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Ep. 105 – Leaving the Pity Party

Are you visiting the “Self-Pity Party?” In this week’s episode, Doreen and Jeff discuss how you compound your negative emotions by feeling sorry for yourself instead of doing something about it.


Doreen: Hey my friends. How are you? Alright, listen up everybody. If you are living in self-pity world after divorce, then this episode is for you. So if you are ready, let’s get started with episode number 105.

Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter.

Hey, Jeff.

Jeff: Hey, how are you?

Doreen: I’m doing good. I know you’re not feeling so good today.

Jeff: I’m doing much better than a lot of people, so that’s how I have to think about it.

Doreen: Well, but you’re here.

Jeff: I’m here.

Doreen: That’s the important thing.

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: Alright, we’ll forgive you if you’re not up to speed, but hopefully by the end of this episode you’ll be energized.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Doreen: Because we’re gonna talk about self-pity today, and you’re not feeling self-pity, you’re just physically not feeling good.

Jeff: That’s right.

Doreen: There’s a big difference. You know, people after divorce, and I did this, I talked a little bit about this subject, so if you wanna go back and listen, it’s episode number two, letting go of the victim mentality.

And for our new listeners, you’re gonna see that originally I was doing the podcast by myself. It was called, Your Amazing Divorce. Some of you may be saying what amazing in the same sentence as divorce but I called it that back then, because, you know, after practicing law for going on 30 years, what I found is that most people, and I wanna say most, like high percentage, 90 plus people, 90% plus end up being in a much better place after divorce.

Then, they’re, you know, where they were in their failing marriage. Marriages just don’t fall apart. Right? Because of nothing. They fall apart because something’s happened. And most of the time in a marriage, people just don’t give up. Right at the first incident of whatever’s going on. Right? They stay with it because I think most people, when they commit and then they say their vows, they mean it and they try.

Most people try to save their marriages, but sometimes things just, you move on, right? Sometimes things just happen whether you wanted the divorce or not. So today we wanna recognize that divorce is not a great situation, right? It’s up there and one of the most challenging things that people go through based on what the experts tell us, and we get that with that comes negative emotion that is anticipated. The issue is when you get into the self-pity pool about that. And you stay stuck there blaming other people, etc., and on. It just doesn’t serve you. So you wanna start with the definition of what self-pity is? Cause I know you did some research on this.

Jeff: Yes. I like, I love definitions and searching the Googles and they say that the definition of self-pity is, excessive self-absorbed unhappiness over one’s troubles.

Doreen: Right. I think the word excessive is important in the definition.

Jeff: And also self-absorbed.

Doreen: Yeah. Because what we’re saying is, you know, some people when feeling unhappy immediately think something’s wrong.

And what we’re suggesting is, okay, divorce, it’s recognize that you’re going to feel unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe you feel like you might need to get even some like medication so you can feel happy again or something, right? The problem with that is you don’t learn how to cope with negative emotion.

So you can become dependent on another coping mechanism. We talk in many of our episodes about buffering, right? So when I say get medicine, what I mean is, you know, we try, many of us try to get out of feeling negative. By buffering, by doing something to mask the negative emotions, right? Drinking, overeating, surfing the net.

You know, we say like binge watching tv, these types of things, right? So self-pity comes from identifying and thinking of ourselves as a victim of the divorce.

Jeff: Right. And there are some negative emotions that I think we have to have to process the divorce, but self-pity definitely isn’t one of them.

Yeah. ’cause self-pity is one of the most indulgent emotions, you know, we give into it, we feel sorry for ourselves and instead of changing what is changeable, you know, ’cause we can change it if we do want to. And we give into this bad feeling and we say, oh, I don’t feel like going to work, or I don’t feel like doing this and doing that. And giving up is failing on purpose,

Doreen: Right? Because what you do as a result of the self-pity just compounds the negativity.

Jeff: Exactly.

Doreen: If you don’t recognize it and try to move on with it. We talk about the model, using the model, which is a circumstance equals a thought. So you have a circumstance, which is the divorce.

You have a thought about it. That thought causes a feeling. The feeling that we’re talking about in today’s episode goes in that part. It’s in the feeling line, the self-pity, which then causes an action. And in many case, the action is give up. Right.

Jeff: Give up on a lot of things.

Doreen: Just give up. Just, you know, avoid those type, just blame others. You’re spending a lot of wasted time. That’s your action line. And the result is you still have the self-pity. You still have that thought about your divorce, that’s causing the feeling of self-pity, that’s causing an action that’s negative and your result is you still have the self-pity and now you’re further into the trouble, right?

