06.06 – When the mind tempts us to play the victim game
“People always trample over me; life always gives me a raw deal; things always go wrong with me.” When we thus feel sorry for ourselves, we need to identify such feelings for what they are: temptations.
The Bhagavad-gita (06.06) warns that the mind is our worst enemy. Numerous and insidious are the ways in which it begets misery. One such perversely tempting way is the victim game of self-pity. Making us feel sorry for ourselves is the mind’s way to tempt us into playing a miserable game in which we see ourselves as victims.
When things go wrong, we should certainly do what we can to set them right. For that, we frequently need the moral and practical support of others, which in turn necessitates that we tell them how we have been wronged. That requires us to think about those wrongs.
However, the mind deceptively reshapes this requirement into a temptation for self-centeredness. If the mind urges us to constantly talk about how great and powerful and happy we are, we quickly recognize that it is tempting us towards self-centeredness. But when the mind urges us to constantly talk about how small and powerless and miserable we are, we rarely recognize that to be a temptation.
Why? Because we usually think of temptations as offering pleasure, not pain.
However, in principle, anything that keeps us away from Krishna is a temptation. As self-pity keeps us obsessed with thoughts of ourselves instead of Krishna, it is a temptation.
By recognizing self-pity for what it is – a camouflaged temptation, we can save ourselves from languishing in misery. And by choosing to fix our thoughts on Krishna, we can tap into his power, wisdom and grace, thereby enabling us to make the best out of life.