Time is our most valuable asset and mothers everywhere are feeling like that asset has been stolen from them.
I get it. This fall is not what anyone had envisioned. Some of your personal goals and plans have been thrown out the window.
I coach a lot of parents about this. How they didn't sign up for this and how unfair this feels.
You know what they are wallowing in Self-Pity.
I know this because I find myself occasionally dipping my toe into the Self-Pity Pond. This week alone I have dipped my toe into the self-pity pond at least three times a day while helping my fifth grader in ELearning. (Yes I am another member of society who has come to realize that teaches should be paid at least a million dollars!)
But you know what Self-Pity gets me every time...actions and results that I don't like. Actions that keep stuck.
It is totally ok to feel sad about disappointments. That is normal and you need not process those feelings all the way through.
However, problems arise when we get stuck in self-pity and it becomes our automatic go-to in any difficult situation. Becoming stuck in this mindset stops us from feeling empowered, finding solutions, and achieving what we want in the long term.
Regularly feeling sorry for yourself over a long period of time can also lead to depression. And it can even lead to physical health issues like coronary heart disease. Even more alarming; an article written in The Independent states that self-pity can be as bad for your heart as smoking 20 cigarettes a day!
Contrary to much you might read about self-pity, it’s not an emotion in itself; it’s a state of mind. It happens when you focus too much on your own problems and believe you are a victim of circumstance.
This mental focus leads you to feel emotions like sadness, anxiety, hurt, and helplessness.
The good news is, there are a number of ways to change this debilitating state of mind. The sooner you nip it in the bud and get started the easier you can let go of self-pity for good.
Strategies to Get Out of Self-Pity
When something doesn’t go the way you want it to, instead of trying to grin and bear it, allow yourself to feel sad. We are meant to feel a whole range of different emotions. Allow yourself to really feel what you are feeling. Be compassionate with yourself just as you would with a dear friend or loved one. If you don't process what you are really feeling it will come back and bite you in the but later!
2. Be Aware YOU are causing the pain.
There is a turning point between a healthy feeling of hurt and sadness and moving onto self- pitying. And because it feels good, to begin with, it’s easy to miss the turnaround. Your circumstance never causes you pain, it is always YOUR thinking. There are always options to your thoughts. Once you become aware of the pain you are creating for yourself with your thoughts. you can make firm decision to start changing your thinking.
3. Refuse to Be a Victim
In order for you to be a victim, you are making something or someone a villain. Which means you think that something outside of you needs to change to make you feel better. This is just how your brain is telling you the story....how you change this is by retelling the story where you are the hero. That is where you will gain back your power. You can't control the circumstance but you can always control how you show up.
4. Find the Hidden Thoughts that are keeping you stuck
As humans, we have 60,000 thoughts a day. Just because you think a thought doesn't make it true. Here are some questions that have helped me see how my current circumstances can actually be beneficial to me:
How can I make myself a priority so I have more to give others?
How can the future be better because of this?
What do I love about my life?
What am I grateful for?
How is this perfect?
How is this happening for me not against me?
How can I make choices that benefit me and everyone around me at the same time?
How can I make what is happening fun?
5. Change your Focus
It is very hard for our brains to stay in self-pity when we start noticing the good. Begin each day by writing down 5 to 10 things you are grateful for. Make them different things each day. From the simple things like the drinking water coming out of your tap to the bigger things like having technology where a live teacher comes on and teaches your child. Get in the practice of doing this daily. As you practice the attitude of gratitude you change your automatic default thinking from negative to positive.
6. Make a date with Self-Pity
Put a timer on self-pity and sadness. Maybe it’s 15 min. or maybe it’s 5 min per day for a week. The key is to really process these emotions during the time allotted and understand what you are creating with those feelings and then when the time is up, you let the painful thoughts and feelings go.
7. Find evidence of how you are Lying to Yourself
Another strategy is challenging your brain to come up with 3 ways your painful thought is not true. For example, your initial thought is “People in my life are not dependable.” What are 3 ways people in your life ARE dependable? Push your brain to challenge those limiting beliefs that aren’t serving you.
Life is not meant to be easy all the time, because that’s not why we are here. As humans, we are here to experience variety, which includes pleasure and problems. And within each unwanted issue is the opportunity to grow and create a better life.
Give yourself the support and look for solutions to create the life experiences you deserve. From this standpoint, your problems will no longer have the hold on you they once had.
This is where a coach can be so valuable because sometimes getting to those self-pitying thoughts can be tough and we need added support to get unstuck.