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The Power of Pity Parties

Photo by: Matthew Henry

Being an entrepreneur is like signing up to solve calculus equations while you’re strapped onto a rollercoaster that’s powered entirely by emotions. You’ll experience high levels of focus, motivation, and confidence, but at some point, you’ll get derailed from your plans and feel defeated or even hopeless.

And that’s totally okay—you’re human. It’s okay to fall out of sync with your ideal structure. It’s okay to mess up.

But what happens when you’re sitting curled up, feeling sorry for yourself? Many on social media would hashtag this #firstworldproblems, but sometimes, business setbacks can feel reeeaaalllly bad. Especially when something you’ve created and poured your heart and soul into doesn’t land the way you want it to—the stakes can sometimes feel incredibly high and a disappointment can really take its toll.

It’s better to acknowledge these feelings and face them head on rather than pushing them away and berating yourself for showing weakness or sadness. Allowing yourself to acknowledge what sucks at the moment and even finding others who “get it” can allow you to feel seen and empowered, and ultimately move forward as a stronger person.

And before you tell yourself that what you’re upset about is “stupid” or “unimportant”, realize that there’s a good chance you’re not even upset about the thing you think you’re upset about.

Fixating on why you’re feeling in the dumps isn’t always necessary. Just allow yourself to release the energy, no matter the cause or rationale. Not everything has to make sense or be figured out. Because the sooner you can release it, the sooner you can get back to what matters.

Finally, it’s important to always remember we are more than the situations we find ourselves in. Once you’ve taken a moment to vent or cry, make sure to think back to the last time you accomplished a goal or simply felt good about yourself. This can be hard, but trust me, you’re probably doing better than you think.

The right way to wallow

Now that you’ve accepted that it’s OK to RSVP to the occasional pity party, how can you ensure you won’t overstay your welcome?

Deciding ahead of time what you will and won’t allow yourself to do when things get tough can be a helpful exercise. It helps you give yourself some structure and realize that setbacks will happen but don’t need to define you. You can’t control outcomes, but you can control how you react to those outcomes.

Additionally, just like any plan you create, you may not always meet it. Sometimes you will talk yourself out of having that pity party and other times you may find yourself staring at the bottom of a pint of ice cream crying as you listen to Adele on repeat.

Hey, it happens.

But to ensure it doesn’t happen every time your plans fall apart, download my Pity Party Contract. Make a promise to yourself to allow the feels to come, but not without a game plan for getting back in, well, the game.

First, acknowledge that you’re entitled to this pity party and what it is you’re feeling. Is it anger? Is it doubt about your abilities? Is it embarrassment? Is it jealousy? It may be all of these things, or something else, but whatever it may be—own it. Own it all.

Next, decide how long you’re going to take and what you’ll do with that time. 15 minutes in a hot shower? 30 minutes on the phone with your best friend? An hour to catch up on your favorite TV drama and forget real life for a bit?

Lastly, have lists handy of people you can call on for help in the event things do escalate to the “worst case scenario.” For example, a list of professionals you can call upon in a work emergency (your website guru, a fellow creative, the head supervisor at the manufacturing company) AND in a personal emergency (a family member, a medical doctor, a therapist).

Use this worksheet once or twice to get a feel for how you can handle future bumps in the road. Think of it as your emotional fire drill plan.

So this holiday season, amidst all of the celebrating, don’t be afraid to add a judgment-free pity party to your schedule.

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