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I Shouldn't Be Upset, People Have It So Much Worse Than Me

letting go
For the past couple of days, I’ve been posting videos on IGTV and FB and I wanted to share the latest video with you.

I covered one specific area of our #quarantinelife that many of us seem to be struggling with (myself included):

Comparing our suffering to others.

You can watch that video by clicking the photo below (or keep scrolling to read a version of what I said):

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

“I shouldn’t be upset right now, I should be grateful.”
“I should be less stressed working from home, because at least I have a job.”
“I should just be thankful my family is healthy. I have no right to be upset because I have it so much better than other people.”

This is called comparative suffering.

And it doesn’t do a lick of good for anyone.

Comparing our suffering to the suffering of others = everyone loses.

You lose because you’re repressing your feelings, denying your own experience, and robbing yourself of the opportunity to get the support you need.

Others lose because when you deny yourself the care you need it prevents you from having the capacity to help others.

You may be thinking that by sucking it up you’re somehow saving your compassion for the people or animals who “really” need it, but compassion doesn’t work like that.

If you stop judging yourself and allow yourself to feel what you feel, it does not make you less compassionate towards folks who are having a different, difficult experience.

Compassion is not a limited resource. If you’re kind to yourself you’re not taking a piece of the kind pie away from someone else.

Having compassion for yourself only increases the compassion you have for others.

People who are jobless, homeless, or sick do not benefit from you beating yourself up.

If they’re sitting in a hospital room right now it does them NO GOOD that you’re shoving down your suffering because it's "less than" what they've got on their plate.

Dr. Kristen Neff’s research around this is clear. The more self-compassion caregivers have for themselves the more likely they are to continue showing up to give to others.

Here’s another spin on it:

The other day on Brené Brown’s new podcast she was interviewing David Kessler, who specializes in grief, and he said: judgment demands punishment.

Let that sink in.

When you judge your feelings or reactions to COVID-19, it requires a response.

Our typical response is punishment. We beat ourselves up, we deny ourselves rest and self-care, we cut ourselves off from support, or we demand that others be punished to alleviate our pain.  

We know from working with animals that punishment doesn’t work.

It makes us afraid to show up and keep trying in the face of so much suffering.

Punishing/repressing = pressure that will eventually lead to something explosive happening internally or externally. Yikes. 

So it’s not doing anyone any favors for you to suck it up and beat yourself up.

Since we can’t stop judging altogether, let’s put a new spin on it:

Judgement demands compassion.

When you catch yourself comparing your suffering, you can choose to have compassion for yourself (and others - it's not either/or). 

When you catch yourself judging your emotions or behavior, you can choose self-compassion.

When you notice you’re talking shit about yourself to yourself, you can choose self-compassion:

“Hey pal, being sad is okay. Being kind to yourself doesn’t take anything away from others who are suffering.”

Caring for yourself, allowing your feelings, getting support – all of that will help you to be more compassionate, less judgmental, and of service towards those around you.

  • Notice when you are comparing your suffering to others and judging yourself for feeling the way you feel.  
  • Pause.
  • Choose to meet judgement with compassion. Soften your inner voice’s tone and say “Let’s try that again.” Get support.  Allow yourself to feel what you feel.

No feeling is wrong. 

Be kind to yourself and you’ll increase your capacity to care for others.

And boy-o, do we need each other's support right now. 

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