In this issue ~~
Picture this: You've set a goal. You're pursuing a dream. You're taking steps toward it. You feel like you're working hard, you're trying things, and yet, nothing seems to work. You can't understand why.
While fear is a big deterrent for many people, fear is usually pretty "in your face." When you're scared, you're very aware of it. There's something else – something you may think of as harmless – that may be what's really getting in your way.
If I had to name the biggest hidden impediment to getting ahead, I would have to say it's self-pity. You're working toward a goal and you hit an obstacle. You feel deflated. You say to yourself, "Why bother?" And you give up, or make half-hearted, ineffectual attempts to keep going.
The trap of self-pity is that it feels sooooooooo good. Who hasn't enjoyed throwing a good pity party at one time or another? But self-pity can really drag you down. And what's worse, it can be addictive, and it can become your default emotion when things get tough. For a time, it soothes a wounded ego, but ultimately, it's going to keep you stuck and frustrated. It can prevent you from expressing your precious creativity and sharing it with the world.
Self-pity is running rampant these days. We're living in a time and place that sets a very high bar. We look around and rate ourselves by the images we see on TV. By comparison, we're too old, too fat, have too many wrinkles, don't have a gorgeous partner who adores us, have no talent, and aren't fabulously wealthy and successful.
The media tends to portray a glossed-over version of reality. It seems like everybody looks great, has a fabulous relationship, and is amazingly successful. And it comes to them effortlessly. It's very easy to start feeling sorry for yourself for how inadequate you feel compared to all these people – even though what we're seeing of them is not real.
Here are a few antidotes for self-pity:
You may have to get tough with yourself. Once self-pity settles over you, it's very hard to shake. Start by becoming aware of when you fall into self-pity. Catch yourself in the act. Then, stop what you're doing. Notice your thought process – very often, it's taken on a life of its own. By a deliberate act, stop the thought process. If you need to, say "Stop!" out loud. Then, consciously redirect your thoughts down another path. This can be tough at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will get.
And count your blessings. We get a lot of support these days to focus on what's wrong with us and where we fall short (by whose estimate??). Instead, be grateful for all you've got. Acknowledge yourself when you do take a step forward. And forgive yourself when you don't get the result you want.
Self-pity will still come up at times, but by practicing these techniques, you'll see it for what it is and send it on its way before you sink too deep. Pity parties can be fun, but how about aiming for a *real* party celebrating all the successes you'll have when self-pity is no longer part of your daily fare!
In the coming week, every time you find yourself falling into self-pity, say to yourself (out loud or silently), "Stop!" Say it again if necessary. Then, consciously choose to redirect your thoughts to something positive, like, "I'm going to make this work. I know I can do it" Then, take an action to support that new direction.
"Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality."
"Rebellion against your handicaps gets you nowhere. Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world - making the most of one's best."
"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable."
"This is interesting to me: On one hand you have just feeling happy: I don't mean, like, laughing and giddy, but feeling light, like you're free. And on the other hand, you have murky discomfort, whiny self-pity. And I personally know the steps to get to both."
When asked, "Has exile helped you? Have you found strength in it?":
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