In this mini-series, we discuss in detail what we believe to be the Seven Deadly Sins that stop Business growth in it’s tracks. You will find these lessons to be applicable in professional and personal application.
Missed the First Deadly Sin? Catch up here.
Sin No. 2: Self-pity
“Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” – John Gardner
I do not know of any human emotion more capable of disrupting your purpose and calling than self-pity. John Gardner mentions that it is an “addictive” phenomenon, one that lures victims into it’s trap and fights before letting go. How does self-pity impact us in our professional and personal lives?
- You find yourself angry at other’s success – Can we all be honest for a moment? We have all been that person, right? I remember the first time I tried starting a blog. I was so excited to express my thoughts, opinions, stories, and experiences with the world. More than one person had hinted towards wanting to read what I had to say. “Okay!” I thought, “I am going to do it!” It was a major flop. My first 6 blog posts had a total of 40 reads. Combined. I was sad. Then sadness turned to anger. I refused to read anybody else’s blog if they “weren’t going to care about mine.” Now, before you laugh and consider me a child; I was a child at this time. I was 13 years old. And yes, very immature. However, some rather powerful advice came my way during this time. Advice I did not absorb until years later. I remember venting to a neighbor who owned an online business. He was smart, successful, and very well known. “You know,” he bluntly said, “you can throw yourself a pity party and give up, or you can learn what you’re doing wrong and fix it.” I did what I feel any immature 13 year old would do, I ignored his advice and threw myself the pity party he mentioned. Years later, I wish I would have processed his advice at that time. He was right. Today, I find his advice incredible and life-changing. Not only could this make all of the difference with our businesses and professional lives, but in our personal lives as well.
- You find you are constantly comparing in a negative way – Self-pity want to find negative points of comparison between us and others, and then tell us how terrible we are because of it. Self-pity becomes a tool of measurement for where we are currently, and where we believe success is found. The distance feels overwhelming. Stop comparing, please. Negative comparison is the fuel to the self-pity vehicle. Rather, compare who we are today with who we were yesterday. What have we improved on? What is the current trajectory? If it is off-course from your goals, fix it. Measure again tomorrow, and adjust as needed.
- You turn down advice because people “shouldn’t waste their breathe” – 13 year old me would agree with this. The truth of the matter is, we do not know what we do not know. Process that. If we truly have no idea about what we do not know, we should be open to advice, criticism, and painful growth if success is our goal. Surround yourself with experts. This is much easier than you think. Buy their books. Listen to their podcasts and audiobooks. The more you learn and absorb, the more confident you will feel in your abilities to contribute to the lives of those around you. Where confidence is, self-pity cannot be. Confidence is contagious. Once the seed of confidence is planted; watch it grow. Now that you are experienced at cultivating the necessary environment for the seeds to grow and take root, your confidence will continue to increase.
Where do I start?
A few months ago, I was speaking with a friend who had an “ah ha!” moment during a conversation we were having. He was venting and I was listening. I didn’t say a word, I just listened and allowed him to work the problem out vocally. He realized he was putting large amounts of energy in self-pity. In fact, he inspired this article. After he had worked out the problem, he asked for advice on how to “correct course.”
It took a few minutes of self-reflection to realize what I do to avoid self-pity and depressing thoughts.
I will give you the same challenge I gave him, a challenge that have since planted seeds that blossomed into confidence and left no room for self-pity.
It was simple.
I told him to write down 10 good things that happened that day, every night. You will find you can train your brain to focus on the positive. The more we reflect on the positive things that happen every day, the easier they are to recognize. In fact, it plants inside of us multiple seeds I would consider good. Focusing on the positive cultivates and inspires the gardens of: gratitude, happiness, peace, joy, and contentment. In turn, each of these will produce seeds that help shape and define our character.
Positivity is contagious. Your clients and customers will be able to feel the difference along with your family and friends.
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