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February 16, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

What are some things you like to tell or remind yourself about when you have "woe is me" moments to steer yourself out of self-pity/moments of weakness and back into awesomeness?
posted by Christ, what an asshole to Health & Fitness (53 answers total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
Think about all the people who have it worse than you, and be grateful for everything you do have.
posted by amro at 12:44 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

"First World problems." Works like a charm.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:47 PM on February 16, 2011 [33 favorites]

That someone or thing is depending on me or will be needing my help. That this world is better with me in it. I can feed a hungry cat, answer a client or customer's question, help my boss format his spreadsheet, babysit for a friend, help lift a heavy box for someone who can't, etc. etc. etc. Thinking about all the ways I can be a micro-hero for someone.
posted by pointystick at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

I like to remind myself that unlike someone I know I did not have to give my own child mouth to mouth resuscitation the other day. Today is a good day and tomorrow is likely to be better.
posted by caddis at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2011

If said moment of weakness is based on social faux pas, I just remember that "no one pays as much attention to me as I do, so get over it."
posted by wowbobwow at 12:51 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

You are deeply and unconditionally loved. The universe is conspiring to bring you new and unexpected joys each and every day.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:52 PM on February 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

It sounds trite, maybe, but all I need most days is to sit outside in the sunshine for a minute.
posted by lydhre at 12:52 PM on February 16, 2011

I'll die eventually and none of this will matter then! Okay, that's kind of bleak, but somehow it works, sometimes.
posted by ashotinthearm at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

"Being full of anger and fear is a lot like sex. Put a dick inside a pussy and I'm fucked."

"When I'm in a world of shit, it's usually because I have my head stuck up my ass."

Rule 1) Don't sweat the small shit.
Rule 2) It's all small shit.

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

There is no greater threat to serenity than an expectation unmet.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:54 PM on February 16, 2011

I remember the times I've felt like crap in the past, and remind myself that those times passed, and so will this one. Every day is a new day.
posted by MadamM at 12:55 PM on February 16, 2011

What I do sometimes is mentally travel back to times when I was very low, and I imagine myself standing there next to younger-me, bearing witness and offering comfort.

Hence, when I experience times like these now, I know I am not really alone; me-from-the-future is standing there invisibly, offering comfort and perspective from a time further down the road.
posted by hermitosis at 12:57 PM on February 16, 2011 [37 favorites]

Yes, you could compare yourself to others less fortunate and say, "It could always be worse" but - at least when I do that - I always feel like kind of an elitist jerk when making the comparison. Kind of like a "Thank God I'm not in their shoes!" type thing. Well... how would I feel if I WERE in their shoes and I heard someone say that? Pretty shitty.

So, instead, I tend to agree with Burhanistan. I try to always carry a sense of gratitude for everything I've been given & experienced. Even the bad stuff can teach you a lot, especially the further removed from it you get. Perspective is key. Even more crucially - and this will sound corny as all get out - but I try to spread that gratitude, joy, and happiness to others, because that's where the real appreciation comes from.

All easier said than done, but when it's working, it's really working.
posted by Rewind at 12:59 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

See Louis C.K.

Try 9:00 minutes in; I have forgotten how to alter the link so that it starts there. (Continue to the beginning of Part 4. Watch as much as you need to.)
posted by wittgenstein at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I actually get mildly annoyed when people tell me (or when I tell myself) I am having princess problems. Yeah, I know there are children starving in the world, but I'm still really upset I didn't get that promotion and I still don't know how I'm going to pay that bill and now I feel guilty for feeling bad about it on top of the original problem.

When I'm down and out I just tell myself that at some point I will get through it, just by dint of the passage of time. I will come out of whatever situation and it probably won't kill me. It will all be ok.
posted by chatongriffes at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]

I (personally) don't use "First World problems" to make myself feel guilty about complaining-- I use it to remind myself that my basic needs (food, housing, physical safety, etc) are taken care of, and that the only thing standing in the way of me doing what I need to do (tackling a scary amount of work, having a hard conversation, handling a negative event) is myself. It's more of a "You have no excuses not to deal with this like an adult, so get to it!"
posted by oinopaponton at 1:07 PM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

I do things, rather than saying things to myself. If I'm feeling down, the worst thing I can do for myself is just sit still. I clean out my closet, tidy up the house, read a good book, go outside and take pictures (those last two things are basically just things that I enjoy doing period, but doing things I love helps keep me happy).

