#63. How To Get Out of Birthday Pity Parties and Shame Spirals – FRIDAY REFLECTIONS

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Welcome to this episode of Friday Reflections by Dad.Work!

Every Friday I share the best of what we have been doing in the Dad.Work community, to provide perspective, new ideas, and motivation for you to continue on your journey to becoming the best man, partner, and father you can be.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been wallowing in birthday pity parties and shame spirals. On one hand, I wanted to be seen and celebrated, but on the other hand, I was critical of myself for wanting this.

Last Sunday was my birthday and I decided to invite family and friends over to help me celebrate. I remember the night prior to my birthday feeling disgusted for taking up space and “forcing” people to come celebrate my birthday but in the end, thanks to the men in my men’s group, my wife, kids, and family, my birthday was incredible, and there was a big lesson for me to learn.

If you have all these feelings like, “What if no one came? And what if it didn’t work out? Or what if people were like, oh, you know what, I actually don’t really like you all that much…”

Then this episode is for you!

We’ll talk about:

  • Why it’s important to do mindfulness work and then return to introspection.
  • Guiding yourself into a more loving compassionate relationship with yourself instead of always condemning yourself
  • Acknowledging your pity and shame and try to figure out why your’re feeling that way
  • Allowing oneself to experience and express all of your emotions rather than erecting a barrier out of fear of being harmed
  • Learning to take up space because you, as well as everyone else in your life, are significant.

Mentioned on this episode:

#48. Building Relationships and Finding Friends as a Dad – FRIDAY REFLECTIONS

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. This is episode number 63. How to get out of birthday pity parties and shame spirals. This is a Friday reflections episode where I go into what's real in my life and share tips, tools, tactics, practices, the work, I'm doing the healing, I'm doing my journey in the hopes that you gain something out of hearing what's real, and see what it's like to be at this point in my journey and learn how you can best support yourself as you continue to grow and heal. And I want to bring this up today because it was my birthday earlier in the week on Sunday. And, man, the last two years have been atrocious. For me, I have gone deep into self pity shame spirals on my birthday, because there's been this competing interest of on the one hand, I really, really want people to notice and celebrate me. And on the other hand, I don't want to take up any space. I don't want to tell people, it's my birthday. I don't ask for anything. And so of course, I never get anything. And then I just feel terrible. I feel terrible, because I didn't get anything. And then I feel terrible for wanting to take up the space to ask for anything in the first place. This internal voice in my head says I am disgusting for wanting to take up space for asking for support. And it's just a terrible self pity party and the shame spiral. And so this year, especially after I talked about on episode number 48, the Friday reflections podcast, talking about getting support and finding friendship, I was like, I'm gonna do this, you're differently. I'm gonna plan a birthday party, I'm gonna invite people for the first time in my adult life, since I was a kid, really celebrate with friends. And I did. And it was wonderful. But the night before I started going back into this pity party. And I want to share with you in this episode, how I dealt with that, what it felt like, why I think that happened. And then the tools and the practices, I used to get through it in like an hour instead of days and days and days of just feeling terrible. So hopefully you can learn something from this. Hopefully, it's useful. And if it is useful, I would love if you just went down to the Apple podcasts app, scroll down to the Dad.Work podcast left a quick rating and or review, it takes literally five seconds, do a rating and like 25 seconds, leave a review, I would really, really appreciate that. Because if you have found even a little bit of good and benefit in your life in this, pay it forward by sharing this with more men, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by leaving a review. It does help on the algorithms to show up in more people's podcast apps when they search for it. So I'd really appreciate if you just took five to 35 seconds to do that. Thank you so much. Let's get into this episode number 63. How to get out of birthday pity parties and shame spirals, the Dad.Work podcast. Here we go.

