Having a Good Wallow

In this last week of the no-time-to-think Lab-Rat experiment (we’ll be back to normal next week), I’m changing things up just slightly. Everyone will do everything as normal, over the weekend I’ll add a post covering my thoughts on the past four weeks and choose the best of the Someday Lessons. The winner of the best Lesson will receive a copy of Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness (my current favourite book).

Often when we allow ourselves to do nothing, our thoughts turn negative and we start focusing on all the things that are wrong and could go wrong in our lives. At that point the doing nothing turns into a pity party. Now I’m all for a good wallow – it can be cathartic as well as productive – I’ve had some of my best ideas come from trying to shake myself out of a wallow.

In December 2006, I wrote about Cancelling the Pity Party because I’d been sick for eight weeks straight and I was tired of feeling yucky and blue. Let’s find out this week how the Lab-Rats deal with self pity.

  1. When worries and stress start to get you down, do you indulge them or shut them off?
  2. How do you break yourself out of a funk?
  3. What triggers a pity party in you?

Someday Lessons:

  • Now that you know a contest is happening, I’m sure I’ll see lots of great lessons this week. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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10 thoughts on “Having a Good Wallow

  1. steph says:

    Oh, good questions. When I get worried or stressed about something, I’m often suddenly barraged by similar feelings to do with other things in my life. Whatever the current worry or stress is triggers an avalanche of all the other ones too and I become overwhelmed. It’s hard to break out of. So I indulge it for a while, but it’s really a horrible feeling.

    Breaking myself out of a funk is tough. Often listening to music I love or reading a good book will help, but sometimes it only makes thing worse or more depressing because it reminds me my life is no longer filled with passion or I’m not successful yet at fulfilling dreams. I suppose I just try to think differently, or I talk with friends. Or write it out on my blog.

    Seeing other people passionately leading fulfilling lives often triggers a pity party in me. I am genuinely happy for them and would never begrudge them of their success – it is after all a result of their choices and resilience and tenacity and hard work – but it serves as a reminder that I have not changed the way I’ve wanted. Sometimes it makes me feel downright trapped. Whenever I feel unhappy it’s usually to do with being dissatisfied with myself. Or with lack of money to do things I dream of.

    Then I remember that life doesn’t just happen; I have to make it happen. For a while I go through the frustration of being stuck, of feeling as though I’ll never change, of fostering cynicism. Eventually, though, I get sick of myself and surge forward to try and make something new happen. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.

    Someday Lesson: If I want things to change now, I can’t leave the work for some day. I have to stop running away from what I fear might be too hard. I have to stop running away from fear of failure. I have to stop running away from fear.

    steph´s last blog post..What I Know For Sure

  2. leona says:

    When worries and stress start to get you down, do you indulge them or shut them off?

    I do both! I try and listen long enough to get the message behind the message. Out of control thoughts or feelings are being driven by an underlying “unmet” need (eg safety, autonomy, contribution, connection etc etc). I also listen to how I hold this in my body…that is what does my body know about this situation that is more than what my mind knows. I do this through a process called Focusing. This way I can get in touch with the particular guidance my body is trying to give me – albeit through a kind of “tragic expression” of negative, obsessive or blue kinds of thinking.

    How do you break yourself out of a funk? Once I have a better feel for what’s really going on inside I try and see the situation more objectively. I will try and make a statement that is more like what a camera might see…this helps put things in perspective. Then I get in touch with the needs I am trying to have in my life…and explore other strategies for meeting these needs. I also do some exercise, catch up with friends, only listen to upbeat music, write a gratitude list, do some volunteer work and lie in the sun for 20 minutes.

    What triggers a pity party in you? Ooohhh…I could say lots of things but generally I find there a couple that are party regulars.

    Feeling overwhelmed and unsupported…so when I tell myself I have too much on my plate and no-one seems willing to help when I ask for help.

    Feeling unable to change what I perceive as an unfair situation…feeling powerless. That triggers a potent and dangerous mix of pity and fury…not pretty to be around or experience.

    LOVE THE QUESTIONS…THANKS FOR ASKING.

    leona´s last blog post..the power of the pause

  3. Brett Legree says:

    Umm, I was having a good wallow and didn’t get over here until now? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (Actually, I was having a pretty good brainstorming session as a way of making sure this was a good day, in spite of my day job holding very little interest for me today…)

    1. I generally don’t worry about things, but being human (last time I checked…) I do suffer from stress. I either try to tackle the problem if I can, or if I cannot tackle it because it is beyond my control or I’m not in the right frame of mind, I try to do something else to take my mind off the stress.

    2. Loud music. Very, very loud music. With Vikings. And my car. Nothing like running through the gearbox when the engine’s on boost…

    3. To be honest, if a pity party starts happening in my life, it is usually work related. Some sort of mindless senseless task that will mean nothing in five years (well, nothing to *me*, anyway). Then I might be prone to it (I did it a bit today).

    I took a drive at lunch with a pen and paper, did some scribbling for a little project I am working on, and I felt much better – realizing that while my “work” work today will be meaningless in five years, my brainstorm will be very meaningful to me, and with some luck, to many other people.

