On many occasions I have been the guest of honor at my own pity party. Have you? Kids can be the best at this: the dramatic crossing of the arms and shouting, “It's just not fair!!!”, stomping around and sulking. (Okay, I admit, I'm 33 years old and every once in a while I put on this show.) I remember my 5th grade teacher, Mr Millar, responding when one of us in his class said that. His response was, “Life isn't fair. Get used to it.” I remember that statement so well, and being somewhat afraid. Up until then, at 9 years old life had been pretty great for me and to hear a grown up say that life wasn't fair? What in the heck was I in for?
But let's face it, sometimes life isn't fair. Curve balls come at us all the time. People right and left are losing their jobs and their homes, that's enough to throw yourself a pity party soiree. I think many times feeling sorry for ourselves is reasonable and necessary, but only temporarily. I have found that if I don't own the feelings and emotions of feeling sorry for myself when something really bad happens and just put on the “I'm fine” face, the feelings fester like last weeks garbage. And we all know how that smells. I advise taking some time to embrace and process it. Don't feel guilty or ashamed and by all means don't judge yourself. Feel bad and move on as best you can.
Sometimes it's much easier said than done. For me, when I realize I'm feeling sorry for myself and it's gone on long enough I tell myself to get an attitude adjustment. I think I am echoing my mother's words repeated to me when I was about 13 or so. But at any rate, it works for me. If it doesn't I have to stop and ask myself:
What is this serving me?
Is there someone I need to talk to about this (ie did someone hurt my feelings)?
How much longer do I need to dwell on this?
Is this really what I'm upset about, or is it something else?
The first question is for me the most powerful: What is this serving me? What good is this doing for me and possibly others? Almost every time the answer is nothing, so knowing that allows me to move on.
I'll give you an example of how feeling sorry for myself ended up affecting my whole life. In my previous marriage there were times (lengthy ones) where I was completely unhappy. I felt so sorry for myself and helpless that I ended up carrying around an attitude that others saw. My ex husband told me that certain people thought I didn't like them, which really wasn't the case. My attitude was so pitiful that my “poor me” feelings on the inside came out on the outside. I'm grateful for the learning experience.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com from bankgrrl