7 Steps to Help Those with P.L.O.M’s (Poor Little Old Me) in the Mouth

It’s an acronym I learnt this week from All is Grace, Brennan Manning’s memoirs. He was describing his time in a rehab facility for his alcoholism when he received feedback from his fellow alcoholics in a peer review worksheet.


  1. Watching TV, playing cards or games, etc.
  2. Preoccupied with everything but treatment
  3. Using self-pity (PLOM-poor little old me)
  4. Getting romantically involved, flirting, etc.
  5. Preoccupied and talking about physical problems
  6. People pleasing
  7. Using humour/joking to keep from showing true feelings
  8. Staying alone (isolating)

Wow, that’s quite a list isn’t it!

Spot yourself there?

Ok, let’s move on to P.L.O.M’s. Poor Little Old Me’s

They want to be noticed and to be loved. The focus must be on them. They wear a jacket covered in war medals, all self awarded. Medals for this abuse, that person, and of course a comparison here and there to add some extra colour.

How do you love the P.L.O.M’s though?

  1. Acknowledge the cross they carry. Yes, life stinks at times. People have had terrible things happen to them, and they may have also done terrible things themselves. Shame, guilt and anger all make for a toxic brain soup to live in. Acknowledge it because it is real for them.
  2. Don’t play the cross comparison game. There are no winners when we have an attitude of ‘My cross is bigger than your cross’. It’s foolishness. Only God knows the degree of suffering etc. that a person carries and can make an unbiased judgement on who wins the trophy of the biggest cross, not that one actually exists!
  3. Bear the cross with them not for them. For the most part people don’t want your pity, they want your presence. They want to know that you know them and are not put off by the pus in their lives.
  4. Look to what the cross they are carrying is inviting them to do. We all carry a cross to a destination of finality – death. What is Spirit (Holy) inviting them to put to death at this moment? Could it be a need for justice, control, revenge, feelings of hatred etc.
  5. Invite them to die. At times we need to name that which we are holding on to so tightly and allow it to die. To let it go can be painful like the loss of a old friend, but some friends may well be holding you back and are better gone.
  6. Embrace the resurrection. Here is an invitation to a new life without ‘P.L.O.M’ moans and groans. A life focused outwardly, to giving to others and not having a narcissistic mirrored pool to drown yourself in.
  7. Recognise there is a cycle to this. Ever noticed that Spiritual Formation is not a straight line, that there is always some thing else that Jesus rests his finger on? We go though the process again, Jesus reveals something in us, he asks to speak truth into it, we invite him to, and he heals the heart and mind. The saddest thing about P.L.O.M’s is that they are so often stuck in their thinking that it takes considerable grace by others to stick with them. People get tired of listening to the pity party and move on, giving the P.L.O.M. yet another medal of victimhood to line the chest.

Is this you?

Come on, we all are P.L.O.M’s to some degree. Let’s be honest!


 There is no point to continually being a P.L.O.M.

 Get the P.L.O.M out of your mouth.

 Question to consider

  • Do you have a P.L.O.M. in your mouth?
  • What do you need to let go of?


Barry Pearman

Image: benjaminasmith Creative Commons Flickr

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