Do not compare your struggles or suffering with others’.
I’m not talking about sharing your experience. I’m talking about comparing.
There is a subset of people who have an impulse to respond to others’ expression of pain with a comparison to their own.
They look at others’ struggle, and they judge them to have suffered either more or less than they have.
This doesn’t end well, for anyone.
If they judge others to have suffered less than they have, they often wind up feeling resentful.
If they judge others to have suffered more than they have, they often wind up minimizing their own pain, thinking and feeling that they “shouldn’t” be struggling as much as they have struggled.
It’s not a competition.
There is no virtue to winning the “Pain Olympics.”
You have struggled and suffered exactly as much as you have— no more, no less.
Comparing your pain to others’ pain won’t change how much you’ve struggled and suffered.
Sometimes we feel the need to compare our struggles with others because that’s how we’ve been conditioned to think about things.
We’ve been taught that it can be useful to look at others’ suffering, to put our own in perspective.
Over and over again I’ve seen people minimize their own pain by comparing it to others, and concluding that they don’t have a “right” to feel what they feel.
Reality doesn’t care if we have a “right” to feel something.
We feel what we feel— whether we “should” or not.
Sometimes we’ve been told “inspirational” stories of people who have suffered greatly, which come with the moral of “if THEY can overcome their suffering, you SHOULD be able to as well.”
It can be helpful to some people to hear stories of people overcoming pain to be successful.
But it can also put pressure on us to “live up” to those peoples’ story…when their actual resources and needs and situations may be very different from ours.
On social media, we see such comparisons all the time. They come from very political direction: “why are you so upset about (one type of suffering), but not as upset about (another type of suffering)?”
No good comes out of those discussions.
They only ever end with one person or group’s suffering being minimized and dismissed.
Sharing your experience and empathizing with others’ suffering can be extraordinarily helpful. It can be soothing and encouraging to know you’re not alone.
But avoid the temptation to turn sharing into comparing.
How other people handled their suffering may or may not be truly comparable to how you’re handling yours.
Whatever anyone else is going through, you STILL have EXACTLY what you have on your plate.
Focus on what is in front of you.
Don’t get distracted with counterproductive comparisons.
You don’t have the time, energy, or need for it.
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