can visit abide.network.

54 thoughts on “Day #16

  1. Karen

    Self-compassion, what a great new concept for me! I need to explore this idea with God in my devotions w Him. Self-pity is selfish but self-compassion is healthy and healing. It is easy to do self-pity but self-compassion seems like a learned art. Speaking of healthy and healing, God really impressed me recently w His forgiveness for my sins. God kept nipping at my heals, saying; ‘I have forgiven you, why are you still living like I have not?!’. It was so freeing to grasp His forgiveness. His all encompassing love has made me hungry for a more deeper relationship w Him. I have learned that beating myself up for past sins is not God’s way of living. We are to live unabashedly joyously grinning from ear to ear as we walk this life, soaking in God’s forgiveness. Like I tell my children, if you knew how much God loved you, your socks would go flying off! ( A silly way to put it, I know) May you all realize how unwaveringly and phenomenally deeply God loves you. May you find God’s love irresistible and satan’s lies intolerable.

    Reply
  2. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    An area where I need to learn how to not beat myself up is in my thinking. And at the sametime God is helping me through this too. I know I’m His!!! I really appreciate learning the difference between self-compassion and self-pity.
    So thankful!
    Peace

    Reply
  3. Valerie

    I am learning (slowly) to not think of myself as or say I am “dumb” when I do something that maybe wasn’t the best. I also am learning to not beat myself up over not accomplishing everything I want according to my high expectations. Sometimes I feel like I never learn, but I just have to trust that God is helping me with those insecurities.

    Reply
  4. Jane

    I would like to not “beat up on myself” regarding how my inadequacies seem to make other people’s lives less desirable/even to the point of being more miserable– if I could just do or be better, they would be happier/more productive/experience a higher level of being well-adjusted/better Christians/etc. Ugh, what a heavy burden I’ve chosen to carry by believing the lie that my best is not good enough. The truth is that only God is “good enough” to fix people’s lives and make them better. Lord, help me, You are our only hope of change! Please, change all of us to bring glory & honor to You!

    Reply
      1. Jane

        That’s a wonderful thought! Thanks so much for all that you are doing — Jesus Meds., S.S. on Sabbath, and sharing last Friday night with the ARISE students. May God provide the energy you need to do that which He’s called you to do!

        Reply
  5. Daniel Parsons

    Post an area in which you would like to learn, or maybe have learned, how not to beat up on yourself. 

    Perfectionism is one of my character defects. Recently I typed up a morning devotion that a group of us in a recovery group use. I noticed I had made a typo and left a ‘y’ off the word ready so my sentence ends with read instead of the word I meant.

    I corrected the error in the word document and sent it off to my fellow group members. I kept the printed off version I had and decided to not print out a new copy. The small error is a reminder to me that I am not perfect, I don’t have to be perfect & I have learned to be perfectly imperfect and a human being that is having a spiritual experience each day.

    Reply
    1. Sandy

      That’s awesome. I struggle there as well especially when it comes to house cleaning. Unused to spend all weekend cleaning to the point that I’d turn down time with friends and family because I have to clean. That’s a long time ago now and while I still struggle there and every where else it’s no way near where it sued to be that at times I let myself be deliberately messy. The cleaning bit borders on OCD as well. Thanks for sharing 😉🙏🏽

      Reply
      1. Jennifer Schwirzer

        My friend keeps her house a little messy to help other people feel better about their houses 🙂 I don’t do that, really, I’m too much of a neat freak, but I try to remember that houses are for people and for love and everything, including cleanliness, should serve that end.

        Reply
        1. Sandy

          😉 I have a messy spouse so it also keeps my tension and freaking out manageable. It’s there but not at a 10 & bordering on heart attack 👊🏾🙏🏽