Hey, dads, we're gonna talk today about my birthday. And there are some lessons in here, which is why I'm telling you not because I need and want your support and your birthday wishes. Although of course, you can send this to me and I will enjoy them all the same. But I wanted to share this because the last two years on my birthday have been some of the worst days over the last I don't even know, decade perhaps and this is the strangest thing, because I've had bad days, as we all have. And I've had some really bad days over the course of my journey as a dad. But the last two birthdays, I have fallen into deep pity parties and shame spirals. And it's so weird. And I thought I was alone in this before I brought it up in men's group. And I was like Does anybody else have like this weird self pity thing on your birthday, where you just kind of want support, you don't know how to get it you feel bad for asking for support. And something like half the guys raise their hand. And they said they shared this and I was like, Oh, I wonder what that is. And so the last couple years, I went into this deep spiral. And what it was, was this inability for the two things in my head to match up on the one hand, yes, I want support. I want to be noticed I want to be celebrated. But on the other hand, I have this deep resistance to doing anything that would ask for that support. Because I would talk to myself very negatively. I would you know you're an idiot for wanting this. It's weak and pathetic and disgusting for wanting to take up space. How dare you. But the other half was like, Man, I

just want someone to notice. Like I removed my birthday from Facebook so people wouldn't notice because I felt so bad. Taking up people's space as though like sending a quick birthday message was overwhelming for people. And this was actually this relates a lot to episode number 48 on the Dad.Work podcast on a Friday reflection I made about building relationships and finding friends where I realized that I wasn't letting any of the men in my men's group hold me. I wasn't allowing them to support me because I was showing up as though I was so good. I had all my stuff in order. I was giving off this era of perfectionism which I struggled with a lot in the past. But it really was I was holding the burden of caring for me for for them. I wasn't allowing them to care for because my fear was, well, if I, if I let them hold that burden, like nobody's gonna want to, so if I support them, and I don't really like, make them or let them support me, then like, maybe they like me because I'm not being too burdensome on them. And so this was ridiculous I talked about in episode number 48, it turns out that to make friends and connections, you have to be super vulnerable. And you have to let yourself be held, and you have to let other people hold you and support you. Because that's apparently what friendship is like. And this was so new for me. So I highly recommend going to check out number 48 of this podcast if that resonates with you. But anyway, like part of this journey for me was going okay, why were the last two years so hard? And I got it intellectually, that okay, I want the one thing but I can't give it to my to myself. So the question became like, Why? Why can't I give it to myself? And I'm gonna get into that today. So this year, having just gone through this recent asking for support this recent asking for relationship and friendships, I committed to making this birthday different. I didn't want to go into my daily Oh, journal, which is an app I've used for the last I think I'm on like, 1500 days, streak, which, you know, it's, it's really worked for me, you know, it doesn't matter how many days in a row, you do it, but it's just to show you how well it's worked for me that I do it every single day and have for years now. I look back at the birthday entries the last couple years, and they're just atrocious. Man, I was hating on myself. And so I was like, hey, this year, opened myself up to support I'm doing this, I want to make friends. I'm gonna plan a birthday party for myself. And I'm just going to go for I'm not going to think about it. And so I invited some friends. And my wife invited a couple of her friends who we've hung out before as well. And that was that I was like, Hey, you guys, bring us aside, we'll barbecue. And you know, we'll just do a bit of a potluck. And that was so scary. Because like, what if no one came? And what if it didn't work out? Or what if people were like, oh, you know what, I actually don't really like you all that much. That was the fear, I was feeling and all of this. And so my intention this year was simply to make it good. But I had to risk that nobody would come and I might feel dominant all the rest. So things were going well. Because I was in this headspace of support and reaching out and a bunch of the guys from men's group were making a huge effort to support me and relate to me because I had asked for this and I was building relationships. And I was feeling great. And I was really excited that wow, you know, we're actually gonna be able to do this. And my two oldest boys. Were both off with different sets of grandparents. We just had the youngest. And so we were very unburdened, if you will by children, we had this space. And we're looking forward to this. But the night before, man, it was late. And suddenly, I felt all of the old shame and self pity come back. It's like, oh, no, what have I done? I can't believe I invited people. And I was like, I went down to this dark hole. And it was really bad. I haven't gotten there in a long time. Well, in fact, since my last birthday, the self pity party I felt this like darkening. And this grayness overtaken me, this thing inside me, was telling me to curl up into a little ball, and hurl myself mentally down this well, of self pity and shame, because how dare I take up so much space? I was starting to berate myself, my internal dialogue was like, You are disgusting for wanting to be wanted, like, it is so disgusting that you would take up space and ask people to care for you. Ask people to help you to put yourself out there to imagine that people

