How to Get Out of Pity Parties & Avoid Apathy
Ready for the real talk I promised? I came home early to prepare for a show at Pete’s Candy Store, only to discover that my dog had become violently sick in absolutely every inch of my apartment. I will spare you all of the horrid details, only to say that I spent 45 minutes I had planned for my pre-show preparations cleaning up and spraying absolutely everything with lysol. Post-show, I spent another 30 minutes running loads of laundry and using clorox... and I mean a LOT of clorox. Normally, something like this would have completely ruined my ability to function, let alone do an entire performance. But this time, I was able to stay relatively calm, make decisions quickly and use the breathing technique I practice every day. I was able to anchor myself into a more peaceful place and attend to what was in front of me - despite the mess. This doesn’t mean I felt “stress free”, but because I navigated it in an orderly fashion, I have expanded my capacity to function under duress. This skill has proved more vital to me than almost anything else in dealing with messes both literal and figurative. In today’s blog, we are going to talk about the later and how you can become better at dealing with those not so literal sh*t-shows.
I am someone who pays attention to themes and lessons. I pay attention to the interactions I have with other people and the themes that emerge are almost always connected. I truly believe that G-d, the Universe, Spirit (whatever you call it) sends us signs, lessons and messages that can enhance the quality of our lives - if we are alert and pay attention. Here’s the trick: you get to use any situation to either throw a pity party OR grow. Most of the time, these lessons or “growth opportunities” come in the form of a horrible circumstance, misunderstanding, or even a sick dog. The absolute worst thing we can do at these times is throw a pity party or turn to feelings of apathy. We need to take a deep breath and look for the message. Sometimes, YOU are the sign someone else needs to keep going. Sometimes it’s YOU that needs to speak encouragement into someone else’s heart. You won’t be able to be that person if you are mired in your own muck.
This past week the theme that emerged in conversation with others was ironically on apathy and how to stop throwing pity parties in the face of situations that don’t appear to be improving. In so many conversations with other people, I was hearing an apathetic sentiment arise about things related to work and life. Here is a hard, but important truth:
Apathy is poison that will spread to your entire life.
Is this statement too bold for you? It’s the truth. Feeling apathetic at work? It’ll roll over into your workouts. Feeling like your health doesn’t matter? You’ll start cutting corners at work. Checking out when you are around your partner? They are going to start checking out with you (which will create a whole other set of problems). Apathy is a sneaky bastard that says things like, “this will never pay off, why are you trying so hard?” and “you’ll never have the perfect body, just watch Netflix instead of going to the gym.” Apathy invites us to become a less powerful version of ourselves, and it does so in a silky, seductive, comforting voice. Sometimes, it’s most powerful arguments are even logical. You actually might be undervalued at your company or in your family. Things might not be improving. Your big project might never work. You may never have the “perfect” body. Are we depressed yet? Don’t worry, there’s good news.
Apathy cannot survive a growth mindset.
As an employee, you WILL go through periods (if not entire seasons) where you feel underappreciated and undervalued. You will go through periods where you feel your partner doesn’t appreciate you (and vice versa) and you will have moments where you doubt your sanity and capacity for dealing with life. What can help sustain you through these times is staying committed to your own growth, and the most practical way of doing this is getting very clear on what is in your control and what is not. A common dictum when faced with unpleasant situations is to either change it, or accept it. I also believe we have two options during times like this - we can either go through difficulty and learn nothing, or we can look for the hidden treasure in it. Either way we are still in pain, so why not get something from it? Oftentimes, disguised in unpleasant situations is a priceless gift of something that toughens your mindset and expands your ability to thrive during hardships. Life is training us every day, but it’s up to us to see the lesson and use it to train our mind and spirit. If you are already in pain, please don’t waste it. Use it to grow resilience, determination and problem-solving “muscles.” You might not be grateful for the struggle, but you’ll be happy you learned the lesson.
If you still feel stuck, here are my favorite questions for weathering a pity party:
If this situation had a lesson for me, what would it be?
Can I use this situation to my advantage?
How can I use this obstacle to strengthen my own problem-solving skills?
What skills do I need to better navigate this situation?
If you are feeling undervalued or not supported during this season, please know that I see you and I’m here to encourage you, always.
In love and light,