One morning about four years ago I was feeling sorry for myself. I had been wallowing in self pity and I suddenly “woke up” and decided to journal about what I was feeling so that I could change my emotional state.
What was I feeling sorry about?
I was feeling sorry for myself that I was tired, emotionally drained, that I was working so hard, that I didn’t have enough money, and that I was about to make a shift in my business focus yet again. I was also incredibly sore from my workout the day before, taking a hot bath, too tired to get any work done that morning.
“Shouldn’t that be a good thing?” I asked myself. “I’m working out! That should make me feel fantastic.” I’ve discovered a pattern about myself. Often when I have a strenuous workout, I’m a little bit cranky later that day and the next morning. Perhaps it’s the way my body reacts to the increase in testosterone as a response to strength training, including how I physiologically respond to those chemical changes.
As often happens when I’m feeling sorry for myself, I was over-analyzing a client situation and considering future actions based on those worries. Then there was the discussion with a friend about a new business idea that felt precarious. When I added those things on top of each other, like a snowball rolling down a hill gathering momentum and size, I only felt worse.
But then I asked, “Why are you feeling sorry for yourself, Darren?” I realized the problem was my perception. I decided those events were somehow negative. From that awareness I decided to reframe my perspective.
Some of the situations were indeed challenging, especially the ones around making possibly changes to my business, wanting to have an impact, and my concerns about financial profitability and stability. My physical response to working out was another issue. I’ve seen the pattern many times before. The solution was to be prepared: to properly hydrate, get more recovery, and eat enough protein to help me feel better.
Is there a situation in your life where you constantly feel sorry for yourself?
The way to come out on the other side and feel better about your situation is to start by looking backwards. First, grab a pen and a piece of paper or your journal. Next, ask yourself the question, “What specifically am I feeling sorry about?”
Then look at events in your day so far. Perhaps go back in time to yesterday, or the last week. How did those events influenced your thinking? Do you feel positive or negative in relation to those situations?
Consider each event individually. Can you re-frame your emotional and intellectual responses and perceptions to each situation? How can you make each one a positive learning experience? If it’s something you’re struggling with, what can you learn from it?
Write down 1–2 action steps to change your thinking
Ask yourself, “What can I do, right now, that will make me feel better about this situation?” A gentle warning: this is not always easy. Finding the positive in situations can be challenging and sometimes downright daunting. This is also not about faking it — you need to find the truth of what’s good in the situation.
What I learned that morning about myself, was that my concerns are valid, but that they had been repeating unconsciously, and without thoughtful consideration. I made a list of actions, which included challenging myself to talk to new people as a way to expand my network and to discover their needs. I posted reminders in my work area to focus on finding the positive. I also prepared to better manage my mood and energy levels on days when I had a strenuous workout.
Take a moment, now, if you can, and consider what’s dragging you down, how you might be feeling sorry for yourself. How can you re-frame each situation to make it a positive learning experience? What single action can you take right now, to evolve?
Originally published at https://darrenstehle.com on May 23, 2019.