would actually want to take time out of their schedules to be with you. And even if they say they do, they're going to want you to owe them afterwards. Because what a sacrifice it is for them to spend time with you. Who do you think you are people don't give a shit about you. They don't actually care. And this overwhelming feeling of disgust overwhelmed me. And so I really didn't want to go there. And so I was at least conscious of what was happening. And that's part of doing this work for long enough for developing the mental skills, the emotional skills, the mindfulness to sit with the discomfort I knew, even though it was quite overwhelming, that this wasn't what I wanted. And I had to dig deep in order to figure out what tools we're going to bring me out of this because one of the hardest things is finding those tools when the voice inside is like Don't you dare Don't you dare trying to feel better. You are so shitty, and we're going to make sure you suffer for your failure. And it's like, Where's this coming from? You know, and I'm sure that if you're listening, you've had things like this come up before and like what do you do to get out of it? And so I'm going to walk you through that because I think it's very valuable and it goes to show that This work has sticking power, it's durable, it allows you to navigate things like this when they come up. So it's not as though I don't suffer or get angry or you know, have crappy days now and then. But typically, the peak of those is like 10% of what they used to the duration of those is like five or 10% of what they used to be. And I have the tools to navigate and then heal from that. And so that's why I talk so much about this work, the mindfulness work, starting with a daily practice where you breathe, meditate journal, exercise, do yoga, do something, and then keep coming back to introspection, to thinking about yourself to self awareness to doing the work in a group with other men, is because this stuff works. And, and here's why. So as I was in this disgust, place with myself, this voice inside me was like, Don't you dare This is revolting to want to take up so much space, I was able to remember a couple of techniques in the middle of it with the help of my wife. And so first of all, thankfully, she was there with me. And I simply asked her to be with me, not to say much, just to be present, and to place a hand on me. And it's helpful to have a hand on your chest. I think we held hands through this for a long time. And I just wanted that external support so that I could help to tether myself to someone who didn't believe the things that were going on in my head. And I listened to what was going on, I felt into what was going on.