          Reply
  6. Sarah

    I have done all of the above…beat up on myself, taken blame that wasn’t mine, worked beyond my strength, stuffed painful emotions. I never realized just how hard I’ve been on myself. Oh, how I need God’s help to stop being my own worst enemy! Specifically, I need to learn to be more compassionate for myself in these three areas. The first is regarding how I treat myself when I don’t fulfill my expectations for myself, especially related to academic requirements. I think part of my fear of people may be related to this, because I project my own reaction to not reaching perfection onto my teachers and forget they are much more compassionate and understanding than I am when I make a mistake or don’t reach a goal in a specific time frame. Second, I need to learn not just to stuff emotions, especially of anxiety or feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, but to express them in healthy ways, both to God (easy) and to others (really, really hard) who can help me. The third is to recognize when I’m wearing out and give myself a break before I reach meltdown from overstimulation and exhaustion, and directly related to that, to be merciful on myself when I do have a meltdown because I didn’t recognize the signs that I was wearing out. I need to retrain the negative mental self-talk habit about how worthless I am and realize that I’m still learning in this area. I recently found out that I’m very likely on the Autism Spectrum (undiagnosed still), and realizing there’s a reason I wear out more quickly than others due to sensory issues has made a huge difference in this last area, but I’m still learning.

    Reply
  7. Amy

    This distinction between self-pity and self-compassion is powerful. I have been so hard on myself for so long. God is showing me that when I keep pushing myself I end up spreading the negativity to others. I want to change my mindset, set realistic expectations and accept my own limitations and imperfections.

    Reply
  8. Shirley Mann

    I am still learning not to get too upset when I make mistakes. I have always been a perfectionist and I still want everything I do to be perfect. However, I know that I will not always do everything just right and I am finally getting used to making mistakes and shrugging them off. I’m not talking about sins here, just things like not spelling or pronouncing a word correctly!

    Reply
  9. Sharon

    Wow! This is the complete opposite of what I have always been taught, even by the counselors and therapists I have worked with. I have a lot to learn, and a lot to unlearn! I don’t have the words to express how freeing the concept of self-compassion is. I keep listening to the meditation again and again, trying to wrap my mind around the truth and just soak it in.

    Reply
  10. Cheryl

    Apparently, I have been having an extended pity party. I’ve run out of compassion for those who have hurt me and sometimes even those I don’t know. I don’t see ways that I have self compassion either. I’ve been told more than once that I’m too hard on myself but I can’t seem to see that or how to be compassionate with myself.

    I know I’m too hard on others. I guess my expectations for myself and others are unrealistic.

    A few days ago when the Jesus meditation was on Matthew 11:28-29 the part about being gentle and lowly in heart, kind of jumped out at me. I want to be like that. I’ve labored and been heavy laden. I’m not gentle and lowly in heart with myself or others.

    The only thing that came to my mind to do was to keep my mouth shut. I have a quick, sharp tongue. As Matthew 15:18 says “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart and they defile a man.”

    So, until God changes my heart of stone, I need to keep my thoughts focused on Him and my mouth shut.

    I pray this helps me be more gentle with myself and others.

    As Thumper’s mother said in the movie Bambi, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” (maybe not exact quote:))

    Now, I have to get my thoughts lined up with that too and think nice, kind, gentle thoughts.

    Reply
  11. Kristina

    I am learning to treat myself like I would treat a friend I was trying to encourage. Instead of being so hard on myself, giving myself grace. Also understanding how loving, merciful and long suffering God is, helps me to give myself a break. When self pity comes I am learning to give it to God and receive the peace and comfort He wants to give me and focus my mind Him.

    Reply
  12. Nicky Dube

    Self-compassion instead of self -pity is sick a wonderful replacement to think about. One area where I have stopped beating myself up is my weight. The funny thing is that the time that I was beating myself up, I was at my healthy weight. It wasn’t until I had children and was able to recognize the wonders of the female body and learn so much about Christ in the process that I was able to accept my body, flaws and all no matter what size. It has been an amazing journey.

    Reply
  13. Mel

    One area I want to learn to be more compassionate on myself is when I feel I haven’t done enough for others or I was too selfish. I replay these thoughts on my mind often…and it probably stems from my insecurity of wanting to try to please people and not have them dislike me. I’m growing and learning but it’s so easy to spiral and start worrying too much about what I say or do instead of trusting that Jesus is working in me everyday when I ask Him to

    Reply
  14. cree

    The concept of self-compassion has recently been introduced to me. From that, I realized I had it wrong all along— having compassion is not JUST for others! At first, self-compassion seemed “selfish” to me. Then I learned that it can’t be selfish if I am not my own—-i can’t claim it’s for my OWN good because I am God’s & not of myself. So now I see it as stewardship for who Jesus created and died for. Not merely because we are His property, but because of the value of man that was paid by His blood.

