Yesterday was a crappy day for me. I found out that my car insurance had been canceled without my knowledge which put me in a very vulnerable position. What makes this worse is I found this out not from my insurance company, but from the DMV. I spent the rest of that day and today scrambling to get things straight. Then I found out that a heater broke on my property and I had to get it fixed.
When I am having a rocky start on days I am scheduled to teach, I work twice as hard to ensure that my drama never touches the mat. I think that is the bare minimum requirement of being an adult. My bad day has absolutely nothing to do with my students and I ended up having great classes last night.
But the day wasn’t done yet.
I went to do a set at a show last night and found out that one of my buddy’s flight got delayed and so we had to re-arrange the show a bit, and on top of everything, there were some would be hecklers in the crowd.
This is not the best place for me to do stand up from. I like to feel relaxed and unattached from my own regular day struggles so I can read the room better. But my mind was cloudy last night. Luckily, I was able to shake it off and rise above these inconveniences and have a good set, heckle free even.
Part of what enabled me to do that is being able to sort through what are legit grievances I may be having and what is me feeling sorry for myself.
All the things I listed suck, and for once, they are entirely not my fault. But even if they were my fault, the process of untangling stress from self pity is very important.
To me, self pity is the state of believing that this roadblock is not just a one off event, but a symptom of a grand conspiracy to make your life hard. Self pity is the use of the imagination to thwart your own magic. Self pity is the grandiose over calculation of childish fear.
And no one is better at it than me.
But maybe you are good at it too. We all are. Its a human reaction. Its the emotional equivalent of sucking your thumb. We are looking to soothe ourselves when our desires and life are at cross purposes.
Its ok to be mad. Its ok to grieve. Its ok to be disappointed. But believing that this means you can’t do better, or can’t get ahead, or can’t avoid this trouble in the future, etc.. all of that is self pity. Self pity is almost always full of it.
I say all of that to say this. We as teachers, parents and coaches have to lead by example. We have to show the long dogged path of triumphing over our own negative emotions. We have to make a wordless map for our kids to follow. One that is ingrained not by outside pressure, but my simple context.
Don’t Let self pity get the best of you today, and I’ll do the same