Lesson 66: Feeling sorry for yourself is not a strategy

Published 3:19 pm Thursday, March 25, 2010

Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.

Helen Keller

If anyone ever had a right to feel sorry for herself, it was Helen Keller.

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Born in rural Alabama in 1880, Helen lost both her sight and hearing when she was barely a year old. For the rest of her life, she had neither of the most basic senses that most of us take for granted.

The first few years of her life were, as you might expect, a blur of confusing smells, tastes, and touch sensations, none of which made any sense to her. It wasnt until age seven, when her family hired 22-year-old Anne Sullivan to be her teacher, that the little girls world began to come in to some kind of order.

Sullivan taught her young student how to communicate through sign language and later through speech. Obviously, nothing came easy to Helen, yet her lifes achievements were remarkable. She earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors from Radcliffe College. She learned to read Greek, French, German, and Latin, and wrote 12 books of her own.

Helen Keller became world-famous as a speaker, author, and activist all while living in a world with none of the technologies and tolerant attitudes we enjoy today.

So would you like to tell the rest of the class whats holding you back?

Lifes tough, and it can get worse. You sometimes get stuck with a lousy hand of cards. Bad stuff happens to good people, and vice versa. Nobodys going to give you anything. In short, life is not fair.

But its your life, and its the only one youve got. You cant wallow in self-pity, no matter how bad you have it. Youve got to get up and do what needs to be done. Whats more, no one is going to tell you what needs to be done youre going to have to figure it out for yourself.

If you find yourself in a bad place, and you absolutely cant go on, go ahead and spend some time feeling sorry for yourself. But forgive my harshness here be quick about it. Take a few days. Then get up, dust yourself off, and move on. You can do it!

Excerpted from “The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School” by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.