A crisis counselor looks at self-pity
I work as a crisis-counselor and deal everyday with the full range of human problems and emotions. This is my take on a common human reality.
As a student you will encounter discouragement. Discouragement causes a deep hopeless feeling and can be very difficult to overcome. Accepting the many thoughts that go through your mind when you’re discouraged will only enslave you more. They can be thoughts like: “Whats the use?” “I can’t do this.” “It is too hard!” “I should’ve majored in something else.” “I have no time.” “I have no money for that.” “No one knows how hard I work.” “I studied so hard for this!”
The list does not end.
Along with discouragement is its evil twin; self-pity. Self-pity is an exaggerated obsession with licking your wounds and over-victimizing yourself over some pain caused, some type of loss, or a difficult situation you lived. Once you give in to it you are powerless. The focus on self is so powerful that you end up feeling justified in any means you take to make your self feel better, even if what you do doesn’t work.
In the moment any of these show up at your door or just invite themselves in, choose to take the necessary steps to walk in freedom.
Admit reality – Take a second look at what you’re facing and admit what your real situation is. Yes it is difficult. Yes you will have to make some changes. Yes you will have to work hard. But then, accept it.
Reason with yourself – You’re situation may be hard, but its not the worse. You can face it. You can work hard. Think through your “what if” thoughts and doubts. Choose what you will do “if” you do fail or if you don’t get in to the school you wanted. It is not the end of the world. You’re life will go on.
Avoid indulging in “I deserve it” moments – The worse thing you can do is to allow yourself to do something stupid. Control your thoughts and soberly choose a healthy way to relax.
See the bigger picture – One setback doesn’t mean it is the end. It is an opportunity to assess where you failed or what choices you have made, and then change them.
Write out your thoughts – With the swirl of thoughts that plague your mind, write them down. It will help you visualize what you’re thinking and face what really is happening.
Talk to a friend – Express the thoughts and feelings that are emotionally weighing you down with someone you trust but whom will tell you the truth.
Make a plan – Now what? You were hit with something you didn’t expect or worse, something you feared. Make a plan. Brainstorm; be creative. On a blank piece of paper write out what you want to do, what you will do, who you can contact to get advice from, or simply what changes you will make in your life now.
Count the good things in your life – Many people are familiar with the hymn that says “count your blessings, name them one by one”. Most of us just sang the song and never actually named “one-by-one” all the good things we have in our lives. You’ll be surprised.
Stop comparing yourself with other people – You are not them. Your life is different. You’re taking a different path. The world doesn’t need another one of them. Be you. Accept it.
Forgive – Choosing to let go an offense is not condoning it or allowing the person to be set free. Forgiving is taking off the chains and stepping out of the prison of obsessively demanding from the other person a debt they can not pay.
Don’t see yourself as a victim but as a person free to make choices for your future. Make an assessment of the things gained from the difficult things you lived thru. Choose to say “good bye” to things of the past you can’t change. Choose to “welcome” the new experiences and people you will meet.
Self-pity is enslaving. Choose to be free.