I think I’ve been a bit of a womp-womp lately.
A person acting needlessly bummed out or negative toward everything
Synonyms: A 'Debbie Downer'
Last night my suspicions were confirmed when my husband said, "You've been unhappy about everything lately"; to which I was at first indignant but after considering the facts conceded, “Meh, I guess I can see that”.
Thanks for the reality check dear.
Sadly this is not my first time in the band of womp-womps. I’ve been here before, I know the secret handshake. Do you know it too? It's something like a wet noodle.
Grief has the ability to turn us all into womp-womps. Weeks or months after a death we find ourselves drenched in negativity, weighed down by cynicism, and exhausted by our despair. We’re not ready to shed these feelings despite subtle and not-so-subtle hints from friends and family that our seven layers of misery are making them feel sweaty (and not in a good way). Of course, it's well within our right to stay in our bubble of gloom until we’re good and ready to come out, but don't be surprised if you feel like a total killjoy in the meantime.
Fortunately, most of us manage to find our way out of the wilderness, it just takes some time. Actually, for those of us who missed survival training it may take a loooooong time because we get lost and wander, we find the path but lose it again, or we crawl into a cave and wait for someone to find us. What's the deal? Why are some of us so much less efficient at navigating the darkness?
There's no one answer - chemical makeup, coping mechanisms, life circumstances, unwashed hair tolerance levels - all these factors will affect our ability and desire to feel better. My kryptonite is one that many others share, an unwillingness to take matters into my own hands and change my thinking and/or the circumstances I have control of.
There is a theory in Personality Psychology that says people either have an internal or external locus of control. Those who have an internal locus of control believe they have control over the events in their life - they are the cause to the effect they see in the world. Those who have an external locus of control believe that life events are controlled by environmental factors which are out of their capacity to influence.
Internal: I lost because I didn't play well enough
External: I lost because the referee made bad calls.
If someone has an external locus of control, they may feel less empowered to take matters into their own hands, especially after the world just proved there are factors beyond their control that can cause them misery. They, or anyone who's been through a traumatic event for that matter, may even find themselves in a state of learned helplessness. This is when things start to feel so out of one's control they become paralyzed and don't seek out opportunities to feel better or lessen their own misery. This is not good, try not to get to this place.
This morning I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion about mindfulness and self-care. The facilitator was so sweet and accepting, all she wanted was for the audience to try. She didn't ask us to make grand sweeping changes, rather suggested we aim to accomplish one thing no matter how small. She suggested quick and easy ways to take care of your mind and body like deep breathing or journaling one sentence about gratitude daily.
Her demands were small yet my response was, "No, I don't want to". Here I am, admittedly in a total funk, acting like a bratty little three-year-old. My arms are crossed, I'm worn out and ready for a nap, and I refuse to even try. I'm not saying 'I can't' because I'm in control enough to know I can, rather I'm saying 'I don't want to'. Reality Check Number 2.
Alright, here's my resolution... I'm going to try. I'm going to start small, but I'm going to take action. For me, negativity can be a slippery slope, so I want to try and reframe my thinking to focus on the positive. I've committed to finding small things to be grateful for - one a day - and journaling them via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
I want you to try this with me, especially if you've been feeling like a womp-womp lately. Join us on social media and share what you're grateful for, even if it's something really stupid, or serious, or funny. Tag your gratitudes with #WHATSYOURGRATITUDE
Here are a few examples from me, I'm grateful the hydrangeas I thought I killed are actually blooming...
...and I'm grateful it's summer...
For more about gratitude, check out the following articles:
- Sad but Grateful: Finding Gratitude in Grief
- The ‘Yes, and…’ Approach to Gratitude
- 10 Days of Photo Gratitude
- With a Grateful Heart: Photographing Gratitude
- 12 Gratitude Tips from Around the Web: Friday Favorites
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We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: