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Suffering is part and parcel of life. It is only natural that we seek to ameliorate our suffering, to ease ourselves through the difficult times.
Many of us have difficulty voicing our suffering. We engage in what I call comparative dismissal. “There is always someone in a worse situation than me, so I’d better not complain. Just smile, suck it up, and keep moving forward.”
While this may be technically true, and has the positive effect of not enabling ourselves to fall into helpless victimhood, I think it can be damaging over time.
If we can’t voice our suffering, we limit our ability to acknowledge and work through it.
What we do when we dismiss our suffering by comparing it to an external, universa hell, is that we never acknowledge it. This can become another way to suppress/minimise our emotions, to disregard our reality, and to put our needs behind some others.
Think of the pain you feel the moment you stub your toe. AT that point in time, it is perfectly understandable to curse and shout. Sure, on the universal suffering index, it is not the same as say falling into a woodchipper. But at that moment, you are entitled to feel as distressed as you feel.
Psychological pain is the same way. Losing a treasured pet (to a woodchipper?) is totally not the same as losing your entire family to ebola. Feeling like you want to end your life because you are unable to get the job you want is not the same as … you get what I mean.
We are entitled to voice our suffering.
This is not about reveling in suffering as a continual activity. This is about expressing and hopefully validating the suffering we are feeling at a given point in time, so that we can start to move forward beyond it.