I think it happens to us all. Things don’t go like we think they should…and we get caught up in the spiraling self pity bubble.
It can be triggered by almost anything, and once it starts, it can escalate so quickly into a full blown pity party before you even notice. Self doubt, feeling sorry for yourself, everyone is against you, nothing goes right, traffic sucks, you get a flat tire, you trip over something, your alarm doesn’t go off, insomnia strikes, you spill your coffee, someone ate the last cookie…doesn’t matter what starts it…pretty soon you are that bratty little 4 year old who is throwing a tantrum just because you can.
Man, have I been there. And even while I know the tantrum is an overreaction – I’m so invested by this point that I won’t stop just on principle. I’m stubborn that way – ask my husband!
This week has kind of been this way. It’s the perfect storm, all the planets align, if it could go wrong, it probably will…and go!
- busy schedule at work – check!
- fighting a cold off – check!
- mortgage payment due – check!
- snow and ice – check!
- tired – check!
- dog collar breaks – check!
- tire goes flat – check!
- hormones kick in for extra drama – check!
- -4 degrees in the morning – check!
- drop your phone on carpet and crack the screen – check!
One or two of those things, and you can probably deal, right? But get hit with a bunch of them…or all of them…in the span of a couple of days and a full blown pity party strikes.
I start to question everything, I start justifying old habits and behaviors, I lash out at people, I burst into tears, I curse the unfairness of it all. I stomp around and slam doors. I say things I know I shouldn’t. All because I feel sorry for myself. Because obviously, it’s all my fault. It’s all the result of my poor choices, and I’m getting exactly what I deserve for doing what I did. I should have done this…I could have done that…I shouldn’t have done it, but I did it anyway. My emotional side is vindicated…proven correct…totally justified in my reactions and the resulting consequences. I got what I deserved.
Sigh…but my brain and my heart know better. Sure, these things happened…but it’s not worth the response I’ve given it. It’s just stuff that happened – I didn’t do anything to cause it all to happen – and I need to not make it into more than it is – my reaction needs to be less than or equal to the action. I need to exercise self control, and make rational choices. Pretty much – I need to get over myself.
But it’s hard…it’s much easier to feel sorry for yourself, and pout like a 4 year old who was told (again) he couldn’t have a cookie. I mean, we all want that cookie, even if we know it fell into the dirt – because it’s a COOKIE with magical powers to make the world a better place! It’s not rational to expect the cookie to have magical powers, and it’s not rational to eat a cookie that has fallen in the dirt, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of the self-pity bubble.
As I’ve been wallowing around trying to find my way back to sanity, I know that it’s not nearly as bad as all that. I know I didn’t cause all this “stuff” to happen. I’m not being punished for some deed. It’s just life, and how I respond to adversity builds character and strength. I can be a bratty 4 year old and feel sorry for myself and hope that someone will come along and show me some compassion, wipe my tears, dust off my knees, and hand me a new cookie – or I can be an adult and pick up the cookie, toss it in the trash, and grab myself a new one.
I still don’t have the answer to “why me???” in my pity party – but I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I am learning to trust God’s plan for me, even when I don’t understand it. I’m trying to have an open mind to the life lesson that every challenge presents – trust, patience, resilience, paying attention to what really matters, being kind, being thankful for blessings in disguise, and finding joy in the midst of turmoil.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’m going to go find myself another cookie!