When I was growing up my father kept a ledger in his head of what I cost: school, crooked teeth, music lessons, college, etc. It drove me nuts as the numbers mounted over the years, and I worried that he might be resentful or think I wasn’t worth it. For me, his cost counting (and unfortunate habit of telling me) had a personal and emotional impact he never intended. For years, I worried about how I would pay him back. My Dad, however, was not trying to hurt me by talking about money. The truth was he loved his ledger. He lived by numbers and counted all the costs in his life and business exactly the way he counted mine. He had come from a very poor family. Counting pennies was the way they had survived. Being able to earn a living meant a great deal to him. His true wish when he talked to me about money was simply to be appreciated, and not taken for granted.
Did I ever understand him? Unfortunately, I was a child, not a mind reader. He taught me to think about money, not appreciation or gratitude. I’m sure he thought I was ungrateful. Many parents think their children are ungrateful when their children simply don’t know what’s needed. Take The Blame Game Quiz
Feeling Unappreciated Hurts
At the pity party, the caretakers and providers in the family so often feel taken for granted, and unappreciated. It’s a painful feeling. Those constant brooders about not being appreciated enough may not see themselves as accountants, but they’re doing the same thing my dad did with money. They have a list that gets longer and longer as the years go by and they keep adding up all the things they do and have done for others without getting back what they deserve.
Feeling Shortchanged Hurts Too
The pity party is by no means limited to providers. Those being cared for often feel they’re not getting what they really deserve either, that they’re not actually cared for or loved enough for a complete rescue that would make them all right and whole. The pity party is not limited to family and friends and loved ones. There are thousands at the party who have few resources or loved ones, may even lack jobs and homes, and feel isolated and singled out for catastrophic results that may keep on happening over and over. There are many forms of feeling alone, vulnerable and at risk both emotionally and literally.
The pity party is certainly not defined by those who have resources and those who don’t. Feeling sorry for oneself from time to time is human. I’m alone. It’s my birthday; I have no one to celebrate me. I wrote a book; it’s been rejected by every publisher in the free world. I’m not as attractive or smart as I wish I were. Others are far more successful. I keep getting arrested; it’s so unfair. There are millions or reasons to feel badly about something. It’s completely normal. But when woe is me is the default feeling, it’s become a bad habit that prevents forward motion, release from unhappiness, and the ability to receive help and love from others.
Feeling sorry for oneself pushes people away. It’s a fact. Others don’t want to hear about it. That’s the reason the happy song has become such a world sensation. Even if you feel horrible, when you hear that song, happiness tends to take over. Just the word happiness can make the feeling happen. Smiling works that magic, too. So leave the accounting to the money-minded and exit the pity party with a song.