Being Part of the “Poor Me” Brigade

Ditch the excuses, and start shaping life as you want it …

Shaa Wasmund, MBE, is the author of the No 1 bestseller “Do Less, Get More and Stop Talking, Start Doing” and her new book, “How to Fix Your Sh*t” (Penguin Life) will be published later this month. She has been a lifelong supporter of encouraging more women into business. She was recently named one of the Top 20 Most Influential Entrepreneurs in the UK by the Sunday Times.

Today, she runs one of the biggest and most active business Facebook Groups in the UK, The Freedom Collective, and has built a multi-million pound online business from her back garden. Shaa’s success hasn’t come through family money, or lucky breaks. It’s through mindset. She says: “If we are truly honest, most of us are guilty of simply doing the same thing, over and over again, and somehow expecting a different result.” Over the last five years Shaa has completely revolutionised how she works in order to be able to take more holidays. She inspires positive action, hence the purposeful title of her new guide to a better life: “How To Fix your Sh*t”.

Here, she writes about how self-pity is self-defeating:

“I totally understand about how hard life can be. I was widowed in my early thirties and my life has never been the same and, just when I thought it was… well, it wasn’t. So I get it. I really do.

But wallowing in our own misery and getting trapped in the “poor me” syndrome is not the answer.

So what is this syndrome, and do you suffer from it? More importantly, if you do, what can you do about it?

Before we get into this, a word of warning. No one likes to admit this might be them, so it’s easy to dismiss the idea. Before you do that, please take a moment and ask yourself how often you find yourself in situations like this. Better to be honest and change it than sweep it under the carpet and ignore it. You don’t need to make any public confessions, but a private one is a great place to start.

Characteristics of  “poor me” syndrome:

  • It generally develops in people who feel that life has happened to them; the more attention they pay to the negative side of their life, the more they believe that story.  A self-fulfilling prophecy. What starts off as a mild form of frustration or despair with their current life turns into long-term pessimism, distrust, self-pity and the belief that their life is out of their control.
  • People who suffer with “poor me” syndrome are easily spotted as they generally tend to blame other people and outside circumstances. They may not necessarily talk about it a lot, but when they do you will rarely hear them admitting they were the ones who messed things up. It will always be down to external forces and circumstances beyond their control. Either that, or it’s someone else’s fault.
  • They seem to lurch from one drama or crisis to the next, never acknowledging the fact that they are the common denominator in creating their own crises. They often seem oblivious to reality.
  • They make very little effort to learn from their mistakes or to analyse what went wrong, even though they claim to do so. The “poor me” attitude may be a crutch, but it also creates anger, resentment and frustration in others.
  • Lack of self-esteem and self-confidence typically depends on others’ reactions. When others praise someone with “poor me” syndrome, their self-esteem rises; when they are criticised, they feel worthless. In psychological terms, this is known as “external orientation”, which is not a place you want to be.
  • The good news is that “poor me” syndrome is a learned behaviour; no one is born like this. Through poor coping mechanisms and repeated habitual responses, it becomes ingrained into a person’s psyche and starts to become their normality. However, it’s far from normal, and it’s certainly not healthy. Fortunately, you have the power to change it.”
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