If I do still need a reminder after some productive & me-time, I think "DFTBA (Don't Forget to be Awesome)" to myself, the adage of the Nerdfighters.
posted by litnerd at 1:09 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

1. That I've felt hopeless and like a perpetual failure before, and it passed.
2. That in the end, all anyone is doing in their time on earth is trying to be less shitty at stuff.
posted by kagredon at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I remember that nothing exists except physical reality; all the upset, pity, anger and woe are just thoughts rattling around in my brain. In other words, I made it all up. So I can make up something else.
posted by desjardins at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I start going down a list of my accomplishments. If my mood is particularly crappy, I'll do a lot of "oh, well, that doesn't really count," but I can eventually wear myself down by sheer volume, even if it means counting "remembered to buy cat food" and "emptied the dishwasher" as accomplishments.

'Cause you know what? I emptied the fuck out of that dishwasher.
posted by Zozo at 1:16 PM on February 16, 2011 [42 favorites]

I think about the overwhelming size and complexity of the universe and the cold, dead emptiness of space, or about what it's like to be a bear or a bird living in the unforgiving machine of nature. There are even a few resources I turn to keep these thoughts from growing fuzzy and to fuel my imagination (Carl Sagan's "Intelligent Life in the Universe", some scale drawings of stars, videos of animals in the Arctic).

For some reason, thinking about the vastness and seemingly unlimited intricacy of the universe gives me a fundamental baseline of happiness. I imagine the feelings it causes me to have are similar to the satisfaction religious people get from their faith, except I find the mystery of a meaningless and mindless cosmos far more comforting than any religious narrative. Try it!
posted by geneva uswazi at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2011

Seconding desjardins. I try to remember that there probably isn't such a thing as reality anyway--it's all perception--that is, hallucination. So hallucinate something different. It's funny how it really is all perception. Once at a very low point in my life I was telling someone how my sister died when I was 22, then both my parents died and most recently my wife had died, and they said what a tragic life I'd had. And I suddenly saw that it might look like that, but until then I had never seen it that way--it was just Life. And there was good stuff in there too. Still is.

So yes--This Too Shall Pass.
posted by Logophiliac at 1:44 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I read some of my 315 positive feedbacks on eBay. That way, if nothing else, I know I'm an excellent buyer and seller!
posted by FormerMermaid at 1:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]

Remind yourself that it's okay to be unhappy. Many people severely castigate people for being unhappy and that's a huge part of the problem. Throw that off and you've got a powerful hack on your hands.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:49 PM on February 16, 2011 [8 favorites]

I like to think about a guy I knew who spent a summer working in a slaughterhouse blood pit. Shoveling dead frogs with a pitchfork and 90 degree heat figured prominently in his workplace description.
posted by rr at 1:51 PM on February 16, 2011

I've been feeling like this a lot lately. One quote that's been helping a lot is:

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” - Mary Anne Radmacher

I use it as shorthand for telling myself that what's done is done, and there's no need to dwell endlessly on past failures - they don't define me. Tomorrow is a new day and a clean slate and a chance to make things right again. All I need to do is find the strength to not give up on that chance. And, conversely, I feel better that something so small as being willing to try again can count as courage.
posted by daelin at 1:56 PM on February 16, 2011 [25 favorites]

I'm having one of those days today. Sorry to say that none of the above advice has really turned my crank until I read this: 'Cause you know what? I emptied the fuck out of that dishwasher and nearly spit coffee all over my keyboard! For me it helps to know that I'm not alone in this project. I also try to DO one thing, even if it's small because at least Something got done. Seriously Zozo, that's gonna be my new mantra in these situations.
posted by sockraticpielogue at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like to remind myself of Calvin's dad's advice: "It builds character."
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

This depends on whether by "woe is me" you are a) lamenting the misfortunes that have befallen you, or b) feeling in the dumps, self-esteem-wise. "First world problems" can remedy a) with its guilt-tripping jolting into proper perspective. But for b) I like reminding myself how many people I know who are conscienceless yet self-righteous, obsequious yet power-hoarding parasites -- and how much more I deserve to thrive than them, and how crucial it is that I triumph above them. No, it's not angelic reasoning, but it works for me.
posted by taramosalata at 2:11 PM on February 16, 2011

Don't y'all just check your metafilter favorites???

Or, like some of the posters above said, Doing Things can help. Specifically (particularly if you feel like your day is a wash), ask yourself what concrete things you can do today that will make tomorrow better. Pack a lunch, lay out our clothes, unload the dishwasher, send some email you've been procrastinating on, etc., and you have set yourself up for a better day tomorrow. Plus, then you're awesome again because you just got some stuff done.
posted by BlooPen at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Some of this is repetitive, but I try to do things from the following list:

1) Get out of the house, whether it's to walgreens to pick up a prescription or to starbucks. This reminds me I'm capable of doing some things like a real person, and it forces me to get out of my bathrobe and into some real clothes, which leads into

2) What Zozo said. It honestly does range from "I finally got my college degree" to "I emptied the dishwasher" to "I got out of bed today."

