I’m currently watching an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as I sit down to write this post on self-pity – how appropriate. No one feels sorrier for himself than Larry David does.
Over the past week I feel as if I’ve been slipping in and out of this predicament. It goes hand-in-hand with having patience – life won’t be amazing immediately, and that is no reason to claim ‘woe is me.’ Each day contains struggles new and old, but the important thing here is to emotion-check your relative situation. My reality is that no matter what my issue of concern may be at any given moment…there will ALWAYS be someone who is worse off.
Regardless of this fact, we still find plenty of ways to feel bad for ourselves. We even like to pass off blame or responsibility of root causes of these sentiments onto others. If we take a long hard gaze inward, I daresay we may find that is rarely the case. I tend to create my own misery, wrought out of my own (mis)perceptions.
Edward Norton’s expressive monologue from “The 25th Hour.” Powerful scene from a powerful movie.
I think it’s part of the disease concept, too – the mindbrain is constantly looking for any reason at all to pick up that first drink. Again, easy to fall prey to that default instinct of drinking to drown the sorrows of life. I find that when I fall into self-pitying moods, they tend to have a spiral effect and can actually end up suffocating my drive and ambition, much the same way depression can. So what can I do about this quandary?
I recently watched a great TED Talk on the happiness vs. productivity ratio, and what we can do internally to change the way we manage our positive and negative emotions. The presenter mentioned the practice of emotion-checking and adjusting, when you notice yourself under stress or bad feels. Such as, spending a moment each day to think of three things you have gratitude for, in that moment. After a month of repeating this daily affirmation, the brain begins to automatically adjust and starts recognizing patterns of gratitude and positivity in the present, subconsciously.
The whole presentation is worth watching, but cue up to about 11:06 for the example mentioned. Credit to A. Demosthenous for sharing this with me.
Staying grateful = staying sober. It can be extremely difficult to “force” oneself into feeling gratitude; I feel like I’m cheapening my emotions if I “fake it to make it.” But really the worse thing to do is lay around all distraught and mopey. At the end of the day, I’ve gotta be thankful that I made it through sober, and that I’m not still out there in the clutches of the bottle. Because those that are still sick and suffering but unwilling to yield deserve pity more than I do – at least I’ve made it this far, and I’m still here.
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It’s never too late.