Have you ever heard someone say, “it could be worse?” Or have you yourself said something like, “other people have it worse off than me?”
If we can be honest for a moment, many of us, including myself, have used such cliches. And to be frank, that’s exactly what they are – cliches! So many of us use these phrases as a way to sort of, sweep it under the rug. But what exactly is this “it” I am speaking of? The “it” is different for each person but the idea is the same. When life gets rough, situations become painful, heartbreak is deep, and circumstances are unfriendly, we tend to use these phrases as a way to brush off the depth of our current situations. However, this isn’t necessarily a healthy way to cope!
By having these mindsets that it could be worse or that other people are worse off, we downplay the effect that our problems have on us. It is like putting a band aide on a gash. It gives the appearance that things are getting better when in reality, we are in real pain and in need of stitches! Not to say that we ought to let our situations get the best of us, however, the old addiction recovery 12 step program sheds some light on a better way of thinking. To paraphrase: the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem.
I will never forget a chapel service at Nyack College a few years back when our Director of Spiritual Formation Mrs. Wanda Walborn said, “it is okay to not be okay.” Talk about being mind blown! You mean to tell me that there’s nothing wrong with feeling hurt? That that is a natural response to pain? YES! Since this day, I have found that honesty with yourself, God, and others is incredibly healing.
Hurt is a natural response to pain.
Last night I made a bowl of chicken noodle soup to help fight off a cold. And against my self pep talk not to spill it on myself, what did I do? I spilled boiling hot soup all over my hand and arm! OUCH! It hurt like…well you know. My natural physical response was pain that elicited even a verbal reaction – I screamed.
During this little ordeal, I did not think to myself that there was someone worse off than me nor did I think that it could be worse. While those things are true, they did nothing to rectify the fact that I was in pain! Why? Because I was entitled to feel how I felt because my feelings are valid. It hurt!
I think that instead of using these cliches to brush off our pain, a better way of coping and the first step in healing is to acknowledge that you are hurt. Acknowledge that your situation is affecting you deeply. We can’t be Superman/woman in every circumstance! Sometimes we are the ones in need of help and THAT’S OKAY!