If those don't work, I play with my cat. Before I had a cat, I went for a walk somewhere I could peoplewatch. Usually after a bit of that I get enough non-stressful external stimuli that the "woe is me" cycle is broken.
posted by mismatched at 2:23 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Don't be humble, you're not that great." – Golda Meir

Seems like an odd quote for steering yourself out of despair, but for me it works. (Also works for moments of supreme egotism and other foibles as well.) I think that it does work because there's this underlying indulgence that goes along with allowing yourself to be consumed by pity. When I remind myself that no one's really watching this sad screenplay (as much as they're into standing outside of and peering into their own), it snaps me out of it some. At least enough to laugh. And that's good enough to take the first step in a new direction for the little unacknowledged moment.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:41 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nothing is permanent. Not good times, not bad times. Things change. Try to do something nice for someone else.
posted by wowbobwow at 3:18 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a Dale Carnegie trick, but really meditate on "what's the worst that could happen?" For 99% of problems, you're not going to end up starving, losing your house/job/spouse, or dying. Things are rarely as bad as you think.
posted by holterbarbour at 3:19 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

I try to think of all the things I'm grateful for. That works on one level, but I also try to deal with whatever is causing the self pity in the first instance.

Let's say I got splashed with water while walking down the street, by a passing car. OK, that's annoying. I might remind myself that it's just water, not acid. It will dry out, so I won't be wet forever. Even if my suede shoes are ruined, I can buy another pair. What happened doesn't really matter, when seen through a large enough filter.

I also try to not spiral down. I try to deal with whatever is causing me to feel self pitying as soon as possible. If you walk ten steps, you only have to walk ten to get back to where you were. If you walk a hundred, it's a slightly different story.

Sometimes I even try to be compassionate about the driver of the car - maybe he was in a hurry to get to his wife who is about to give birth in a hospital 50 miles away, or something. This works the best, I find, but it can be the most difficult. It fills up my internal TV screen with compassion for a fellow human being who might not even realise that he splashed me, rather than self-oriented pity. And if it does seem that the other person hurt me deliberately, then I pity them, because that must really be a shitty life to live.
posted by Solomon at 3:19 PM on February 16, 2011

Recently, every time I felt like this, I just think, "Every man has his burden." It helps me put things in perspective and TCOB.
posted by saul wright at 4:15 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

A less-condescending spin on the "first world problem" perspective: My dad would often say, "It's a good problem to have," or "You're lucky to have that problem."

I find that it helps a lot. It doesn't diminish the fact that the problem is a real one, but it helps me frame my attitude toward it and keeps me from catastrophizing it to death, which I can easily do.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:21 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

No matter what the situation, it could always be worse. Every day you wake up is a gift. When something bad happens like a fender bender just be thankful no one was hurt or killed.
posted by sandyp at 4:30 PM on February 16, 2011

I play myself this song. It is awesome and (although I'm not quite sure why) it makes me smile.
posted by crabintheocean at 4:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the words "This too will pass" inscribed on the inside of one of my rings (which I wear everyday). When I'm freaking the fuck out or am just utterly miserable, that ring will often come into my line of sight, or come to my attention (from handwringing? ha). So that's a good trigger to remind me, next minute's gonna be different, next hour'll be different, tomorrow things will be different - and maybe not better - but different. Maybe tomorrow will be worse, but I can look back at PastMe and say, hey, I got thru that OK. I can get thru this.
posted by gerls at 5:05 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been reading about buddhism lately, specifically with regards to the idea of emptiness. It has been helping make those feelings and general existential dread (what I call "the fear") disolve.

I like to think about the our perception of people and objects and intentions and our perception of the various implications of the existance of those people, their intentions and the objects around us. We have opinions on "why" things are, as if the nature of the existance the people and things we perceive is intrinsic to the things themselves.

But there is the way that things really are, which may be quite different from how we perceive them. Things are dependant on so many other prerequisites: A table is made from wood from different trees, fabricated in a factory, designed by people based on an old antique design, varnished with chemicals from different factories. On and on and on it goes. The table exists because of those things. It is only a person that can say whether it is ugly. And other people may disagree. Other people may love the table.

We do not have an intrinsic existance. We exist because of a vast, practically infinite confluence of events that have conspired to put us into the chair we are currently sitting, thinking about ourselves. We ourselves are the outcome of being born, of being raised (or not) by a family, of generations, of migration, of evolution, of human history itself.

The difference between us and the table, is that sometimes we can make choices that affect our nature. We can decide to get up from our chair, pack up our things and go to the gym and eat a healthy meal and call a friend on the phone, because we perceive these things will contribute to our happiness. We can decide to contribute to the happiness of others.

The point is not that our perception is not real, because it is. It is the lense through which we see existance. The point is that we can build our own vision of the world through our choices, and by recognizing the negative effects of exaggerating the weight of negative thoughts.

