{#TransparentTuesdays} GLOOM AND DOOM.

Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉

I am a firm believer in pity-parties.

Not because I think there is anything so particularly great about sitting around feeling sorry for yourself exactly, but rather because throwing yourself a pity party is a way of practicing self-acceptance and self-love when you’re feeling utterly lousy.

This might seem kind of weird and counter-intuitive, and go against all the stuff I say about relentlessly pursuing joy and pleasure, and taking responsibility for creating your biggest, juiciest possible life. But I promise you, it’s not.

Most people have been taught to judge certain experiences and emotions as “good,” and others as “bad.” If this was objectively true, I would have nothing further to say about it. But it’s not objectively true. Pain and fear and all the other stuff that’s uncomfortable and difficult to tolerate all have a purpose; allowing them to show up fully makes it much more likely that they’ll do their job quickly and then disappear when they’re not longer needed.

Resisting certain feelings and experiences often kicks in our ironic monitoring process, and makes it more likely for that “negative” thing to keep showing up more and more. (Think about how badly you want a donut the moment you decide “I can’t eat a donut ever again.” That’s the ironic monitoring process at work right there.)

This is why I throw myself elaborate, spectacular pity parties.

Typically I throw these gloriously glum parties after a certain period of time has gone by in which I’ve been feeling down in the dumps and trying to “solve” it. Like maybe on Wednesday afternoon I notice I feel down, and I have a snack in case it’s my blood sugar crashing. Then Wednesday night I’m still in a foul mood so I make plans to meet a close friend for a drink and good conversation. Which is great, but I still wake up Thursday morning feeling irritable so I journal and meditate for a while before trudging through work still feeling uninspired and uncreative.

Then I decide to take Thursday afternoon off in case I’m just getting burnt out, choosing instead to read and watch netflix and nap. BUT ON FRIDAY MORNING I’M STILL FEELING GLOOMY.

Well, cool. Now it’s time to break out the big guns. I’ve tried “solving” it, now it’s time to celebrate it.

So I throw myself a proper pity party.

I’ve been doing this pity-party ritual for so many years, that I can’t tell you exactly when it began, but I know that I used to go all-out in the real world. I would paint my fingernails black, put on heavy black eye-liner, rent a super depressing movie, and text my friends to inform them that I was having a pity party and that I would welcome their company only if they promised to be properly despondent with me.

There is always a “no cheering up” rule at my pity parties, you see. The whole point is that we are celebrating the misery, not trying to chase it away.

Eventually my pity-parties shifted to take place mostly in my own mind, where I continued to celebrate my own melancholy in elaborate detail.

My go-to visualization is one in which I invite all my friends over and they sit around looking depressed, wearing black paper party hats, under a big banner that says “HOORAY EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE.” I imagine a drab black cake, and party games like “why bother pin the tail anywhere?” and “musical chairs of misery.”

It’s the kind of party Daria would feel comfortable attending. I often text my friends to describe the morose event happening on my couch, and invite them to share some anguish if they feel so inclined.

The funny thing is that as soon as I give myself permission to be completely fucking miserable, I feel better almost immediately.

It’s like as soon as my misery feels welcome, it ceases to terrorize me. It stops being a tantrum-throwing problem to solve, and instead becomes the guest of honor at a hilariously unfun party. (Plus the image of my depressing party always tickles me and makes me smile.)

When I was feeling horribly sad about moving out of NYC over a year ago, I got invited to a costume-optional daybreaker party, and I used it as an excuse to bring my pity party out into the open. Dancing in a club (sober) at 7am, surrounded by hundred of gorgeous humans doing the same, while dressed in fully gothic getup, I felt like I was honoring the shit out of my dark material. I felt like I was saying: I see you, giant sadness. You’re welcome here. I left that party cleansed; a different person, ready to move forward and let go.

I’m sharing this with you in part because I found myself in the position of needing to throw myself a spectacular pity party last week. Post-TEDx talk, my emotions went on a roller coaster and I felt like I just… couldn’t… deal. After several different attempts to deal better (aka “become more stable and calm”), I realized that what I really wanted was to celebrate the fact that I was overwhelmed. The moment I gave myself permission to enjoy my own suffering, I felt so much better.

Despite being a bit tongue-in-cheek about this gloomy little ritual of mine, it’s actually quite powerful.

Due to the fact that whatever we resist and repress shows up more often or more intensely, learning how to welcome our so-called “negative” feelings and experiences with warmth and compassion actually allows that feeling/experience to shift and recede. (And what’s warmer than throwing someone a party, right?!)

As counter-intuitive as it might seem, celebrating the fact that you feel unhappy can actually make you feel… happy.

What parts of your dark material have you been rejecting lately? Can you welcome it, honor it, or even *gasp* throw it a proverbial party? Can you invite your darkest material in, hand it a slice of depressing cake, and take some pleasure in celebrating how terrible everything is?

I want to hear about it. Tell me about your own dark rituals, or about what feeling/experience you struggle to welcome. Me and a community of other kickass women want to hear from you over at Women Who Empower Other Women, Unite!

Yours in gloriously gloom,

<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.

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