Have you heard of a “pity party”? Most people associate a pity party as a negative instance when someone is feeling sorry for themselves and complaining about their situation. But, sometimes life does really throw us a curve ball. Sometimes things are really, truly not good. When this happens, it is normal to feel sorry for yourself. Feelings of loss, anger, frustration, and sadness are all normal reactions to bad situations. It’s normal to grieve the loss of “normal”. When we lose a person, an ability, a job, or the freedom to do what we want to do, with whomever we want to do it with, or do it the way we want to do it, feeling sorry for ourselves is not only ok, it is healthy.
So, what if we took time to recognize those feelings? What would it look like to throw ourselves a real pity party? What similarities and what differences are there between throwing a traditional fun party versus a pity party?
Before getting to the logistics of party planning, let’s get the big picture of exactly what a pity party is. The biggest difference between a fun party and a pity party is what you do at the party. While a fun party is a time to celebrate and enjoy time together with friends and family, a pity party is not celebratory (at least in the traditional sense). It is a time to openly feel bad for yourself and your situation. It’s a time you can wallow in your grief all by yourself. You can cry. You can yell. You can punch a pillow. You can say horrible things to the walls. You can vent by writing your feelings into a journal. You can say out loud that you are angry and mad at the world. You can scream at the unfairness of it all. Obviously, at a typical party, it’s not polite to throw a temper tantrum. But at a pity party, that is the point! The right way to throw a good pity party is to let it all out.
So how do you throw a pity party? First start with the guest list. In this regard, a pity party is very different from a fun party. It is generally a solo experience. You are the only guest. You throw this party for yourself. You are the guest of honor. You are the only one that matters at this party.
Determining a good location is next. Since a pity party is a private event, select a space that is somewhere comfortable where you can be alone and uninterrupted. It could be your bedroom, the bathroom, or even in your car or somewhere outdoors. If someone is likely to hear you, pick a different spot if you can find one. If that is not possible, you may want to let anyone who may hear you know they do not need to be alarmed.
What does one wear to a pity party? Anything goes! The more comfortable the better. Wrap yourself in your favorite comfy clothes or wear nothing at all. It is up to you.
What to bring: A box of tissues, a pillow, or a journal are common things people bring to a pity party. Some people choose to bring music, food and a beverage. Again, this is your party, so there is no one to challenge you or judge you. Bring what you want!
Planning when to have a pity party can be a bit tricky. Just like fun parties, some can happen spontaneously, and some are planned in advance. Either way is fine. Pick what works for you. Some parties, such as a happy hour, are short events and wrap up after a short time. Some parties go all night. Either way is fine. Again, pick what works for you.
There is one specific similarity between a regular fun party and a pity party that is worth mentioning. Both of them must end. It is not healthy to live your life partying. At a traditional party you go, you socialize, you go home. At a pity party, you also need to “go home” and go back to your normal routine. After your pity party, go into the bathroom, wash your face, grab a glass of water, take some deep breaths, and return to your real life.
The point of the pity party is to provide an outlet for any pent-up feelings. It is healthy to recognize that these feelings exist and deserve our attention. But living within an ongoing pity party is not healthy for long-term happiness. Allowing yourself to have an occasional pity party is just one way to deal with the feelings of loss, grief, frustration or anger that come along with hard times and difficult situations. There are many other healthy ways to deal with the daily frustrations of loss and grief as well, but sometimes a pity party is exactly what you may need.