I tried a couple of techniques that were okay, they sort of helped me a little bit. One of them was this sort of self love exercise with my body. So I've talked about this in the past, but one of the things that was recommended to me when I asked about you know, self love practices, how can I start to actually love myself and be compassionate for myself was this exercise that you can do in the shower every day, where you use your hands, open palms to sort of lightly slap your body. And I don't mean like painful slap, just just tapping, patting, almost not a slap padding. And so you tap your head, and you say, This is my head, you tap your face, and you say, This is my face, I love my face, tap your shoulders, tap your arms. These are my arms, I love my arms, this is my chest, I love my stomach, I love my legs. And you're sort of using this physical touch, and words of affirmation to guide yourself into a more loving, compassionate relationship with yourself. And so I actually tried doing this almost mentally and just doing a body scan much like you do in a lot of meditations, scanning down, okay, I love my head. Yes, I love my chest, I'm grateful love my heart. I did this. And then it took a bit of the edge off. And then I moved on, I don't know, you know, this is one of the again, the reasons why we do this long term. And we keep doing the work, even though you might think that you're so called healed or you're better you keep doing the work, because when you need it, you'll be able to find it. And so this practice came to me that I've used before. And I usually use this with anger. But I use it with this guilt and self pity and the shame the other day. And I call it the round table method. Because, for example, when you're angry, or when I'm angry, I feel read inside and like this anger, it's just an emotion, but it's taking up my entire internal being. And when I invite it to sit at this metaphorical internal emotional round table with all my other feelings, then I can ask it, hey, we're here for you. Why don't you tell us what's going on? How can we help. And it diffuses the whole body anger. And so I was able to utilize that with his guilt and the shame and this pity. I imagined a round table. And actually, you know, before I go into this process, I'm going to back up just a bit because part of this is important to mention here. One of the other practices that I did was I called on my Power team. And this is another self love practice, you can develop a team of people or animals inside your head, who are only compassionate and loving to you, whom you can call on in difficult times. And so my Power team developed through meditation and a lot of breathwork has been a tiger. Don't ask me why it's just what came up to me a tiger who's there for me fighting for me knowing that I'm never alone and the most compassionate version of myself. So if you stripped out everything about me, except for my pure compassion, this sort of human figure walks alongside me when I call on my Power team and using these people in this animal, this Power team. I sat down at this roundtable and that will come back to the process. And so in sitting down at this roundtable, I invited the shame and the pity to come sit with me. And I just said welcome. I welcome this feeling. They said how can we help? What do you have to tell me today? What can I learn from you? And much like anger it's sort of took all of the energy from the outside of my body and placed it squarely in this table because when it is acknowledged It dissipates so much of the power. Hey, I see you. Sounds like you're not having a good time right now. Welcome. What do you here to tell me? What can I learn from you? What do you need right now? How can we help and I was able to do this because my wife was there, I had been thinking about this, I was doing the self love practice to try to get out of it, I had this Power team with me. And I remembered doing this before, which is why we practice because when push comes to shove, and you need these tools, you can call on them. And so immediately, the feeling in my body diffused, it just went way, way down. And it turns out, that this guilt in this pity party just said, bro, I'm trying to protect you. That's all. And so it wasn't about, you know, I hated myself, it wasn't about anything negative, it was actually an ego defense mechanism, likely created in childhood to keep me safe. And man, when I realized that, I had to process it in which for me meant I had to cry. I cried through this, this realization that, you know, part of my ego is there to protect me against pain. I've wrote I've written about this before on the Dad.Work blog, that I think it's called the ego as a carpenter or something like that. And how ego self defense mechanisms are actually some of the first self love practices we

give ourselves. Because our ego creates these safety mechanisms, so that we don't go into situations that we have been proven or hurtful. And so in this case, when I was able to sit with it, and process it and cry about it, I ended up going like, okay, that makes sense. But like, wonder why that ego mechanism existed, that self defense mechanism is existed. And what I realized was that one of my I've talked about this before, one of my so called core wounds is abandonment. And feeling as though I always had to be the rock for everyone. This was for my family of origin, everyone in my family, I just, I felt the need, whether it was right or not, I was my perception was I had to hold the space, and the emotions for everyone else. And if I had big feelings or emotions, it would cause others to have even bigger feelings. And so they couldn't handle my emotions. So I had to go about handling theirs. And I learned to keep those emotions walled off, I learned not to feel them, I learned not to express them, I learned it wasn't safe. But I learned that it was I was really good at, you know, being that for other people, not making other people upset, not sort of taking up too much space, being smaller in the background being perfect, making sure I had straight A's in school so that I wouldn't cause stress in anyone else's life. And whether this was right or not, it was my perception. So there's the trauma that was formed of I needed to be perfect, I needed to take up no space, I could never expect anything of anyone. And so of course, it makes sense that if I am about to do something that makes me take up space, which is have a birthday party, if I am going to do something that I can't control, if I'm going to do something that puts the onus on other people to care for me and not vice versa. Of course, I'm going to have a response to that. Because this inner child of mine, this ego defense mechanisms, that trying to protect this inner child is like, Yo, if you do that, you are going to owe these people so much. If you take up space in their lives, they are going to expect that you hold the weight of their lives to make sure that it's like even basically, and so I'm not sure necessarily if the the logic follows, if you will, but that is how it felt. To me, that is the ego defense mechanism that I picked up on. And I think it's fairly right whether or not it makes a lot of sense. But I got this feeling of oh, of course. And so when I wanted to be celebrated and supported and noticed on my birthday, I was stopped by this defense mechanism that was like, bro, we will keep you safe by making sure you do not follow through on anything on your birthday. Because if you ask for that space, and you take up space, you know, it's going to hurt later, you know, you're going to have to take up space for everyone else, you know, you're gonna have to hold the space for everyone else, you know that, you know, other people can't handle their emotions, and therefore anything that has to do with you, you're going to have to take on their emotions, and oh, that is so exhausting. It's so painful. I'm just like, the only way I can protect you here is by making you think you're an idiot. And so that's what I did. And I think that's very common for a lot of ego defense mechanisms that we create, to protect our inner child. And I wonder if there's some out there that you can see in your own life, and maybe just ask them what they're protecting? What do they want to be there for? And so I was able to do this. I had the support of my wife, thank goodness. And I just supported myself by working through it and notice Saying it using this roundtable method and crying. And so eventually, it was finished, it burnt itself out, I was able to move, it was revealing, it was healing. And then I moved on. And so on my birthday a couple of days ago, a few days ago, now I started my day with a run, I made very sure I was up, even though I only had four or five hours of sleep, because I wanted to make sure that the first thing I did was a huge win, to guard against more of this negative self talk.