    My prayer is that He will help me learn to not let my circumstances affect my self-esteem. 🙏🏽

    Reply
  15. Donna

    I’ve been thinking about this topic for hours, because it haunts me.
    So last night my youngest son (36) told me he is an alcoholic. I pretty much suspected that, but was glad to know that he acknowledged it because maybe he’ll deal with it now. He’d like to go to an in-treatment facility, but that’s not likely with COVID. Plus he has to work. I shared this with my husband about 20 minutes ago. He started sobbing … “Where did we go wrong? They (2 boys) weren’t brought up like this”. I determined that “this time” I wasn’t going to do any mom-bashing … I’ve done that for years.
    Self-compassion is badly needed in my life, and I think much of the bashing that we do comes from comparing ourselves to someone else … “Her kids are better behaved and get better grades” … “She’s thinner than I am” … “He makes more money than I do” … “He got a better grade on the test; I must be stupid” … “She handles her money better than I do; I always run out” ………a never-ending script of defeat.
    My own self-inflicted beating reached a boiling point about a year ago when I realized I couldn’t save my husband from a massive trauma … couldn’t protect him …. and believing that his not being “redeemed” must be my fault. I’m still working on this “lie”.
    Being in “ministry” made it doubly hard because I’m suppose to be an “example”, and my children were supposed to be perfectly behaved. Bring out the stick … pile on the guilt and self-pity.
    Recently, I knew that I was desperate for God’s grace. I wasn’t seeing it in my church, so I decided to go to a book already in my library, What’s So Amazing About Grace, by Philip Yancey. It helped me. I love this quote from the book, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more … And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less … Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love” p.70. I like that, don’t you?
    I need to memorize more Scripture promises; however, because I’ve spend a lot of years in “recovery”, I’ve also relied on affirmations to help with the negative self-talk. I admit I don’t do this enough to even make a dent; but when I do use them they help. Here are a few simple ones that have helped me:
    “I’m doing the best that I can.”
    “I did the best that I could at the time.”
    “I have the right to be happy” (to change my mind, to grieve, to feel whatever it is that I feel, to be uniquely me, to forgive others and myself, to give and receive love…….)
    “I will never please everyone and that’s okay.”
    “I am most beautiful when I am myself.”
    “I am good enough just the way I am.”
    “Taking care of yourself is the most unselfish thing you can do” … from a Christian trauma book … this one has given me courage on numerous occasions.

    My clock says I’m starting a new day. Maybe I’ll put up a few post-it notes to remind me that I need to be compassionate with myself … and if that helps me be more compassionate with others, then everyone wins.

    Reply
    1. Donna

      I want to add that my son who now believes he’s an alcoholic, started drinking in order to sleep. He has severe insomnia, and tried numerous over-the-counter aids for sleeping. Beer came out on top. He hates it. He wants to quit. He feels stuck, and knows he’s also using it to cope. It’s been about a year-and-a-half. He wants to be married someday, and I plan to tell him that no woman is going to want an alcoholic for a life’s partner. I think that will really “hit” him because there is a love in his life.
      It’s now 3:30 a.m., and I should be asleep. Insomnia for me too.

      Reply
  16. Megan

    I have used self-pity as a coping tool, mostly in moments where I have felt lonely and disconnected. I also used to interpret any incidents of emotional invalidation, gaslighting, and lack of compassion from others as signals that I didn’t deserve to have any self-compassion. Since everyone suffers, I often reasoned that my suffering was not important, ‘not as bad as some’, and therefore not worthy of any compassion. I often feel unable to ask for help. Then I remember that self-pity is selfish. Enter the vicious shame cycle! I want to learn how to stop involuntary, hurtful thoughts. Even if I start the day well, spending time in the Word (and without an ounce of self-pity, to begin with), these thoughts later barge in, uninvited. I usually try to counter them by thinking afterwards “that’s not true!”, but they still come. There must be a way to reprogram.

    Reply
  17. Sabrina

    I’ve struggled with being hard on myself when it comes to my body image; in the past, I have been so rigid about eating a certain way and exercising that I would beat myself up when I didn’t. In the past year, I’ve learned a lot about being gentle with myself, but it’s still a work in progress.

