Party of One: 4 Steps to Plan the Ultimate Pity Party (and Why You Need to Have One ASAP)

We’ve ALL been there… Something happens that just throws off our day/week/month and suddenly everything feels unmanageable and we wonder how we’ve found ourselves feeling like this, yet again.

This, my friends, means it might be time to throw yourself a pity party.

I know: this might sound weird, but hear me out!

For so long, the term “pity party” has been used as a way to mock someone who is being overly dramatic in overreacting to a bad situation. I’d like to challenge you to rethink that term. What if we stepped back and reframed that term a little differently?

You see, every once in a while, it’s perfectly healthy – in fact, essential – to take some time to sulk, cry, reflect, rant – you know, LET IT OUT. What if instead, we approached our raw emotions, our reactions to a bad situation, as an opportunity to be celebrated?

It is only by bringing the darkness to light that can we ever heal.

For so long, we have conditioned ourselves to suppress our feelings. We try so hard to mask our raw emotions. Or, perhaps we go the opposite direction and carry so much shame about our real feelings that we fall into depression. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us and if you’re just starting to do some soul searching, the feelings can be overwhelming. But the only way out, is through.

My solution: the pity party.

Over the years, I’ve learned to accept my emotions, recognize them, and use them as an opportunity to get my party on. I give myself the space to truly feel my feelings. I set aside time, and I let myself wallow in whatever I need to wallow in. For a set period of time.

When I went through my divorce, I knew that I was going to be feeling things I didn’t want to feel. But I was determined to sort through my emotions properly. This led me to develop a plan of action before my (inevitable) feelings became too much to handle.

Obviously, without a plan, a pity party can go south real fast. So, I’d like to share my ultimate guide to throwing yourself a pity party, and my best tips on how to actually get excited about the next time you need to schedule a time-out for yourself.

4 Steps to Throwing the Ultimate Pity Party:

1. Start keeping track of your daily emotions
I can’t begin to tell you how many beneficial things came from doing this one, single thing. I decided to start writing just a line or two in my planner each day to capture exactly how I was feeling. After a couple months of doing this, I was able to start recognizing my emotional patterns (and even patterns in how my hormones might be influencing my emotions). When I started feeling a little off, I would go back to the previous month and – aha! – sure enough, I found so often that I had been feeling the same way the month prior. What I really loved about being able to see these patterns, though, was that I was able to see that after a few days, I also had a pattern of feeling extremely happy. Recording and looking back on my emotions by day began to give me something to look forward to. I was able to tell myself that what I was feeling now was going to pass; I just needed to embrace it.

2. Set an end time for your pity party
Give yourself the time and space you need to feel your emotions, but make sure you set a deadline. Just like throwing any type of party, we need a start time and an end time. You know those guests that linger, long after the party time has ended? That’s exactly what can happen with our feelings if we don’t set a start and end time. Designate a block of time to sit with, feel and process your feelings, but do not let it go any farther than that. Look at your schedule and decide how much time you’re going to allow yourself and STICK TO IT.

Personally, I like to set aside a Saturday afternoon because that’s when I have the most free time available.

3. Plan your essentials
What’s a party without entertainment? It’s important to plan ahead and think about some of the things that provide you comfort and that act as a positive outlet for your feelings, BEFORE your pity party has started (aka total breakdown mode). You might need a way out once you reach the stopping time of your party.

Jot down some things that soothe you, like going to a certain place, working outside, journaling, listening to music while you clean (my personal pity favorite). Things that comfort you don’t need to cost money or too much time. And remember, this is a party of 1, so these activities should be things you can do by yourself.

This step is important. Make this list this ahead of your pity party, with a level head – it’s not so easy to do later, when we’re in tunnel vision – and it will creates the balance you’ll need to counter your melancholy feelings.

4. Define the problem and the solution
You didn’t think you were going to leave this party empty-handed, did you? We get gifts at pity parties, didn’t you know??! Before you give yourself space to indulge in your negative emotions, you have to set yourself up to end the party with a definition of the problem or challenge responsible for your feelings, with possible steps toward a solution.

This allows us to take steps to shift our thinking, to focus on solving (or eliminating) the problem that brought us to this point in the first place. If you are experiencing the same emotions from the same issue(s) over and over, don’t beat yourself up. (Also, don’t expect a total change.) But do focus on maybe one or two things that you can challenge yourself to do differently. Slowly, your perspective and the way you react to your triggers will start shifting. Eventually, you’ll be able to put that nagging challenge behind you, for good.

So, there you have it!

As I wrote above, the only way out is through. Process your emotions, don’t hide them. Work through your feelings. Throw yourself a pity party once in a while to give yourself the time and space to heal your emotional wounds.

Soon, you’ll see that celebrating the process of healing your emotional wounds can truly turn a negative experience that we dread into a healing, sacred time with ourselves.

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