Jeff: Yeah. As I said it compounds itself over and over and over again and, you know, we all know that giving up is failing on purpose,

Doreen: Right. Basically what happens is we start feeling bad about feeling bad too. Right? We we’re in that self-pity and then we start feeling bad about feeling bad.

So it’s just this ongoing like compounding situation. I might think I should, like for example, you might say, I’m just gonna take the day off. I’m just gonna, like I said, buffer or lay on the couch all day. You’re not gonna be productive when you’re in South Pity world. Right?

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: So the minute you feel yourself indulging in any kind of self-pity from the divorce, it’s important to recognize it and to shift your mind and recognize that often you make your own negative emotional experience so much worse by feeling bad about feeling bad.

Jeff: Exactly.

Doreen: Right?

Jeff: Yeah. You know, it’s really important that you have to be aware of this, you know, and ask yourself, am I feeling self-pity? And here’s my how he might know, are you not doing the things that you promised yourself you were going to do?

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: Are you not following through with actions that you are supposed to do?

Doreen: Probably they’re making a lot of excuses too.

Jeff: Yeah, a lot of excuses. And you’re not following through.

Doreen: And it’s hard for us to see these realizations in ourselves, right? It really takes courage to recognize when you’re doing this because, especially with self-pity feelings, because self-pity thrives, unclaimed helplessness.

Right, right. Like there’s nothing I can do. And you just sit around feeling sorry for yourself. And you many times, and we all know people that have been through divorce, who are in self-pity, or maybe that’s you, where they’re doing a lot of blaming. They have a lot of blame on the court system, on their ex, you know, on society, on, I don’t know, everybody else, but looking internally and there’s really nothing that comes from that. That’s good, right? That blame.

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: It’s done. It’s over. The divorce is over. Whatever happened over here in the past, you cannot change. It’s done. We call that a circumstance.

It’s a fact, right? So now the goal is to get into a better mentality and move on to the next chapter of your life, which you can make amazing. But being in the self-pity pool, you’re not gonna get there. It’s okay to stay there for a little bit, recognize it, and then move on from it. What I promise you, you can do about it is change the way you are thinking about it. Because self-pity is really just whining and complaining,

Jeff: Right? And you can, you can, you have the choice whether you’re gonna whine and complain, or you’re gonna take a positive action for yourself.

Doreen: Right. Because you can feel sorry for yourself and indulge in that self-pity. But you can also at the same time, take effective action to do something different. Let to get out of the mentality.

Jeff: Right. Think about this. It feels terrible when someone feels sorry for you.

Doreen: True.

Jeff: Correct.

Doreen: True. Nobody wants that. Right? Like maybe. Okay. Maybe a little bit like you’re not feeling well today, Jeff, right?

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: Physically you’re not feeling well. I mean, I feel bad about that.

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: That’s, you know, and I feel bad that you’re feeling bad. But you don’t, you’re like, I’m okay. Right. You don’t even like Right.

Jeff: But what I meant was I feel bad that you feel bad for me.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: But yet it’s okay for me to feel bad about me.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: You know, so that’s, that’s how self-pity kind of falls in investors.

Doreen: And I also wanna suggest that it’s not fun to be around people who indulge in self-pity. We all know that, you know, I have to deal with this a lot with my divorce clients because they indulge in a lot of self-pity.

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: Now, I try as a coach to get them to move past that, but when I have my lawyer hat on, I recognize that this is just part of the process, right?

We talk about the stages of divorce but it never serves anyone. It never serves the process. It never serves helping them. Right?

Jeff: Yeah. It’s actually fuel for complaining, excuse making and whining.

Doreen: Yeah. It’s not a great place to be and we all recognize when other people are feeling sorry for themselves.

There’s not a lot you can say about it. You almost feel like helpless when you hear it. Right?

Jeff: Right.

Doreen: So if you’re someone that feels sorry for yourself and you’re creating a lot of emotion around this kind of thinking, like we said, you have to change your thinking and the way you view yourself. You know, and how do you do this, right? The question is, how do you do this?

Jeff: Well, what you do is instead of thinking that someone or something

Doreen: Like the divorce.

Jeff: Yeah. She give you more or you have to start owning that everything you have is your own thoughts, your own creation. No matter what happens in the divorce, when no matter what happens after the divorce or even in the world today, it’s supposed to be happening. It’s happening for a reason.

