"I can't do it."
"Writing is hard for me."
"I didn't have a vacation after grad school and I'm just so tired."
The first was spoken by my daughter, in reference to a gymnastics skill. The coach got mad at her, which bummed her out, and she didn't understand why the coach was so dismissive.
The second, also spoken by my daughter, to explain why she was in a pool of tears in response to having to write something about dolphins.
The third by an adult who shall remain nameless, but the important piece to know here is that the missed vacation referenced was eleven years ago.
What do all these phrases have in common? They are uttered to explain why someone has shut down or given up. They are also phrases that are impossible to work with. They are explanations for why a person is mired in a hole of pity party.
To my daughter, in regards to the first, I acknowledged that it was too bad that the coach was rude to her, but I got why the coach said what she did. And I pointed out: "I think what you really mean here is, 'I still need spotting on that skill.'" She nodded.
In regards to the second, after about an hour of struggling and whining and crying and my own feeling like screaming and giving up myself, we determined that what she really meant was "I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the information and I don't know how to break it down or where to start."
And in regards to the third, well, that person needs to pull himself out of that particular pity party and identify what he wants now: "I really need a break, and what would give me a break is...."
Can you feel the difference? In the first example, there is nothing to work with. It's just hard, stupid, sad, whatever. When you figure out what you are really trying to say here, then you have something to work with. Break down the information. Get spotted. Take a vacation. What do you need? What is overwhelming? What is standing in your way?
The problem with this is that we are used to complaining. It feels so good to feel so bad. And it requires energy and intention to identify what needs to change, and then guess what? You have to take steps to change it. That is what it means to live an engaged life - you have to put your life in gear and move forward. It's so much safer to just say, "I'm stuck in neutral, poor me."
Where are you short changing yourself by sitting in neutral in a hole of pity? Notice ways in which you put on the breaks and get stuck, and ask yourself what you really mean. Then you will know how to move forward.
It is overwhelming, scary, and sometimes lonely. But you can do it. So much energy is freed up when you stop stalling and take that first tentative step, which is simply to identify what the problem is in the present moment. Only then can you move forward.
Blessings on your path! You can do it.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Engaged Living: Pulling Yourself Out of the Pity Party Hole
Written by Clea Danaan
Clea Danaan grew up in the Pacific Northwest; she now lives in Colorado. she is the author of five books relating to nature-centered spirituality and natural family living. She writes about nature mysticism, chickens, homeschooling, permaculture, and more. Her books have been published in more than six countries and translated into several languages, including French and German.