Friday, February 12, 2010

Do You Wallow?

What's the most dangerous emotion in the world?





Nah, none of those. It's self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself makes you sorry, and it can ruin your life.

You know, one of the common complaints certain white folks level at black people who discuss race is that they are tired of our whining. We're just complainers and malingerers, who want to blame others for our failures. They tell us that given the amazing opportunities available in America, anybody who doesn't succeed is a slacker. Those sentiments are often echoed by new immigrants to this country.

Personally, I find those thoughts ridiculous. After all, the people who complain the most in America are white folks. I can't turn on the tv without some of them marching because "their America" is changing and they don't think it's right. They complain about lost jobs, lost pensions, "reverse racism" and anything else that prevents them from being rich and happy. I think it's the ultimate hypocrisy that such rampant complainers love to tell others to suck it up. Just laughable.

But, that doesn't mean that self-pity isn't real in the black community and in every other community. It is real, and it's a problem.

Self pity saps your will to improve your situation. As someone who has wallowed in self-pity at times, I can now look back and see those moments as a complete waste of my life. Honestly, what good does it do to feel sorrow for yourself?

Folks like to point out that the work ethic of young black people today leaves much to be desired. I've been known to argue against this common complaint, but there is truth in it. However, the comment it true for everybody today, not just young black folks. Americans have become soft and privileged. We don't just want the good things in life, we expect them as our divine right.

Thus, when things don't go our way, when adversity hits us, too many of us just collapse. We view suffering and misfortune as a betrayal, and many of us use that betrayal as an opportunity to wallow in self-pity.

My wife and I talk about this all the time. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to wallow;she often refuses to see how she can improve her circumstances and just wants to feel bad.

As a man whose parents had very little patience for complaining, this can cause some tension in our home. I can't see why she seems to seek out opportunities to feel sorry for herself, and it makes it hard for me to generate any sympathy. Yet, I'm slowly starting to realize that she's only reacting the way she's been conditioned to react. For her to behave differently would take an acknowledgement of her conditioning, and a concerted attempt at breaking that training.

Most people never get to that point, and I don't know if my wife will.

I'm hoping she does, and I want the same thing for everybody who wallows.



Tit for Tat said...

Good Post

Reminds me of a saying my mentor had.

"The world is 50% shit, 50% sugar, you choose where you put your focus. But just remember if you stand in shit long enough it dries around you"

Sometimes we all can be neck deep.

Anonymous said...


Shanti is honoring black men for Valentine. Come show her some love.


LisaMJ said...

As usual, you are pretty much right and this is coming from a serial complainer. The thing with your wife might also be a little bit gender based too. Women have much more of a tendency to discuss what is bothering them, upsets them etc and men tend to be much more in "fix-it" mode. So sometimes women just want to vent and men just want to make it all better. There is merit in both but sometimes bitching doesn't help nor does it make you feel better, and sometimes there are situations that an individual just cannot "fix" or really change the situation; of course I guess that is where the changing your attitude thing comes in but that is not always so easily done.

Raving Black Lunatic