I don't know if I explained it very well, but this has been what is working for me.
posted by dobie at 5:11 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

agreeing with getting outside. One of the things I say to myself when I'm feeling out of sorts and cranky is "It's not like I'm going to look back at my life and wish I spent more time cooped up in front of a screen." I always feel better for having gotten out and done something even mildly physical.

Nobody gets to decide I'm useless except me, and I'm wrong at least half the time.

Shit rolls downhill, but if you're climbing the hill, you'll see it coming.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think about my pets. If it's possible, I do something to take care of them, like give the cats a treat or clean the snakes' cages or something. These are the lives which are dependent on me, and I truly love these little creatures. I may screw up on a lot of other things, but I always, always take care of my pets. And just watching the cats sleep or the snakes hang out on their perches makes me feel like there are things much more beautiful and innocent in the world than I sometimes remember. Going hiking is good for that too, when weather and time permit.
posted by Because at 6:14 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use 'rear view mirror' -- the things that are loom before me today are the things getting smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror tomorrow.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:33 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know how old you are or how many life crises you've experienced, but oddly enough the more actual shit I've experienced, the easier it is for me to realize that TODAY is not really that bad. I mean, if I'm not:

- abruptly unemployed when my wife is a SAHM and we have a 2 and a 3 year old.
- a paycheck away from bankruptcy (and wondering if the paycheck is coming) when my wife works at the same company and we have a 9 and a 10 year old.
- in a hospital bed because of an accident (I got better).
- sweating whether someone will buy my company out and then whether they'll hire me

odds are it's not the worst day of my life.

If that doesn't work, watch this.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:18 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wherever you go, there you are.

Oops, enclose the foregoing in quotes.

Fly through the shitstorm. Or, as one of my teachers used to say, all you can do is live through it. And you do. And hey, it was just a shitstorm.
posted by bricoleur at 7:47 PM on February 16, 2011

Not for moments when you need to be kind to yourself, but sometimes I think of this from D. H. Lawrence:

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.

posted by kitcat at 8:31 PM on February 16, 2011 [11 favorites]

For me, personally, I remind myself of much worse situations I made it through and that helps put things into context. And then I remind myself of how much strength, patience, or whatever it took to make it through that, and, gratefulness for the luck and blessings that took care of the rest.

An alternate take on it -could- be worse- call your friends and listen to their problems. You'll probably find out real quick:

a) Your problems aren't that big
b) Your problems are pretty much the same as their problems
c) Your problems are actually kinda worse, but you have people who care about you and may be able to help.
(alternately, with C, you may realize how bad things are, and get advice on how to take action.)

Perspective makes everything happen.
posted by yeloson at 8:47 AM on February 17, 2011

I turn on the news.

Yes, this makes me one of the "imagine how things could be worse" people, and I recognize that this is sort of shitty, like, "At least I'm not THAT guy!" But it does help me. There's always something about some war zone and I think about how it would feel to have bombs dropping around me and to feel scared to leave the house, like the people in that war zone, and I feel really grateful to have security and peace and a roof over my head and an intact family.
posted by chickenmagazine at 10:34 AM on February 17, 2011

As posted above, it really is okay to let yourself feel down. Screw the housework & social obligations for the rest of the day, put in a favorite movie & treat yourself to a box of See's candies or as much hot fudge sundae as you can stand. Tomorrow will be a new day.
posted by PepperMax at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2011


Works for me!
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 1:55 PM on February 17, 2011

I've been getting Cognitive Behavior Therapy to deal with depression, and it's worked pretty well. I pretty much just remind myself of something positive that's happened to me recently, even if it's pretty small. Like yesterday, the band i was photographing gave me a shout out from the stage, and one of my friends called me up to have a drink with him. That's pretty neat! People like me!

It sounds cheesy, but it works. Focus on the good stuff. Doesn't matter what the 'good stuff' is. Just focus on it. Tonight I'm sick and I have to stay home (on a Friday) but that's cool! I'll probably watch a classic movie or get some XBox Achievements!

If i focus on the vastness of the universe or the eternity of time I just get depressed.

Otherwise I just listen to my favorite music, most of which is about listening to your favorite music to make yourself feel better. A bit circular.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:35 PM on February 17, 2011

I've also scheduled my life so I've got at least one or two social engagements each week, even if it's just going down to the pub. Being around people gets me out of my own head, and reminds me I'm okay with people. Conversely, if I've been socializing too much I schedule a day at home to let my brain recover
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:38 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Two things I tell myself, repeatedly:

If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I'm doing okay (For objectively minor things that feel much worse than they actually are)

I am strong, I will get through this (For pretty bad stuff, or when the above isn't cutting it)
posted by mostly vowels at 5:51 AM on February 18, 2011

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