How and Why to Plan a Divorce Pity Party
We've all been there. Something happens that throws off our day, week, or month, and suddenly, everything feels unmanageable. We wonder why we find ourselves feeling like this yet again.
This, my friends, means it might be time to throw yourself a pity party. I know it might sound weird, but hear me out.
What is a pity party?
For so long, the term "pity party" has been used as a way to mock someone who is being overly dramatic or overreacting to a situation. I challenge you to rethink that term. What if we stepped back and reframed the meaning of "pity party?" You see, every once in a while, it's perfectly healthy – in fact, it's essential – to take time to sulk, cry, reflect, rant. You know, let it out.
What if we approached our raw emotions, our reactions to bad situations, as opportunities to be celebrated? After all, it's only by bringing the darkness to the light that we 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, carrying so much shame about our real feelings that we fall into depression.
Our emotions get the best of us sometimes. The feelings can be overwhelming. But the only way out is through.
My solution: a pity party.
Feeling your feelings
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 fast. So, I'd like to share my ultimate guide to throwing yourself a pity party and my best tips on how to get excited about the next time you need to schedule a time-out for yourself.
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Four steps to throwing the ultimate pity party
1. Keep track of your daily emotions
I can't begin to tell you how many beneficial things came from doing this one 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 of 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 often noticed I felt the same way the prior month. What I really loved about being able to see these patterns, though, was noticing that I also had a pattern of feeling extremely happy. Recording and looking back on my emotions each day began to give me something to look forward to. I was able to tell myself that what I was now feeling would 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 any type of party, we need a start time and an end time. You know those guests who linger long after a party has ended? That's exactly what can happen with your feelings if you 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. Then, stick to it.
Personally, I like to set aside a Saturday afternoon because that's when I have the most free time.
3. Plan your essentials
What's a party without entertainment? It's important to plan ahead and think about things that comfort you and give you a positive outlet for your feelings before your pity party starts. (Before you hit total breakdown mode, that is.) Jot down some things that soothe you, such as visiting a certain place, working outside, journaling, or 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 one, so the activities should be things you can do by yourself. This step is important. Make this list ahead of your pity party and with a level head. It's not so easy to do later, when we're in tunnel vision, and it will create the balance you 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, set yourself up to end the party with a definition of the problem or challenge responsible for your feelings and possible steps toward a solution. This allows us to take steps to shift our thinking and focus on solving (or eliminating) the problem that brought us to this point in the first place.
If you're 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 one or two things you can challenge yourself to do differently. Slowly, your perspective and the way you react to your triggers will start to shift. Eventually, you'll be able to put that nagging challenge behind you for good.