Doreen: It’s very hard for people, for many people to, to grasp that concept. Right. That things that are happening that are negative are supposed to be happening. Unfortunately, although social media and you know, advertising tries to tell us that we’re supposed to be happy all the time. And that the world is all full of what rainbows and daisies and unicorns we all know that this is not the fact.

Jeff: It’s not the normal.

Doreen: I mean, this is not life, right? We wouldn’t even have an understanding of happiness and fulfillment and love and all those wonderful feelings, excitement if we didn’t have the contrast of negative in our life.

Jeff: Well, that’s why we use the term failing forward so many times because when you fail, you’re actually making progress, but you don’t really realize it until you’ve made the progress and you’re successful. You know, hindsight, it’s almost like the armchair quarterback. It’s easy to look at the past and say, yeah, that that negativity and that bad times I went through, all paid off because here I am today.

Doreen: Right? And so recognizing that the divorce, I mean, think about it, if the divorce rate is somewhere between, I haven’t looked recently, but it actually went down to after Covid. Did you know that?

Jeff: I thought it would go up when people were se sequestered together.

Doreen: I know I have to go look at the Googles again on that, but you know, let’s just say, I’m gonna just take a number. Please don’t hold me to it, but you know, anywhere between, it depends on what state you’re in 30 to 50%. Okay. Of the marriages fail depending on where you live. And there’s all kinds of the age you are and whether your children are home or they, you’re an empty nester, all these types of factors, right?

And you could break it down even further. It’s very interesting for me to look at it. But if divorce is just one of those things that happens to a lot of people, let’s just all agree on that. Right. The question is, for the listener who’s indulging in self-pity is, do I stay stuck in that with that negative that happens to a lot of people, you know, or do I just own it as part of what happened and was for some reason that I don’t really understand right now?

Maybe it was supposed to happen and then just accept it and move on. You know, I just spoke to one of my clients today who was indulging. She just called me just to check in, right? Which was really nice. I happened to see her number on my phone. I was like, oh, it’s so great that she’s calling me.

So I picked up, but I thought immediately I thought there was something wrong. You know why she called me?

Jeff: Why?

Doreen: To tell me she’s getting married.

Jeff: Oh, that’s amazing.

Doreen: And she so happy and she called me to thank me because I helped her work through obviously the legal part of the divorce. Then we coached together and she was in a really bad place and she goes, but for the fact that I went through that divorce, I wouldn’t be getting married now.

I met the man of my dreams. He’s amazing. We’ve been dating for six months and we’re getting married and would you come to my wedding? And I was like, see what I’m saying? Like it just, you got it. You move on.

Jeff: And I almost thought that for, I had a thought right now that maybe the divorce that didn’t work is going to make her a much better wife on the second divorce.

Doreen: Well, but the divorce.

Jeff: Because she learned a lot.

Doreen: She didn’t get divorced from the first husband. Okay. She would’ve never had the opportunity to meet the man she’s marrying now, who she tells me is like the most amazing love of her life, and she’s so happy.

Jeff: But maybe she recognizes that because of the negativity she went through in her past divorce.

Doreen: Exactly. Right. She had to go there. I hear what you’re saying. She had to go there to a dark place, indulge in some self-pity and negative, and we worked all past that to now be appreciative of this new person in this new life that she’s going to have.

Jeff: Yeah. And I bet she’ll be a much a better wife, a better if she has kids with him, better mother, I mean, people learn, they improve,

Doreen: Right? Because you appreciate, ’cause from the negativity. You know, you recognize that you learn, you grow, and you recognize that, for example, maybe she went into her marriage thinking everything’s supposed to be hunky dory and perfect, right?

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: And we all know that’s not the case and that maybe she has a little more realistic understanding of relationships and what it takes and that people come with who they are and they don’t change and all this kind of stuff. Right? But, and then trying hard things, you know, going and trying hard things is part of the way I think people can start to get out of self-pity.

Having goals, goal setting. Even when you’re indulging in some self-pity, like start to think about what your life can look like. Right?

Jeff: Right. And thinking, talking about indulging in hard things. You know, our daughter Megan, is going off to Auburn to start vet school.

Doreen: Yay. Well, she’s already there.

Jeff: Well, she’s there.

Doreen: Yay. She’s already started. Just started.

Jeff She was a little nervous and we talked a little bit about it, and she was telling me how, you know, It’s gonna be hard. It’s not gonna be easy. No. I’m gonna have to work hard and everything, but then she’s, she’s the bring it on type of person.

She definitely does not go into the self-pity mode and feel sorry for herself and say, oh, this is gonna be hard. She has that bring it on mentality.

