I have been thinking about how we react when things get tough and have narrowed it down to “self pity” and “self care”.
Self pity seeks endless validation for our negative feelings and looks to hand over responsibility for our pain to anyone who will take it. It is closely tied to martyrdom – the ‘poor me’ school of thought and feeling… you know where everyone has our worst interests at heart, and we are helpless victims, exploited and abused. I recognise in myself times I have responded in this way. The features I recognise here are “blame” and looking at my own heart springs from envy, anger or in some instances even hatred. I recognise the “self Pity” cues in statements beginning with “I never….” “It’s always ….” or “it’s not fair….”.
I have learned that I am also able to respond in another way – with “self care”. I pay attention to my own needs and take positive steps to look after myself emotionally and physically when times are tough. I am responsible for myself. I am responsible for my happiness – not any other.
I have subscribed in my past to the myth that my prince will come. You know – the one from the fairy tales. So I feel sorry for myself and my situation and lo and behold, my prince will come and save me from it!!!! Wat I have realised increasingly is that it is indeed possible that our “prince” is inside ourself. Our prince is our resourcefulness and creativity and we are more than capable of rescuing ourself.
So many of the doorways into growing that life flings at us are difficult to face bravely; ( loss of a job and income, divorce, even a terrible day where everything seems to go wrong – and sometimes our natural response when we are hit like that IS self pity. But ask yourself – what does self pity get you? Validation, attention, proof someone at least cares? Does it change anything?
What if “self pity” is a negative loop that keeps you in a cycle of sadness and unhappiness? it is an automatic response, but then we strengthen and reinforce it because it is an old habit.
What if we replace self pity with self care? We begin by knowing that we have the capacity to make ourself feel better. It is important to recognise you may not be able to change circumstances or how any other person reacts but you can take action to do something that strengthens you. For example, begin a blog to write honestly about your feelings, book an appointment to do something nice for yourself, buy in a favourite series and spend time doing something pleasurable even in the midst of chaos. What do I feel? What do I need? What will make me feel better right now?