Summary: Do you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself? Are you thin-skinned or overly sensitive? If you sometimes slip into the trap of self-pity and feel sorry for yourself, you may have set yourself up. These biblical insights will help you escape self-pity.

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Do You Set Yourself Up to Get Hurt?

Don't Feel Sorry for Yourself — Escape the Trap of Self-Pity

(c) 2001, 2014 Doug Britton, LMFT (Permission granted to copy for personal use)


Introduction: It's common to feel sorry for yourself

This study is adapted from Healing Life's Hurts: God's Solutions When Others Wound You. Feel free to print it out, and then answer the questions at the end.

If you sometimes feel sorry for yourself or experience self-pity, you aren't alone. Most of us deal with self-pity from time to time. Look at two examples in the Bible. As you can see, in both cases their self-pity led to sin.

  • When God did not look on Cain's offering with favor, Cain felt sorry for himself and gave in to anger (Genesis 4:4-7).
  • Esau, full of self-pity, sold his birthright when hungry. He did what many of us do: He greatly exaggerated his problems and sought a quick and easy solution without considering the consequences (Genesis 25:29-32).

You may set yourself up to feel hurt

We usually blame others for our hurt feelings. Yet we often set ourselves up to experience hurts, rejection, or burnout. This happens at work, school, home, church, or wherever we are. Jesus taught us a different way to look at things—to first focus on ourselves and how we contributed to a problem:

Take the plank out of your own eye so you can remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

It can be hard to clearly see changes you should make

Some people are so focused on their hurts that they almost become unteachable." They see "proof" for their point of view and are not willing to look at things from a new perspective. You too may resist seeing how you set yourself up. For example:
  • You may be exhausted from doing much, much more than God would want you to do. You may be unwilling to see that you have developed a "martyr's complex."
  • You may have put so much energy into a situation that you don't want to look at the possibility that you approached it incorrectly.
  • You may be so aware of others' faults that you are blinded to your own.
  • You may feel a compulsive "need" to do things that cause you distress.

Don't go to an extreme and blame yourself for everything

Although you should look at how you contribute to problems, don't go to an extreme. For example, if your spouse physically abuses you, don't think you deserve it.

Personal application

Ask yourself if you set yourself up in any of the following ways:

Do you "ask for" rejection or persecution? For example, do you act withdrawn, angry or obnoxious?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you ignore others? For example, do feel sorry for yourself because no one writes to you, yet you don't write letters yourself?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you offer to do too much and then say, "Poor me"?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you say "yes" to  requests and then think others take advantage of you?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you say insensitive or insulting things?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you taunt, attack, or ridicule others?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you complain a lot, then wonder why other people avoid you?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you seem aloof (even though you are just shy)?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you complain when you could do something positive instead?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Do you attract abusive men or women?

  • How I set myself up:
  • Changes I should make:

Click below for more information

•  Healing Life's Hurts: God's Solutions When Others Wound You

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Bible translation

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible verses are from the New International Version (1984 edition).