Womp-Womp Call to Action: Be Grateful

Coping with Grief / Coping with Grief : Eleanor Haley

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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:

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After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

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:

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6 Comments on "Womp-Womp Call to Action: Be Grateful"

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  1. Nathan  December 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm Reply

    Love this. I lost my mom at age 19 and I feel like a womp womp every once in a while… usually around holidays. I’m now in graduate student and conducting research for a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. I’m wondering if anyone reading this lost a parent in childhood. If so, I would love if you would contribute to my study. It is an online survey and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. If interested, cut and paste the link below or email me at NathanRGreene@gmail.com.


    Thanks for writing 🙂
    Nathan Greene

  2. PeaceSeeker09  July 28, 2014 at 12:54 am Reply

    Happy or Not :With anxiety and worry, director Wuna Wu entered into a family of three. The anxiety comes from misunderstanding; the worry comes from feeling the warmth of the family and hoping that they live well. She finally discovered that life is life, and whether happy or not, we have to go on.

  3. Beth Marshall  June 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm Reply

    Eleanor- I love the gratitude journal/photography idea, and sharing it via social media.
    After my mom’s very sudden death, it definitely took some time to get started, but journaling thankfulness helped me tremendously.
    One of my favorite thankful topics was to write about her. Even 13 years later I’ll pick up my old journal and write some more- it’s a sweet reminder of why it was so hard to lose her, and why she is still so missed. Here are a few things on my list. I’m grateful for:
    -her ridiculous/naughty sense of humor, which is alive and well through her kids and grandkids
    -how she could make moussaka and chicken & broccoli better than anybody in the world
    -how she didn’t freak out when a grand kid accidentally spilled 2 liters of coke on the carpet
    – the way she shamelessly asked the Orkin man to spray her station wagon
    – her three steps to prepare for house guests w/out losing your mind- 1)dim the lights, 2) cover dust with potted plants, and 3)when all else fails give the guests another adult beverage. 🙂 I still follow her timeless advice.
    The list will never end. I’m smiling through a tear right now.
    Thanks for the great post.

    • Eleanor  June 29, 2013 at 11:51 am Reply


      Your mother sounds totally amazing and kind of like my hero =) I love the idea of journaling gratitude/thankfulness about the person you lost, it’s such a great way to remember and memorialize someone. This seems like it would be good to do with other family too…I’m sure it would end in tears and laughter. Thank you so much for sharing!


  4. Lisa Hartley  June 28, 2013 at 11:44 am Reply

    I slide into the womp-womps pretty fast. My husband was ready to leave the marriage I was so negative.
    Thing is, I don’t recognize it. Like you said, I’m exhausted, grumpy and I don’t want to try anything.
    Arms crossed like a little girl. I know what helps me, BUT sometimes I just want to sleep through it all.
    Gonna head to my yoga mat today. That helps!
    Love reading your posts. I’m a photographer too.

    • Eleanor  June 29, 2013 at 11:47 am Reply


      If you know what helps you are in a better place than many! Do you find that photography helps at all? I know sometimes when I completely feel like crap I don’t even want to look at a camera, but other times I feel it helps a lot. I’m glad you liked the post!


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