Have you ever stopped yourself from feeling something because someone else has it worse? It’s so easy to shame ourselves for feeling bad because we always know someone in a worse situation. Our brains like to protect us from harm, and it views painful emotions as dangerous. This is why unhelpful thoughts that shut down our emotions happen. It’s completely normal for this to happen, but it doesn’t actually make us feel any better, it just stops us from the important validation we need. This phenomenon is called “The Suffering Olympics”.
What are the Suffering Olympics
We experience the Suffering Olympics when we mentally rank our pain against someone else’s and decide whose is more important. However, This doesn’t make us feel better because our emotions need us to acknowledge them or they come back stronger. I spent years of my life distracting myself from what I was feeling until I was completely overwhelmed with them.
Why are the Suffering Olympics dangerous
The Suffering Olympics are dangerous because our perception of others wellbeing is an illusion. The experience that might be the most difficult thing for you could be easier for someone else. We have no idea all of the internal and external resources that are available to others. While they might seem to be thriving, they could be drowning under the surface and vice versa. How we perceive the struggles of others is based on our own objectives and limited knowledge. When you enter your trials into the arena of “who has it worse” you have just entered an unfair fight.
Suffering isn’t valuable in comparison to greater or lesser suffering. It isn’t meaningful because it’s difficult. The struggles you go through are important because if you allow them, they will shape you into a stronger, more resilient person, no matter how big or small the challenge is. We often get so caught up in the hero’s journey that we forget that the journey wouldn’t be extraordinary, if not for each experience and person met along the way. You get to decide what has meaning in your life, and I hope that you choose to see each situation as valuable because of the person it helped you become.
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