The other day a friend told me about a challenge she was dealing with at work. She talked for a few minutes – the issue, the personalities involved, her frustrations – and suddenly, she stopped: “I really should stop complaining about this – it’s such a first world problem …” … and then, she changed the subject.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard things like this before.
Maybe you’ve done it yourself.
“I don’t know why I’m kvetching about hot flashes, my friend just got diagnosed with breast cancer …” or “I shouldn’t complain about my crazed schedule; it’s only happening because my business is doing so well …” “I’ve gotta stop bitching about this whole political situation; I’m doing everything I possibly can …”
Stop that would you?
Seriously. Stop it.
If you compare your life to others as a way to feel better, or to force a “reality check” on yourself, you are (in essence) attempting to convince yourself that your feelings don’t matter. It negates your honest experience.
When you do that, you get more and more out of touch with yourself – further and further away from what you really think and feel. That makes you more susceptible to outside influences (or the nasty voices in your head) that can leave you questioning everything you think and feel.
I’m not trying to promote ungratefulness, ignorance of privilege, non-stop complaining, or wallowing in self-pity, but there’s a distinction here: there’s no need to talk yourself out of the stuff that frustrates, annoys, or upends your life just because there’s someone else who’s worse off than you.
That’s because there will always be someone worse off than you: struggling to make ends meet, dealing with illness and/or a horrible partner, or – even worse: living in a war zone; fearing for their safety; having no clean water or food.
And then, there’s also the inverse: There will always be someone better off than you.
You know what I’m talking about with that one if you’re on social media. If you ever compare yourself to all the shiny happy people you see on Facebook and Instagram (#blessed!), or DIYing it up on Pinterest, you’re probably gonna to find yourself in a mega funk. Cause really, who can keep up with those (completely curated/filtered) gorgeous, successful, yoga-doing, organic-eating, people with the insanely successful partners, careers, and offspring?
We’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to others in an effort to measure happiness or success. (and whether or not we “deserve” to be frustrated/pissed off/unhappy.)
It’s time to stop thinking we can’t feel like shit if there are others who feel it more. If we’re always comparing our insides with other people’s outsides – their social media curated lives of fabulosity – that’s not gonna be good for anybody.
So stop. Break free.
Break free from this need to find something to be grateful for even when you feel crappy. Break free from compare and despair enslavement.
You get to feel like shit. You get to be happy.
But you have to actually BE those things if you’re going to live a life of honest fulfillment.
I get that it might be easier said than done – particularly since this way of being is inculcated in our lives – but you can’t change anything until you name it and face it, so it’d be a really good thing to start paying attention to this.
Notice how this habit of dismissing your own feelings and experience shows up day to day … and notice what it does to your attitude and spirits. I have a theory, but I’ll be curious to hear how it goes for you.
Start facing things. And PLEASE, stop telling yourself to stop complaining.