Resisting The Pity Party

Yesterday, I received news that I would not be getting a new job that I applied for a few weeks ago. It’s a job that seemed to be right in line with both my skill set, and what I could see myself doing for years to come. I would have also provided some other personal opportunities that both my wife and I were looking forward to. But that didn’t exactly work out. Cue the pity party!

… it’s easy to turn that disappointment into a downward spiral.

My initial reaction was disappointment. Understandable. However, it’s easy to turn that disappointment into a downward spiral. As someone who has often used food in the past for comfort, I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking pancakes this morning. Even though my rational mind, my education and my experience tell me that pancakes won’t make things better in the long run (worse actually), that unsupportive voice in my head says something like, “So what? You’ll feel better for a little while.”  In reality, it would only be a short distraction for what’s really going on.

What’s really going on? I spent a bit of time letting the pity party take hold. I thought I had a great interview. They said things over the past few weeks to make me believe I was at least on the short list. If they weren’t interested they should have told me. Why am I not good enough for them? I’ll never find a great job like this again. I’m a total failure!  Hello drama!

I’d say that I’m going through the five stages of grief.

The truth is, I got my hopes up and painted this perfect picture of how life would go if I got this job. My reaction to not getting the position initially was, “Well now none of that is possible.” I’d say that I’m going through the five stages of grief. Though not anywhere near the same as losing a loved one, it’s still a loss. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had in line with the different stages:

Denial – “This isn’t happening. Can I just ignore the email?”

Anger – “If they didn’t want me, why didn’t they tell me weeks ago?”

Bargaining – “Maybe if I’m really polite about not getting the position, they will realize they made a mistake and offer me the job!” (This one is probably my favorite. A bit of magical thinking.)

Depression – “I’m an idiot. Why would I think they would want me anyway? It figures they would find someone better than me for the position.”

Acceptance – “I’ve done all that I could, and I’m just not what they are looking for. What can I do to make sure that I am a better candidate if a similar opportunity presents itself? What’s my next step?”

You may be saying to yourself, “that’s not possible to go through all those stages in less than 24 hours,” and I would agree with you. As I write this piece, I’m still sliding back and forth between a bit of depression and acceptance. That’s where running has been an invaluable tool for me.

… where running has been an invaluable tool for me.

I have a regular running schedule. I run five days a week which generally include 2 days working on strength or speed, two easy run days, and a long run day. One of the things that I like about running in general is that most runs have be move through the ups and downs that I have in my life every day, but in a shorter, and controlled method. In the following description of see if you recognize any similarities with your daily life.

  • Wake up, have breakfast.
  • I look at the running workout. Sometimes I’m excited about it, sometimes dreading it, occasionally just know I should do it.
  • Get dressed, travel to where I’m going to run by foot or vehicle.
  • Start the run – the first mile usually sucks. Muscles and joints aren’t yet warmed up, and my head tells me, “I’d rather be doing anything else.”
  • Once warmed up the easy miles. Heart rate settles down, joints and muscles get warm, the pace that was difficult just a half mile back is now easy. In the groove.
  • Depending on the distance or workout intensity, there comes a point when you have used most of your fuel, you’ve gotten through the easy miles or pace, and it’s beyond this where it gets more difficult.
  • If it’s difficult long enough, that voice in your head will start to tell you to stop, that you can’t do this, that this is above your ability or that you’re going to die.
  • You back off to a more comfortable pace, or you push through with will force your body to adapt and grow stronger for another day.
  • In the end, you either did or didn’t accomplish what you set out to do. Adjust and come back for the next workout stronger and more efficient. At least that’s the goal!

Here’s how I apply that to my life. This morning I approached my easy run knowing the different spaces that I would go through on my run. I allowed myself to explore all the emotions around the disappointment in not getting the new job. And I committed to really wallowing in that self-pity during my run. That was very easy to do in the first mile when my legs didn’t feel so great. I hate this, I’m slow, it’s hot and humid, and I got screwed on that job! They should have picked me!

As I warmed up, felt my muscles relax and settled into my pace. My body feels better, my brain feels better. Though I wouldn’t describe it as a “runner’s high”, with mind and body in sync, I’m more apt to have a better outlook with thoughts like, “ok, so that didn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world. What do you do next?”  By the time I finished my run, I felt much better.

Eating pancakes really won’t make things better.

I’m sure that there are people who would describe me as a relatively happy and positive person. That is by design, that’s the person I want to be in the world. I really enjoy supporting others, it gives me a sense of satisfaction in my life. I believe in giving myself the space to feel what I need to, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time dwelling on things for which I have little or no control. Eating pancakes really won’t make things better. Take the time that you need, but resist the temptation to throw yourself a prolonged pity party!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. There is a better job out there for you, Richard.


    1. Admin says:

      I’m sure there is. Thanks Beth!


  2. Beth Franklin says:

    There’s a better job out there for you, Richard.


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