Feeling sorry for myself

I was listening to some podcasts that were talking in passing about life coaching, and I thought that might be a worthwhile thing for me to do. Life coaching differs from therapy (and this is purely a layperson’s view, so forgive me) in that therapy is more about addressing emotional issues where life coaching has a more practical focus on what you do and whether it’s getting you to where you want to be.

This isn’t to suggest I wouldn’t benefit from therapy. It’s pretty certain I would. But fixing my emotional issues, which are legion, will take a while and I was thinking life coaching might be a way to kick start me into action on the theory that action precedes motivation.

So I started rehearsing what I might say to the life coach by way of laying out my goals for the sessions. I’m just guessing here but I’m pretty sure “what do you want to get from coaching?” is going to be near the top of their list of questions. (Maybe I could coach myself by asking myself all the questions I expect from them.)

My rehearsal didn’t go so well: I came unstuck pretty much straight away. Primarily what I wanted, I discovered, was to complain to someone about all the things I was feeling annoyed, frustrated, sad or hopeless about, and get a nice cup of tea and some sympathy.

This is a major downside to the life lived solo: there is no one there to listen to you rail at the manifest injustice that is your life and make you a cup of tea. On the up side, when you live alone you can complain and wallow in self pity whenever you like.

The current fashion is to be relentlessly upbeat and perky at all times. To feel anything less than super-duper positive about every aspect of your life is to have Failed with a very capital F. If, like me, you are of a melancholic disposition, this can be problematic.

In spite of this generation’s efforts to banish the darker shadows of life as if that were either possible or desirable, feeling miserable or despondent from time to time is just a part of life and it’s not something we should be trying to avoid at all costs. Attempts to avoid, ignore or deny the things that cause us pain, grief, anger and suffering may only make things worse.

In the right setting and circumstances, giving expression to those feelings can be very helpful. Sometimes, just unloading onto someone you trust and being allowed, for a few minutes, to give voice to your frustrations without being mature about it, can be just the tonic. Then it’s back on with the Big Girl Pants and normal adult behaviour resumes.

When there is no one there to listen, or no one you trust to show that side of yourself to safely, it can be difficult. I will often write it down and then destroy what I wrote because, let’s face it, it’s embarrassing seeing your lowest self in print. I’ve experimented with voice recording too: whine into your iPhone voice memo app,  play it back (excruciating but surprisingly revealing) then hit delete.

In the absence of anyone else, you may need to be your own trusted confidante. The good thing about that is you’re unlikely to blab, and if you do, you have only yourself to blame.

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