Doreen: She does, but again, it’s because of her past experiences. Right?

Jeff: Exactly.

Doreen: She was a volleyball player and there was a lot of ups and downs in volleyball. A D one volleyball player, you know, she got injured, blew out her knee, twisted her ankle, broke a finger. So all these things that just made her stronger and have more character. She already went through college.

Jeff: Yeah. I mean, she could have easily had that self-pity for, I couldn’t finish the season the way I wanted to finish the season, but she didn’t do that.

Doreen: So she understands that in life you’re going to go through challenges and she probably is more able to say, Hey, bring it on. Right?

Jeff: Right. Exactly.

Doreen: Yeah. The point being that life is, like we said, it’s a balance of good and bad. The bad, like the divorce will help you to appreciate the better, like my client who’s getting married, right?

And so let’s talk about the types of thoughts that people out there might be having and the model so that maybe we can help them to recognize. And recognizing how to get past this, right?

Jeff: Yeah. Well let’s first talk about the model a little bit. You know, we have a circumstance and could be,

Doreen: Which is the divorce

Jeff: It be the divorce, and your thoughts. And I want to talk about the thoughts for a second cause probably that’s the most important part of the model, because that’s the one thing that you can control or your thoughts,

Doreen: Right? True.

Jeff: So you go ahead.

Doreen: You can’t control the circumstance, which is the divorce.

Jeff: That’s a fact.

Doreen: Even though you think that you can like, that’s where the self-pity, if he wouldn’t have done this, if she was only, that this divorce wouldn’t have happened, but it already happened.

Right. So let’s just presume that that’s the case or you’re in the middle of the divorce. That’s a circumstance. Right. The thought is where the self-pity comes in.

Jeff: Yeah. Doesn’t matter what your thinking is, the divorce happened.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: You can’t change that.

Doreen: Thoughts that might lead to self-pity might be things like.

Jeff: Could it be why did my wife cheat on me? Or why was my husband so abusive? You know, maybe I deserve better than that, you know? Right. He’s got all the money. I don’t have anything. Right. You know, there’s so many things

Doreen: He’ll be fine. He’s got a new girlfriend. I’m all alone. Yeah. You know, or things like when it comes to children, you might be thinking things like, the children don’t deserve this.

That’s really, I know it sounds kind to your children, but it’s really self-pity. Right?

Jeff: Right. Yeah.

Doreen: So you really need to be aware of your thoughts and you wanted to explain more about why with the model.

Jeff: Well, cause what happens is your thoughts will create your feelings.

Doreen: Which is self-pity here. Yeah.

Jeff: And that’s the self-pity here is definitely a feeling that you’re having and the only way to change those feelings are changing your thoughts first. What happens after the feelings is you have some kind of action.

Doreen: Right. And we talked today about many times when people are in self-pity, they don’t take action.

Jeff: Yeah. That’s an inaction.

Doreen: Right. They just end up indulging in other things.

Jeff: Right. Right.

Doreen: So, like that bottle of Chardonnay

Jeff: Yes, yes.

Doreen: Or that whole bag of air of Oreo cookies.

Jeff: Or it could be worse. It could be, you know, too much drinking drugs.

Doreen: Well, the whole bottle of chardonnay was probably too much drinking.

Jeff: Right? Well, exactly.

Doreen: I mean, maybe I’m not judging.

Jeff: Right. But what happens from those actions are your results in your life.

Doreen: Right. And today, you got self-pity and bad results, like a hangover the next day.

Jeff: Right

Doreen: Right. Or you’ve been trying to lose weight and you just stayed a whole bag of Oreos and you’re like, I’m not gonna lose weight.

Jeff: And sometimes your results are the same as your circumstances. You know, you’re still divorced.

Doreen: Exactly.

Jeff: So nothing has changed.

Doreen: Exactly. So now that’s what we’re trying to explain is that you’re compounding the negatives.

Jeff: Right. So how do we change?

Doreen: How do we change?

Jeff: Change your thoughts.

Doreen: You gotta, you know, one step at a time, right?

Jeff: Yeah. How to eat an elephant?

Doreen: The first thing is you recognize it, not the elephant, but changing your, how do you change your thoughts? The first thing is you recognize it. So hopefully this podcast, this episode, you now will recognize these types of thinking. You know, that are not serving you that you’re in the self-pity.

Cause like I said, a lot of people don’t recognize it. They just go through their day and at the end of the day they’re feeling, they don’t even know what they’re feeling. They just not feeling good.

Jeff: You started the episode off with something very important. Awareness is key. Key awareness is the most important thing.