So I got up went for 10k Run, I got everything ready for the morning, took my son to sports, spend some time walking, and just spend some time with my family. And then we prepped, we welcomed a number of friends over we hosted, we were supported, I was loved. I was held, I was celebrated. And it was a beautiful, beautiful evening. And I'm so full now, guys, my heart is completely full, I'm almost overwhelmed, I can feel myself disassociating from the good feelings. That's how hard this is for me to feel accepted and loved. And so I just want to share that in case you resonate with that, in case it's relevant to you. Maybe just even to hear the truth of another person to gain some more clarity and compassion in your daily interactions. I could feel myself even now thinking about it going, oh, yeah, it's not that big of a deal. Like, don't worry about that. Because honestly, I don't think my nervous system knows how to handle so much good. And I don't know what to do with that. And so I'm slowly allowing the feelings in trying to notice when I'm trying to turn them off, and just let myself sit with the joy and the heart filling, and the support and the deepening of relationship and the celebration and the love. Because it's overwhelming. But it's wonderful. And so I want to share that with you today. Because it's it's real for me, it's more of my journey being shared with you. Hopefully, it helps. Hopefully, it piqued something in you perhaps allowed you to go in and, and do some more inner work of your own to heal to become more whole to become more authentic, because I do this work. And even though I feel like I'm on the other side of, of my miserable self of, you know, five, 810 years ago, there's always stuff coming up. And so it's a never ending journey. But I love to share what's real so that you can see what it looks like, what tools do I use? How does it feel to me, and just let you know, you're not alone. No, like, I'm really good at this stuff. And I've come a long way. And I've done a lot of healing. And I'm still constantly doing it. And then moving on. And then living my life. And so I hope this was helpful. I hope you got something out of this. And I wish you a happy birthday, whatever that might be in your life. Because you know, if you're like me, it might be hard to tell people. So just imagine I know what yours is. Just imagine that this is directly related to you. Have a happy birthday and make sure you take up space because you're important. And if you can be vulnerable with people, if you can ask for that space, if you can ask for that support. In my experience, you can get it the more authentically you show up, the more people that you want to be around you will find you and flock to you and celebrate you. That's it for today. We'll have more of a Dad.Work podcast next Monday. Hope you had a wonderful week. Hope you have an excellent week with your family, find some time to go outside ground, put the screens down and be fully present, even if it's 510 15 minutes per day per person in your family. Go 100% for that short time. It's way better than distracted for hours. So go in there, do the work. And have a wonderful weekend guys. We'll see you back here on Monday. Thanks again for listening to the Dad.Work podcast. I appreciate you very much for being along on the ride with me. See you later

that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to dad.work/pod that's DAD.WORK/POD type that into your browser just like a normal URL dad.work/pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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