    I could also really relate to the devotional when it mentioned stuffing emotions. Recently, I was having a hard time, and I kept telling myself that I was silly for crying over the situation. A friend helped me recognize that it wasn’t wrong to feel those emotions and that I needed to be easier on myself.

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Body image can be a real challenge for some of us; and even more so if there’s an eating disorder or body dysmorphia present. I hope you’re able to get additional support for this if you need it. Being isolated with COVID is causing many to have “food issues”. Absolutely, be gentle with yourself.
      Did you see my post just above yours? There are some affirmations there that might fit your situation. I’m thinking about your crying and feeling that it’s silly … your friend was correct. This was an affirmation that would apply: “I have the right to feel whatever it is that I feel.”
      If we keep practicing better self talk, and self-compassion, we’re bound to start feeling better about ourselves and those around us.

      Reply
  18. Sandy

    Self pity was my best friend alongside depression. Self compassion is a very new concept and way to think of what I’ve been doing since working on my depression and self hatred. I like it 😁 I practice self acceptance, repeating God’s promises of His love, of His wondrous workmanship when He made me, that I am beautiful of a darker complexion kissed by the sun. These and other words of affirmation I’ll repeat to myself when dark self pitying thoughts come in when life gets stressful or the scale goes up a notch. Thanks Jennifer, this is one of my fav (they are are btw 😉)

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Isn’t it just a wonderous thought that we don’t have to garner self-hate … and that we can have self-love because Jesus loves us just as we are. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Sandy

        Printing this quote giving you full credit of course and share with my women’s group tomorrow. 🥲 that resonated with me deeply because I care about my physical health and it connected to my soul- an aha moment 🤯🙏🏽👊🏾

        Reply
  19. Ann

    Once again you are speaking directly to me. Thank you for the encouragement to let go of self pity since it does no good anyway. I like the idea that being compassionate to myself makes me compassionate to others. This reminds me of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. I appreciate the rich information you are giving.

    Reply
  20. Simone

    Your message is so clear. Although no one that knows me ever thought of me as abusing myself…I call that self pity but perhaps I would over help others as a smoke screen. I was brought up in a home that if you were good to yourself you are selfish. Yes I know… it is crazy.

    Reply
    1. Sandy

      Crazy yes but it’s distorting the Bible about doing good to others which some how leaves ourselves out and makes it selfish. I feel you 👊🏾🙏🏽

      Reply
  21. Nowelle

    I don’t know how to stop beating myself up. Responsibility is a big thing for me. So, when I mess up, I don’t let myself off the hook. I did it, I own it, but then what?
    I even take it further to take on other people’s mistakes as my responsibility. Like somehow I did or did not do something that could have prevented their mistake, or a bad thing from happening to them. This is possibly my number one source of anxiety. I always feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure that the people in my life are completely taken care of in every way…
    Except, I’m not God. He is teaching me right now, and for the last year, that I don’t have to carry anyone’s burden, not even my own. He is the only one strong enough for that, and He wants to carry them! I want to learn, instead, how to help myself, and others to lay our burdens at Jesus’ feet = self-compassion.

    Reply
  22. Tara

    “Have you…taken blame that didn’t belong to you…?” ALL. THE. TIME. I tend to do this with a zillion little things. God HAS given me victory over beating myself up and taking blame that didn’t belong to me in one specific big thing. It took stepping out of the situation and seeking counseling for a few years, but He gave me the strength to overcome my self-blaming in that situation so I KNOW He can give me the same strength to do so with the “little” things.

    Reply
  23. Monica

    This was helpful to me. Self-compassion, as well as compassion for others, is a very balanced approach. It makes a lot of sense, but I could never put it in simple words like that. It’s comforting, giving permission to have compassion on ourselves, while not neglecting those around us.

    Reply
  24. Vanessa

    When I get down on myself, I go deep and hard. Man, this day is for me. Thank you for the reminder to be gentle on myself just as Christ is or else I’ll beat myself until there’s nothing left. When I say the wrong thing or miss an opportunity to do the right thing, I’m reminded that His mercies are new every morning and I don’t have to keep myself down.

    Reply
  25. Ericka

    well, since coming out of the pit of legalism and perfectionism, ive definitely learned not to beat myself up over every single little thing i think i “should” be doing that i cant/havent been able to… that its okay to realize our limitations and not do all the things we are sometimes told we “should”.

    Reply

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