Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Perspective - How not to do self pity


It's a wonderful thing, perspective. Sadly, a lot of people don't seem to have a sense of perspective.

Like last week, I woke to have one of "those days". I felt as dreary as the weather outside (which needless to say did nothing to help my mood). I felt utterly miserable and totally sorry for myself.  Why was I having such a bad day?  What did I ever do wrong?  Why was life so crap?  That is how I felt.  Yet at the same time I knew I was bullshitting myself.  I knew I had a good life, with plenty to be happy about.  I knew I was incredibly lucky.  I know how utterly bleak life is for some people.  I have my health, my wonderful daughter and her daddy.  I have a nice home, I have food in my cupboards, I don't particularly have to worry about money and I have a holiday to look forward to.  I knew all this, yet still I was gloomy.  I almost felt rotten for feeling rotten.  So I just kept my head down and got on with the day as best I could (ok so I did lie in bed, have a little cry for a bit and eat too many biscuits), but I waited it out as I knew that in the morning I'd feel different. It was just a bad day (yeah thanks PERIOD).  I didn't moan to anyone else, I didn't strop to anyone else like a petulant child and I did not go looking for sympathy.  Lets face it, it's not as if I had been attacked by killer bees or lost a leg to a shark attack.  That's perspective, see?

Lets cut to another day and another person (not me).  Lets call her Gertrude (just because I can, ok).  Gertrude is by all accounts a nice person.  Really.  However, Gertrude likes to a little something called self pity.  Now that would be all well and good if she actually had problems.  She doesn't.  Well not really.

Gertrude has a good career, lives in a nice BIG house and takes MULTIPLE holidays every year.  Gertrude has magazine subscriptions, wine club, gym memberships and more besides.  Now for Gertrude, as is the case with just about the entire world right now, money has gotten a bit tighter. However, her career means she earns a more than generous salary.  She is still having multiple holidays, and pretty much doing everything she has always done.  So the other day when I saw Gertrude this was how our conversation went...

Me:  How are you?

G: (Massive sigh) oh, you know....

Me: (Concerned by sigh)  Is something wrong, do you need anything?

G: (Another massive sigh) My life is sooo tough right now, it's not fair.  I work so hard.

Me:  Oh no, what is it? 

G:  Well, I am totally and utterly skint.  I'm so upset about it, I've got so many bills and I'm having to cut right back.  It's just so hard... ( G is literally nearly in tears at this point)

Me:  Oh that is awful, I'm sorry to hear that. (Thinking she might be in debt or something)

G:  It's really getting to me, I've had so much on lately. I had that weekend away, then that festival last weekend and that concert coming up this weekend.  Then I've got a few nights out... With all that I'm going to have to cancel going to a friends birthday dinner as I've spent way too much this month.  It's sooo depressing.  I'm just....(voice trails off, eyes are teary)

Me: (anger rising, but keeping it hidden) Maybe you could cut back a little more on something else?  Maybe cancel a membership or something, cut back on holidays?

G:  (looks at me in horror and disgust) Are you serious?  I work soooo hard, I NEED those things.  Without them my life would be HELL, a drudgery! I couldn't live without them. (G is now flailing arms wildly and pointing an accusatory finger at me)

At this point I'm very angry and want to slap the shit out of Gertrude until she bleeds profusely and also possibly stamp on her repeatedly when she hits the ground whilst telling her a few home truths. However, my better judgement and sense of decency steers me away from this course of action (I don't advocate the use of physical violence ever in any way - sometimes it crosses my mind though).  So I decide it will be better to change the subject to avoid turning this conversation into a blood bath.  The conversation is eventually concluded and we went go separate ways.

Just to add, after seeing me Gertrude went swanning off to the gym for a swim, sauna and massage to de-stress. Of course...

Sadly, Gertrude is not the only person in life I've come across like this. I have encountered this with many people. It absolutely infuriates me.  Even if they do want to wallow in imagined self pity that would be fine, as long as they keep it out of my face.  Out of everyone's face.  Go and have your pity party by yourself you arse (like I do with my bed dwelling, biscuit munching antics)!

I don't know about you, but I wasn't brought up to feel sorry for myself.  I often heard the terrifying words uttered "Do you want me to give you something to cry about?" and that threat was enough.  My teary eyes and quivering lip disappeared almost instantly and I got on with it. I'm glad of it today. So why are so many people so self pitying and self indulgent?  Did their parents have a hand in creating these snivelling creatures?  Is it something they can ever change about themselves or is it ingrained in them from childhood?

I always wonder, is it better to humour these people when I encounter them or would I be doing them a favour by shooting them down in flames?   I'd love to do that, but I think if I did I'd just add to their pity.  They would see my intervention as some kind of attack.  I would be the big bad wolf, and them the poor victim (in their eyes)?

So what should I have done/said to griping Gertrude?  What would you do/have you done in a similar situation?  Maybe she could actually do with a good attack from a few killer bees or maybe a shark. Just to put things into perspective...

I'll give you something to cry about...


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