This is a guest post by Esha.
For the past three years or so, I’ve been more or less in a complaining rut. Hosting a pity party where I am the only attendee and spending ample time snotting into my handkerchief with my woes dripping into cheap Styrofoam cups. Did I mention the dismal disco ball flashing blue and green in the center of it all?
My pity party was (and continues to be whenever it is held) a celebration of all the things gone wrong in my life. I didn’t know my passion, I was pursuing a course that I wasn’t really interested in, everyone else could find the motivation to study but I dealt with resistance day after day after day, my relationships weren’t that good and I didn’t finish the books I started.
The consequences of attending the pity party:
Diagnosed with Unspiritual Stillness Syndrome a.k.a inertia.
I sat quietly in the corner (unusual for a girl who is the first to say hi or hug people).
I stopped enjoying the company of people (“I am in the midst of my pity party and your dialogue is interrupting my misery!!”).
I stopped taking initiative and believing that opportunities could be found or created.
I disliked myself.
None of this happened outrightly or was even visible. For the people around me, I was more or less the same. But I knew what went on inside my head. It wasn’t the golden space it seemed from the outside. Weeds were thriving, poison was seeping in, and the pity party had just started.
I’ll take the risk of hazarding a guess: don’t most people feel this way? Some might do most of the time, others only sometimes, yet others all of the time. We all have a pity party going on in our heads: a list of things that separates us from the ‘lucky’ and the ‘blessed’ ones eternally. The complaints might be imperfections in own personality, a circumstance not of our wishes, or another person who invites us to their pity party (misery loves company sure but 2 is too much, by golly!)
But guess what? A very important part of self-care is to stop attending these pity parties.
The stories being told in our pity parties are told by the Fear Voice. The sane-rational-realistic-mature-practical-but-really-deathly-scared-of-everything voice. It makes a strong case for believing in it and we accept all of its argument because we hear those arguments from the people around us. Hence, they must be right, right?
But the truth is most of the time our Fear Voice is simply an over-anxious (okay over-over-anxious) parent who wants no harm to befall us. It believes that by throwing these pity parties and keeping us focused on the ‘wrongs’ we’ll have less chances of being hurt. The Fear Voice simply seeks to protect us.
All of this clearly implies something: we can stop believing in the Fear Voice any time. Once you realize all of these fear stories are a result of generations old survival instincts, you can choose to stop attending the pity party. You can choose to no longer invest time and energy, and consequently lose people and dreams as a result of attending these parties all the time.
You can leave the house, put down the cup. You can get up and walk away.
“Alright, alright, I hear you. We can. But, how?”
The how is the most exciting part, my friends.
Nothing gets you out of the self-pitying rut than action. Pity parties become a habit and the best way to break the habit is to start acting the opposite of what your Fear Voice tells you to (within the limits of what’s mortally safe for you and those around you).
I know, I know. At this time the protestation ‘I don’t feel like it’ arises. But the important thing to remember is taking action will actually change how you feel.
The most common tendency among pity-partiers is to not take action. This increases our fear as we then start to breed all these untruthful ideas about things, events, and people.
The important thing is to generate some momentum by taking action and letting that action propel you out of your inertia. The desired emotions will show up eventually. But, your actions must not go on hold simply because you ‘don’t feel like it.’
This my most common pitfall and I am only just learning to recognize it and to change it. Modern psychology backs the statement that taking action leads to positive feeling states. Acting how you want to feel is a 1000% times better than waiting for the feeling to show up, or worse yet to try to think yourself into the feeling (which is crazy impossible because I have tried).
Not only does taking action helps you to feel better, it also increases you chances of something amazeballs happening. You lit a fire, you sparked a miracle. The Universe puts on its co-creation conspiracy act right in that moment.
In my neck of the woods, after a week of snarky self-criticism and pity-partying, I put on my proactivity pants along with my Just Get it Done shoes, and used the intensity of that underground feeling of hopelessness to mail different companies/ websites and people inquiring about available writing work. I shamelessly (or boldly—your pick), sent in my resume and a link to my blog (which I was previously shy about sharing) and told them that I was willing to write great stuff for them at the moment. I also sent in a poetry submission for one of my favorite magazines and I am helluuuvaaa excited about it! *fingers crossed + candles blown*
And I felt darn good after shooting off those emails and submission. I no longer felt pathetic or restless or self-critical. I had channeled that energy into constructive action. I had done something about it. I had RSVPed ‘no’ to my Fear Voice.
Nothing happen unless you make it happen. Self-care, birthday bashes, writing opportunities. Even pity parties and the experience of your dreams. Which will you choose?
Esha Rana is a 20 year-old storyteller and undergrad who’s majoring in computer science. When not reading up on Machine Learning, she can be found writing poetry, listening to Hozier, or pondering over the current state of human civilization. She’s currently crafting her voice at www.versesandpieces.wordpress.
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