We all need a pity party once in awhile.
Plans don’t come to fruition. People hurt you. Murphy (the famous one, from Murphy’s Law) shows up at your house and doesn’t leave. Loved ones are sick. You got screwed over at your job. The list could go on and on. Shit happens. What is the best way to deal with it?
It is ok to be angry or sad or disappointed or whatever it is you are feeling. Popular psychology states that validation is important. You can validate your feelings with a pity party. Let’s take a look at it as if it were any other party and you are the party planner.
The Event Should Fit the Occasion
All parties are not created equal.
Just like your backyard barbecue to celebrate the 4th of July is not the same party you (in most cases) would throw for a wedding, you would not throw the same kind of pity party when an appliance dies or if you got let go from your job. Do a quick evaluation, doing your best to avoid any histrionics, and decide where the situation falls on your Catastrophic Life Scale (yes, I just made that up). One being you forgot to add sugar to your coffee and one hundred being the death of a loved one. If it is somewhere between one and ten then just suck it up Buttercup, it doesn’t deserve a pity party. If it is ninety or higher it is most likely bigger than the advice given in this post and please take your self care seriously. If it is between 11 and 89 then start planning.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the importance of the occasion you can get into the details.
The Guest List
Most of the time you should be the only guest. This is especially true the lower the number is on your catastrophic life scale. There are appropriate times to ask others to join you. If the situation that is making you feel bad also involved others, you can issue an invite. There are also times when it would be ok to ask a trusted friend or loved one to be there to vent and share some empathy. Those invitations should be used with careful consideration. You don’t want to turn into a constant complainer or a Debbie Downer.
Activities and Entertainment
This is where you get to be creative! You can always go with the tried and true standby- pajamas, ice cream, and Netflix but some pity parties shouldn’t even be given that much attention and some need a little more significance.
If you are just having a general bad day you could make a profane and ridiculous toast with your beverage of choice. If the aforementioned Murphy shows up you can do an exorcism of sorts and in a very loud, authoritative voice let him know that he is not welcome and to leave your presence (this is probably best done without an audience). If the situation warrants it, sometimes a “mental health day” off of work is beneficial or a short abstinence from electronics may do the trick.
If you like a traditional tantrum then a good old symbolic destruction or ritualistic burning is the way to go. Maybe the blue screen of death fell upon your laptop, get out a sledge hammer before you put it (or pieces of it) to rest. If you are suffering from a break up because someone cheated on you, burn those love letters to ash. [DISCLAIMER: I am not advocating the destruction of any usable property or the property of someone else. Keep in mind that a strain on your budget or a jail sentence could be detrimental to you and not at all part of a healing process.] Whatever your activity of choice is, do a double check that it still fits the occasion.
It is possible to use this same creativity and throw a pity party for someone else. You should know this person well enough to know what might cheer them up or feel confident that a good venting would help. Lunch or a cup of coffee is a good standard, as is a bottle of wine or a good piece of chocolate.
Thinking outside the box could even make it fun. I have a friend who once threw her husband a brilliant pity party. The husband in question had gotten some disappointing news from the company that he worked for. Due to some reorganization of the company it was going to take him longer to get the position he was working towards. My friend, acting as hostess, decorated the bedroom with balloons and crepe paper and welcomed him to his own private pity party. Such an obvious yet novel way to cheer him up!The most important part of your pity party is when it ENDS! Click To Tweet
The location is mostly a matter of common sense. If it involves pajamas, admonishing an imaginary Murphy, ugly crying, or fire it should be held in an appropriate private space. A civilized pity party can be held in public, out in the open, if any and all guests can follow social norms.
Picking the time for your party is essential. The party usually begins when you start feeling sorry for yourself. The most important part of your pity party is when it ENDS. Let me repeat that. The most important part of your pity party is when it ENDS! Every party has a start time and an end time. Pick the end time before the party really gets going. Schedule it. How long your party is scheduled for depends on the circumstance. Your party may only require enough time to take a nap. It could require an overnight so you can sleep on it. If it is a really significant circumstance higher on your catastrophic life scale, it is ok to drag your party out for a week or two. However, no matter what, when the party is over you shut it down, clean up, and go home.
The reason it is good to cap the time and energy you sink in to a pity party is that 1) you don’t want it to spiral into a cesspool of negativity and turn into a bona fide funk or depression and 2) As soon as it is over you can either get on with your life or begin to fix whatever your problem is. You gave those negative feelings a voice and now you can move ahead with some action. You can make a plan or up your game or forgive someone.
I hear some of you laughing. It really works. Try it. Really. Give your pity parties a deadline and honor it. Let me know if it works for you, too.
Have you ever done something creative to throw you or someone else a pity party? Have you ever given yourself a deadline to stop feeling sorry for yourself?