I had a bad week. Everything frustrated me - other people, circumstances, the weather, work and even my hair. It was bad.
I vented to a friend. He's a good friend, so I was hoping for a little sympathy and maybe an "oh, poor you."
I got neither. Turns out, sympathy was not was I needed. The problem with sympathy (in situations like these) is that it makes feeling crummy and wallowing in self pity acceptable. It validates an unwillingness to change something about how we think and operate.
Instead of coming to my pity party, my friend took off my party hat and said "the party's over." He reminded me that there are always opportunities to learn - even in bad situations. He reminded me to focus on the things that I can see and control and capitalize on those to buoy me through difficulties. The best part of the advice was this: keep your focus on your growth and everything else will fall into place.
Remaining focused on growth means I can take charge of how I shape my day. Am I concentrating on the right things? Connecting with people who can support my growth? Reflecting on my actions, thoughts and behaviors? Evaluating my output?
The problem with the pity party is that it leads to inertia and stagnation. Focusing on growth, empowers me to take charge of the things I can control, be grateful for the opportunities I have to learn (even the hard ones) and, well, grow!