Lately, I’ve been hearing this particular line more and more often:
“You should remember that other people have it worse than you."
Now before I start explaining my point of view, I just want to make it clear that this article isn’t meant to attack anyone who has used this phrase. Frankly, I don’t believe everyone says this out of malice. For example, this phrase came up during a conversation with someone I'm close to. In an odd sense, they meant it as words of comfort to approach my situation in a more positive light.
However, I do witness people using this phrase to invalidate other person’s feelings. Because of this, I feel the need to formally address this topic and explain why this particular phrase can be potentially hurtful.
I understand that there are many people in the world who unfortunately lack even basic life necessities such as access to food, clean water, a comprehensive education or a responsive government. To those people: I’m so sorry that you’re suffering.
That doesn’t make your feelings or your suffering any less important in comparison.
Very frequently, I see and experience people invalidating others' emotions just because they believe their situation isn’t as horrible as theirs. I know I speak for others as well when I say it can be deeply upsetting when your feelings aren’t respected or taken seriously.
There are three key points that I believe everyone should take note of:
1. You're entitled to feel the way you do.
Everyone has a different way of reacting to things that happen around them. That's okay. Everyone has a different way of processing and handling their thoughts. That's okay too. People are different. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to have your own struggles, your own personal battles, and your own feelings, regardless of what others are experiencing.
2. Other people are not more justified in feeling sad, angry, or frustrated.
One of my close friends put it best when she explained that life isn’t a competition of struggles. Each of us has our own battles that are vital in helping us grow as people. They’re incredibly personal and has absolutely nothing to do with other people.
3. You should not feel ashamed for feeling the way that you do.
Sometimes I catch myself worrying that I’m being too melodramatic, especially after hearing this phrase, and I still do. Often, when I talk to others, I not only recognize similarities in our emotions, but also our differences. We all have very different experiences, but the beauty of it is being able to mature from it all and become an even stronger person.
People are different, and it can be an incredibly beautiful thing, too, if we embrace it. However, because of that it's important that we're mindful of how other people may feel and what we say.
It never hurts to show a little more compassion.