A Life Vest in a Sea of Self-pity

Ok, as Re-booters, we spend a certain amount of time thinking about our lives, the situations we find ourselves in, and sussing out patterns that may evidence themselves as sources of personal distress. All well and good. However, this accomplishes little unless we move beyond such contemplation and step boldly into the realm of doing something about our unhappiness.

Too often, people lapse into a place where all they do is dwell upon what is wrong in their lives, neglecting the next step which is to identify remedies. The angst then feeds on itself—remember, anything we exercise grows stronger—and we then allow it–this unhappy episode or annoying person–to characterize who we are. No, no, and no! Hear ye, hear ye, all Re-booters, you are more than your losses, mistakes, or aggravations. Do not let such things define you, no matter how much suffering these people or events create.

A related mistake people regularly make is to engage in the erroneous and magical belief that somebody will rescue them from their misery. Sorry, Charlie, but the solution resides within yourself. You have to be the one to do this, to identify a way out, to learn from this, and to move beyond it. The motivation to recover also lies within; the wellspring of healing action is internal. As an example, ask anyone who’s recovered from an addiction and they’ll tell you that it couldn’t have happened until they made the decision to tackle this demon. All the support in the world is useless without that personal impetus.

Since this is my blog and my soapbox, I will subject myself to the examination table as I continue to grapple with my own difficulties. Faced with painful loss, I’ve been tempted to retreat to a position where I could spend all my time licking my wounds and shaking my fist at the heavens, but I recognize that such behavior gets me nowhere. In fact, it only makes things worse. Next, I’ve spent a goodly amount of energy privately declaring that this loss serves as confirmation of a lifetime of disappointment, and that Fate has decreed that I got the short end of the stick. Poor me. I’m the sad, little match girl. So sad, she had so much potential. I’m good at this, right?

I bet you can think of people who have had something hard happen to them (divorce, job loss, betrayal, major injury, etc) and from that point on, they defined themselves through the prism of that experience: “I was wronged,” they telegraph to the world. “Interact with me knowing that I am not 100% because of this bad event.” Alas, they are reframing their entire life to accommodate this suffering instead of overcoming it. They are lowering expectations for themselves. “I can’t do as well anymore because I’m sad.” Really? Get over it!

Everyone has suffered—this is part of the deal of being here. Why would you ever define yourself and your future by your lowest point?

The myopia that results from such narrow focus on our suffering and frustration makes it nearly impossible to conquer these conditions. We drown in an eddy of self-pity when a life preserver is within reach, at all times, but we must be the ones to take hold of it.

So here goes:

  1. What can I do to turn this situation around?
  2. How can I do this?
  3. Where do I begin?
  4. Who can help me?*

The answers will not magically solve all our problems, but they will lift us out of this passive, poor-me state and get us to re-focus on our strengths and opportunities. For me, when I refocus on what I can do instead of what I’ve lost, I immediately begin to feel better, more hopeful about my life. Sure, I’m disappointed that there’s no magic wand, but I’m also stubborn enough to be determined that I’m stronger than whatever hardship has been thrown my way. I refuse to let “them” set the terms, so I cling to my life vest and doggie paddle for shore. It ain’t pretty, but I ain’t drowning, either.

There is never a point in life when you have no resources to help you because you always have yourself. But you have to be the one to take action, not just navel gaze and moan sadly. This is why I’m such a huge proponent of baby steps. Most likely, your challenge won’t be solved in a day, but each step you take moves you that much closer to the goal. Don’t succumb to the juvenile temptation of wah wah wah’ing your way through life. Cry me a river ‘cause everyone’s too busy dealing with their own shit to worry much about yours. Sorry to be so blunt, but there it is.

Ok, so paddle on out there and grab that vest. It’s yours for the taking.

*taken from Psychic Self-Destruction and How to Reverse It by Robert R. Leichtman, MD

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One Response to “A Life Vest in a Sea of Self-pity”

  1. grasshopper Says:

    yes! you go!!! that’s the spirit!

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