“Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all the while I am being carried across the sky by beautiful clouds.”
~Ojibway Indian saying

Years and years ago a very good friend of mine helped me enormously. I was talking with him, I suppose endlessly, about a situation I was facing. I was complaining, I suppose also endlessly, about how hard it was and how confused, lost, and hurting I was. My friend had listened to me discuss this same subject many times before, and I guess he realized that I wasn’t moving through the issue. I was stuck. So he turned to me calmly and directly, and said, “Get off your pity-pot.”

I stared at my friend, shocked and devastated. I felt betrayed by someone who had lent me a supportive ear for quite some time. And I wasn’t done complaining. I wasn’t done feeling sorry for myself. But my friend’s seemingly harsh words stopped me in my tracks. In retrospect, I probably had every right to talk my situation through and complain about my suffering, because it was hard and it was painful, but his statement actually stopped my complaining and self-pity long enough for me to realize that maybe, just maybe, my self-pity wasn’t helping me. Maybe it was keeping me stuck and making my situation worse.

I can have a pity-pot impulse, I must admit. And I’ve witnessed this impulse in others as well. There are times when all of us feel completely justified in our wailings about how tough life is and how hard we have it. And perhaps those wailings are justified and perhaps they are helpful, for a little while, but I have also witnessed how self-pity holds us down and back, and how much we soar when we let it go. Changing our perspective often helps us move closer to seeing beautiful clouds that carry us across the sky.

I am eternally grateful to my friend for his harsh words.

Where are you stuck in self-pity? How can you see the clouds that are carrying you across the sky? When you hear yourself complaining and bemoaning life as it is, give yourself five more minutes of pity-pot, then get off and find another way to view the situation, or at least something else to talk about.
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