Why don’t things ever go my way? Why do all these bad things happen to me? Why can’t I ever get a break? These questions can be a good indicator that a person is wallowing in self-pity, when the actual answers to the questions might be the key to the solution.
Of course, sometimes we actually do get a series of bad breaks and it looks like the universe is conspiring against us, but how we react to these life lessons defines our outlook. And, if we’re alcoholics in recovery, it defines how well we’re using the tools that keep us sober. Take any ten recovering alcoholics and give them the same challenges. Then watch who the complainers are and who instead gets busy matching calamity with serenity, assessing the situation honestly, and then taking indicated action while staying out of the results.
Wallowing in self-pityis a symptom of self-centeredness, the primary enemy of the recovering alcoholic. Let’s examine the questions at the top of the page:
- Why don’t things ever go my way?—Most alcoholics find that they have been too insistent on having the world conform to their script, and the frustration when it doesn’t usually leads them to the next drink. An important part of recovery is the recognition that life presents us with people and circumstances with no regard for our expectations; accepting life on life’s terms and moving forward with right action and according to principal will, in the long run, bring us vastly better outcomes than insisting on wrestling the world to submit to our will.
- Why do all these bad things happen to me?—Most of the time, upon guided introspection, the recovering alcoholic will find that most of his or her problems were self-inflicted. When it seems like life is ganging up on us, an honest appraisal of our part in circumstances is a good way to begin moving toward a solution. On the other hand, when we get a flat tire in the rain on the way to an important appointment, these aren’t our fault, but wallowing in self-pity certainly doesn’t help us get to the appointment.
- Why can’t I ever get a break?—If you’re in recovery, you got your break the day you found freedom from alcohol and/or drugs. Remembering this can be the key to finding gratitude, which can’t co-exist with self-pity.
Simply put, wallowing in self-pity is useless, counterproductive, wasteful, and dangerous. Recognize its signs—negativity, a feeling of victimhood, envy, and self-justification are a few—and try to move on. Talk to someone you trust and use the tools of recovery.