Feeling sorry for yourself can be as addictive as any drug. It is natural to feel sad when bad things happen to you and it is proper to have some empathy for the suffering of others, but when self-pity becomes your dominant state of mind, you could find yourself in a downward spiral into despondency. You miss the joy around you. You miss the happiness that is there for you to partake. And, you miss being you to the fullest.
For me, the solution is in two parts. The first is to mourn what you have to mourn. The second is to quickly follow that with inspiration from those who have gone through more. If you are a Christian, you know there plenty of stories of saints that have endured much and rose above their suffering. (There are similar stories in other traditions.)
Recently, I discovered Maurice Tillet. Tillet was a professional wrestler, but that wasn’t his first career choice. He wanted to be a lawyer. Born in 1903 to French parents in Russia, Maurice’s cherub-like face earned him the nickname “The Angel”. He was a normal teenager until, at age 17, he was diagnosed with acromegaly. Acromegaly is a hormonal condition that results in body parts growing disproportionately large. It prevented him from studying law. Instead, he joined the navy. In one of his trips, someone convinced him to become a wrestler.
As a wrestler his unusual looks were an asset. His nickname was “The French Angel” and as ferocious as he may have been in the ring, outside he was a kind and compassionate person. He was a top draw and even become a world champion inspiring imitators. There is even a rumour that he inspired the look of Shrek. (Take a look at the photo below.)
For me, what I find inspiring about Maurice Tillet is that he is the embodiment of taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. I would write more, but I feel like making some lemonade.