Doreen: Yes. Because then you have the power to change it, and we do have control over our thoughts. The first thing is recognize it. The second thing is to start rethinking the thoughts. We call it an unintentional model, which is your unintentional thought. It just happens, right? You wake up and you’re saying, I don’t know why this divorce happened.

I’m in a really bad place. He or she did this to me. Okay. That just happening. Like it’s, you’re just going about your day and you’re just having this, recognizing that. Now what do you do with that? Now you start to think on purpose and have an intentional model, which is you have to dig deep and think.

Did you really wanna be married to this man or this woman any longer? You know, what are my opportunities in the future? Now I get to do X, Y, Z that I couldn’t do before. I have more free time. I get to watch what I want on tv. I get to spend more time with my friends. I get to pursue that career that I always wanted, that he or she never wanted me to do.

Jeff: Right? And sometimes you can start with the result that you want.

Doreen: Oh, I love that.

Jeff: And work your way backwards. Well, what kind of feeling am I gonna have to have? What kind of actions am I gonna have to take? To have those actions, how am I gonna feel? Right. So, what do I have to do to feel that way.

Doreen: Yeah, we talked about this. Right now we’re taking a course on how to use your beautiful mind to basically create value for the world and make money, right? So, in order to do that, you have to first start just a little bit of a side note with the result in mind. How much do you wanna make?

And then what do you know and the value that you have in your mind in order to create whatever it is we’re creating. Now, part of what we give as far as value to the world is our coaching, right? We do a podcast. We don’t get paid for this podcast, but we do it because first of all, it feels good. Second of all, we know that there’s a lot of people going through divorce that need these tools, right? And hopefully you’re gonna find the value in what we do and maybe call us and become one of our special clients, you know, one-on-one coaching. So, you know, we do it be for many reasons because the end in line in of what we’re looking for, the results we want is to help people just like the people that are listening to our podcast. Right?

Jeff: Amen.

Doreen: Amen.

Jeff: Now before we go though, we never answered the question, how do eat an elephant?

Doreen: One bite at a time?

Jeff: One bite at a time.

Doreen: Yeah. I love that. We will talk. I’m sure we’ll talk in one of our episodes because we use that a lot. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, I know that you used to use that with the, your my, Jeff, you had a martial arts studio, right?

Actually two of them. And as you explained it to me, the kids would get like, I don’t know how to do that. Instead say, Wilson.

Jeff: They wanna learn the kata in one week and it takes months. So you try to explain that it takes time to perfect you. Well, it takes time to overcome, not overcome, but to accomplish large tests such as eating an elephant is such a large test. How do you do such a big thing?

Doreen: Not that we suggest anybody should eat an elephant. No, we love our elephants.

Jeff: It’s just saying because it’s a large animal. So it’s good for the story. But one bite at a time.

Doreen: Yeah. Because the kids, kids do one thing.

Jeff: One step at a time.

Doreen: I think you, I remember you saying it once when I was watching you teach one of your classes, and the kids were like all over the place. They’re like, Sensei Wilson, I don’t know how to do this. And then that fed, then the other one joined in. It was like they all got into the same mentality place and you were like, hold on class. How do you eat an elephant? And they all started laughing. What do you mean eat an elephant? And he goes, no, we don’t really mean eat an elephant.

What we mean is it’s overwhelming, just like learning the kata, right? And so if you were to eat an elephant, it would be one bite at a time, right?

Jeff: Yeah. And then what I loved more than anything was seeing the parents on the sideline laughing, nodding their hands. Yeah. ’cause it was a lesson meant to them as well.

Doreen: Oh yeah.

Jeff: How do you raise a kid?

Doreen: Yeah. We’ll have to do that and explain that when we talk about overwhelm. Yeah. Because we, especially after divorce, we’re absolutely dealing with a lot of that goes in your feeling line if you’re doing the model. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, what are the circumstance and the thought that’s causing the overwhelm? Well, very interesting stuff. Right.

Jeff: Alright.

Doreen: Alright everybody, we hope you have a most spectacular week, but remember, if it doesn’t go a hundred percent, a hundred percent spectacular, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Life is a balance of good and bad and you will get through this and the divorce.

Jeff: 50 50.

Doreen: Yep.

Jeff: Life is 50 50.

Doreen: A balance. Yep. Yeah.

Jeff: Well, anybody have a great day, everyone. We appreciate you listening.

Doreen: Alright, we’ll talk to you next week.

Jeff: Bye-Bye.

Doreen: Bye.

Jeff: You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash

Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.

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