    Brett Legree´s last blog post..viking fridays – tears in the rain.

  4. Crista Renner says:

    I indulge in worry and stress a little to get to the root of what’s going on. It usually takes over when I’m in the middle of a decision or transition and I’m starting to second-guess or chicken out of whatever I’ve decided. Example – this week I had to write a law mid-term for school. It was taking hours. And hours. And hours. I started asking myself why the hell I even had to return to school. I had a bit of grumpy time where I was ticked at the world and started questioning everything that was going on. I stayed in that place for about a bottle of wine and then I realized my real issue was time management and focus. Once I realized that, I tackled the issue with vigor (and success). To get out of a funk, I need to retreat. Loud music is helpful, and a little red wine hasn’t hurt yet.

    Failed expectations of myself or others typically cause the pity party. Control is a factor too. Some things just can’t be controlled and when I try to harness those things, and I can’t, I get frustrated. Sometimes letting go is the only solution and magically, the wallow lifts.

  5. When worries and stress start to get me down, I usually will lean into them and really let myself feel them. (I used to try to ignore them, but that didn’t work for me. Denial has never done me much good.)

    I break myself out of a funk by asking myself questions like, “What’s really great about being so paralyzed with fear?” Usually, the silly answers, like “It’s a good excuse not to clean the house or do the laundry” come up first. But then, better, more useful answers start bubbling up, like “It forces me to stop and think, look around at what’s going on, see things I might have missed if I’d kept on.”

    What triggers a pity party in me? Feeling like I’m spinning my wheels and not making a difference anywhere. And being too tired.

    Suzanne Bird-Harris | vAssistant Services´s last blog post..DIY SEO: Step 4 – Keyword Density

  6. Friar says:

    1. I know theoretically, I SHOULDN’T indulge my stress of worries. I should stop concerning myself with things that are beyond my control.

    But I still do. That’s a weakness of mine.

    2. 80% of the time, to get out of it, I do physical excercise, or fishing, or painting and writing. And I have my weekly venting session over beers with my buddy Brett.

    If it’s REALLY bad, I’ll take a “Time Out”. Just be nice to myself, get some comfort food, vedge, and watch TV. (Even take a sick day off work if need be).

    3. I’m with Brett. Word starts the pity-party. When I’m criticized for not doing the proper job by nit-pickers and micro-managers.

    Normally, this alone, I can usually deal with. But if it’s combined with simultaneous criticism from friends or family…that’s when I need to take a Time-Out.

  7. Karen Swim says:

    Alex, as always good self-discovery questions! I sometimes allow the pity party but I time it. I give myself space to indulge in the emotion and then move on. It does no good to remain there. When I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed and paralyzed I try to do one of two things – take an action. Even if it is a small action, it gets me going again, or change my scenery. It can be as simple as going for a walk and freeing my mind and thoughts. Sometimes it’s a cycle of rinse, repeat for those times when the stress persists. Can’t wait to read the round up from the rats. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for being willing to inspire, motivate and teach.

    Karen Swim´s last blog post..Winner in Book Giveaway!

  8. Kelly says:

    Alex,

    I love this post! Great questions, and wonderful comments here as always.

    When worries and stress start to get you down, do you indulge them or shut them off?

    A combo. I indulge them, but channel them pretty much at the same time. I rarely sit down to mope, but okay, I’ll occasionally allow that, too.

    How do you break yourself out of a funk?

    I learned a long time ago that the fastest way out is to permit myself to Be, sort of in the Zen sense. Struggling against a mood or even a whim will just make things worse in the end. Sad? Okay. Angry? Fine. Need new shoes? Well, it couldn’t hurt to look…

    Maybe it’s a latent toddler-thing, but if I say “no” to a wish for one perfect chocolate-chip-cookie, I’ll eat three truffles the next day. If I say “don’t be sad, get over yourself,” I’ll mope for days. If I just allow myself to access the mood (or the cookie), it blows over in ten minutes. Under normal circumstances I don’t hold bad moods for long.

    So the channelling while allowing: Okay, let’s be sad, let’s change gears and write something or create something or sing or take a drive. DO something interesting and different with that energy and embrace it while it’s here.

    What triggers a pity party in you?

    Lack of chocolate. ๐Ÿ™‚

    No, really… I don’t go there very often, but loneliness, I suppose… frustration with not reaching goals as quickly as I want to… not having enough hours in the day… and then the lack of sleep that comes of insufficient hours in the day…

    I’m pleased with who I am, and if I die tomorrow it’s okay, but wishing I could fit more of what (and whom) I love into my days, however limited they turn out to be, will always be a source of boo-hoo to me. I don’t wait for Someday too oftenโ€”there’s just not enough Today!

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post..Inspiration Points: Maximum United Experience

  9. […] week in my post about wallowing, I said that I’d write up a summary of the answers to the post over the weekend. Then given […]

  10. […] past few weeks, I’ve been in a funk and this week it became a full-on wallow. But instead of indulging my wallow in my normal fashion, I reached out and found (in alphabetical order) Brett, Crista, Elaine, James, James & Harry, […]

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