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Sometimes I catch myself thinking “But someone else has it worse” or “You should not be struggling so much” or even “Why are you so worried about this when it could be so much worse?”
I have to intentionally remind myself that this belief is not supportive of my well-being, yet, at times it can feel incredibly difficult to shift out of this mindset. It can be difficult not to compare my own pain to the trauma that I see others experience or the emotional or physical pain they face on a daily basis. It can be challenging to approach the idea that even if pain exists on a spectrum, how we feel is still meaningful and deserves to be seen.
I stumbled across a perfect little quote yesterday that really widened my perspective: “Whether you’re drowning in two feet of water or 10, you’re still drowning.”
These words are so deeply true and so powerful when taken to heart. When we compare our own pain to the pain of others, we often invalidate the very real feelings of pain we are experiencing, simply because we don’t think our own pain is as justified as the pain of others. We minimize our own unique experience because we believe that others may have it worse.
And then, too often, we put ourselves down for how we are feeling. We find ourselves trying to repress our own very real emotions.
However, these words so beautifully depict the realization that pain is pain, no matter what form it presents itself in. No matter what pain looks like, it is still pain. If we experience something as painful or challenging or difficult for us, then it IS painful. If something is hard or if something hurts, then it holds value and space. If we feel that ache in our stomach or hole in our heart, we don’t need to deny it or belittle it simply because it could be worse.
Pain is pain. It is always worth acknowledging and validating. If we experience something as painful, comparing it to the pain of someone else won’t change how we innately feel.
We can acknowledge the pain of others while also avoiding minimizing our own pain or suffering. We each have our own experiences and our own perceptions, and while some mountains may indeed look bigger, we can still simultaneously acknowledge that we too are climbing.
And it can’t be forgotten that the very same is true for joy — we can feel joy about something, no matter how big or small it may seem from an outsider’s perspective. We can feel joy about anything that warms our soul, no matter the amount of joy of those around us and no matter if someone else would perceive the same thing as joyful.
Joy is joy is joy, and pain is pain is pain.
Next time you start to think “But someone else has it worse, I shouldn’t feel this way,” I hope you can remind yourself that there is space in this world for all of our experiences and emotions. Your pain and your joy are valid and deserve to be felt.