“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.” – Dale Carnegie
Cora has struggled with body image issues for most of her life. From an early age, her mother would both reward Cora’s good behavior and comfort her in sad moments with sweets and junk food. In elementary school, kids would say things like, “Cora ate everything in the stora.” Okay, not the best rhyme, but hurtful just the same. As Cora reached adulthood, she found herself in an endless cycle of shame over her weight. She tried everything. Diet books, diet plans, diet clubs. She started exercise regimens, joined health clubs, bought home gym equipment. None of them worked because, in the end, she didn’t follow through with any of them. Cora found it much easier to cozy up to a bag of Cheetos and feel sorry for herself. She also blamed her mother and the kids in school (remember Blame is one of the ways we defer accountability) but her number one go-to was wrapping herself in the comfy blanket of self-pity. What I like to call the “poor me” story. “I just don’t have the strength to do it. I was dealt a bad hand. I guess I was just meant to be fat and unhealthy.” To which I say, “Come on Cora, get off the floora and stop being such a bora.” (Hey, I never said I was a poet.)
There are three ways in which we defer accountability to our vision – Blame, No Belief, and Feeling Sorry for Ourselves. Some people even reach a professional level of deferral in which they practice all three. We like to call that the tri-fu*k-ta. But feeling sorry for ourselves is not something that happens to us; it is a choice that we make. And that means that Feeling Sorry is an action that we can recognize, redirect, and overcome.
When we feel sorry for ourselves, there are several different strategies for it. Usually, we have some kind of “poor me” story going on. We’re looking for empathy or nurturing because it feels good. We feel seen in that, but it doesn't mean that it's taking us toward our vision. Instead, we're seeing how we can't do anything about reality or the environment that we're in, and we diminish ourselves in some way. As a result of that focus, we take away the possibility of creating a new outcome, and we're no longer aligned with the ability to fulfill the vision that we choose for our life.
Here’s a fun exercise to try. The next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, go find a mirror and pout. You know, like you did when you were a kid. Get a good frown going and stick out your lower lip. I mean really get it out there, put your chin into it. You’re going to feel so ridiculous looking at your pouty face that you’ll stop feeling sorry for yourself real quick. Better yet, try it in front of a group of people. I’ll tell you right now, they’re going to laugh at you. And you’re going to laugh at yourself. Which is a good thing. It’s important we learn to laugh at ourselves from time to time. Then, get on to the business of owning the space. Acknowledge that you're feeling sorry for yourself and name it. Then, ask, “What is it going to create? What is the outcome that this is going to move me toward? What am I going to end up answering to if I feel sorry for myself? What can I do in this moment to align more fully with my vision and to move toward the outcome that I choose to create?”
Remember, accountability isn't good or bad. It's just something that is true for all of us. It’s like gravity—it simply Is. We are all going to answer to the things that we focus on and the energy that we put out. When we make this a conscious act, we simply get to empower ourselves through answering to the wonderful things that we create in life rather than answering to the things we do not want to experience for ourselves.
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