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We all have stories. We all have stresses and anxieties in our lives. Too often rather than feel the emotions tied to these anxieties and stresses we talk ourselves out of them with 4 simple words “Someone has it worse”.
Recently at a cocktail party a woman I was talking with was sharing about her son’s recent diagnosis of cancer. As she described the painstaking process of getting help and the sense of loss and anger she was feeling she quickly said, “But when you go to Children Hospital’s you can see there are children so much worse off, I feel so bad because our problems are minimal. We are lucky.” Lucky?!? Really?!? Because your son is only diagnosed with leukemia and not brain cancer? I quietly turned to her and said, “Doesn’t matter what illness it is watching your child suffer has to be an emotional roller coaster” She looked at me with such relief and said, “Thank you, it has been the most challenging thing I have ever gone through.”
We live in a society of comparison, one-up man ship and ‘well at least I am not that person’. It is humbleness gone amuck. What if we all just owned our stresses and stories? What if we were able to say to ourselves or a loved one, “Today was a tough day” and not have to hear a barrage of ‘think positive’ or ‘it could be worse’ or ‘it’s not that bad’. Rather to hear, “I am sorry you had a tough day” or “tell me about it” or “let me know if I can help”.
Maybe right now you are overwhelmed with work and you are really struggling to get out of bed each morning and you see your friend who is juggling 3 kids under 8, a dying parent and a full time job.
So you think to yourself:
“I should be better”
“I should be as strong as my friend”
“I am such a wimp”
Who is that helping?
Telling yourself you are weak and SHOULD be like someone else because they have more severe problems? Who is that helping?
Does that make your friend feel better?
Does it make you feel better?
No and No.
Actually it doesn’t help your friend at all and makes you feel worse.
Having a bad day? It’s OK.
Grieving the loss of a pet? It’s OK.
Frustrated with the snow and cold? It’s OK.
Whatever is registering on your stress list it is ok to feel that stress. Someone somewhere will always have it worse. But you not feeling your pain won’t take away their pain. When we ignore our pain because ‘someone always has it worse’ all we are doing is ignoring our pain–we aren’t helping them and we aren’t helping ourselves. We are providing a misguided excuse to not deal with our own pain.
I would love to hear from you in the comments: Do you struggle with someone has it worse syndrome? Do you minimize your problems because they aren’t really problems? How do you express your pain/sadness?