self-pity

Tis the Season to be Jolly?

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It’s supposed to be the season of jolliness, apparently, yet those who work in emergency services and at hospitals know it’s also the season for increased accidents, suicides and depression. So why is that?

The Christmas season is such a study in contrast — rich/poor, jolly/miserable, giving/getting, gratitude/selfishness. It’s supposed to be the season for happy family get-togethers, coffee that reunites sons and fathers, and skating on open rinks with your beautiful, lovely children. Do you ever feel like American culture is stuck in a time warp? This cartoon hits the nail right on the head (click for larger version)!

Now, I never grew up with Christmas traditions, so I’m in the unique position to see them for what they are — mostly silliness! But I think so many people have bought into them so thoroughly that when some part of their life doesn’t match up, they are severely disappointed. Tis no longer the season for jolliness –

Tis the season for self-pity!

When you feel even mildly disappointed or discouraged, catch yourself before you sink into a full-blown self-pity party. Stay happy anyway. So what if your family won’t be together for Christmas. Or maybe seeing your family stresses you out — stay happy anyway. Do something you enjoy, whether it’s part of the traditional model or not. Don’t feel like you have to go skating with your tots just because that’s the traditional thing to do (you don’t even have to have kids, but that’s a whole other blog post)! You don’t have to make a 10-course meal. You don’t have to buy presents for everyone you know, or send out a hundred Christmas cards if you don’t want to. It’s 2011 — you don’t have to do what the baby boomers did! When you compare yourself to others, or to the idealistic traditional model, and feel like you come up short, you can get upset and slip into self-pity pretty easily.

Grumpy people are actually entrenched in self-pity, and grumpy people don’t attract happy situations. So don’t be grumpy! You don’t have to be a pollyanna, just be yourself and stick your tongue out at some of those silly traditions! And of course, the best way to beat self-pity is with gratitude. Christmas would benefit from more thankfulness!

Related posts: Peace on Earth | Cheering Up | Happy Birthday Jesus

Cheering Up

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I was going to write this blog on Monday, but then the events of Tuesday (the bird day) needed blogging first, so this one waited ’til now.

I was in a seriously crappy mood on Monday. I don’t know what got into me. It wasn’t the common Monday-blues — since I work for myself now, I don’t get bummed out on Mondays. Come to think of it, I was a shift-worker before, so Mondays didn’t mean anything to me then either! Anyhow, this was a seriously nose-out-of-joint, stay-clear-if-you-want-to-keep-all-your-body-parts kind of mood. I don’t get these very often, maybe 3 times a year, which means I only have, um, one more occasion this year. Poor Darren!

I don’t just say “poor Darren” to be funny, I really mean it. I was pretty close to the edge that day, and he had to endure it. Not fun. I think I will be making up for it for a while — not because he makes me feel like I have to, just because I want to. I generally treat him really well, but man, it was ugly on Monday.

I eventually told him the main thing that was weighing on my mind, only after saying “I need to say something. I don’t want to hear any come-back, reply, comment, or anything. In fact, it would be best if you just listened to it — let me say it all — and then you were quiet for an hour or so. Not a peep. Think about what you want to say back, if anything, and in an hour or so, we can talk. Can you do that?” Crazy, eh? I had a medium-serious thing to say (I won’t reveal it here, sorry), but on a normal day, I would have just sat down on the couch next to him and said it. And I wasn’t trying to add drama, I just wanted to tell him without getting into a huge discussion. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so, but I sure could have been nicer.

So about half way into Darren’s Hour of Silence, I realized it was self-pity that I was all gummed up with. Like the stickiest of mud, it had me completely mired. I didn’t recognize it at first, perhaps because I get it so rarely, or because it was so strong. It felt more like anger/depression. I am actually glad, now, that I experienced it, because I need to know what it feels like and how strong its pull is, in order to help others better. I think I can have more compassion for someone who struggles with this.

Luckily, a very good friend of mine called and reminded me that we were doing training that night, and I needed to prepare for it. I found the material and read it over, highlighted the most important parts, and started to feel much better. Want to guess what the subject was? Sudden Death. We were training our Victim Support Unit volunteers on how to help people dealing with a sudden death (I’ve been a VSU volunteer for a while, and now I help with training). Later, at the end of the training session, we did a “round table” to talk about how we feel, if any of the areas were difficult for us, or if any parts really struck home. I shared how I had been in such a terrible mood earlier, but now I felt much better. I meant that it was good to be with friends, discussing serious things and helping people. But everybody teased me “sudden death just cheered you right up, did it?” Ha ha! Well, it did. I was able to remember that I have it so good. No one I love has died suddenly a long time. I have nothing to complain about.

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P.P. (Post Post): If you have experienced a sudden loss of someone you love, and you need help, please call your nearest Victim Support Unit or find out if your city has a support group for people like you. You don’t have to go through this pain and grief alone. Let someone help you, and listen to you... You are loved.

P.P.P.: I am starting a “Personal Growth Coaching” (similar to life coaching) service soon, so if you’d like to talk to me, please email me (teresa {at} madphilosopher.ca) and I’ll be in touch to set up a free session with you.