How do you compare one type of pain with another? The simple answer is that you can’t and yet we all do it. At one time or another we have probably all said something like ‘I know this is such a small problem compared to the war in…’ or ‘this is nothing compared to what other people go through’ or even ‘you’ve probably talked to people with much worse problems than mine.’
Our problems often seem insignificant compared to what is going on in the world around us, or in the lives of people we know, and it can be all too easy to beat yourself up and feel like you should be coping better or that you’re weak for feeling this way.
It’s important to recognise that while, yes, the world is full of horrendous problems and crises, whether they be famine, war or natural disaster, the thoughts and feelings that make up our internal ‘world’ can be as devastating, debilitating and potentially destructive to who we are as individuals if we ignore them. Having perspective does not mean valuing yourself less than someone or something else.
So, why do we do this to ourselves? Perhaps it is a reflection of how much self-compassion we have that we minimise and deny painful emotions and experiences; perhaps the image we hold of ourselves is ‘the person who copes’ or ‘the person who supports everyone else’; or maybe it comes down to self-esteem and not feeling worthy of receiving help and support, even if you are teetering on the edge of an emotional cliff.
As a counsellor, I aim to provide a safe space for people to express their feelings, including their pain and insecurities. Pain is such an individual experience and means different things to different people: you do matter and what you’re going through is important, no matter how small it might seem.
Copyright © 2015 Laura Hughes
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