Emotional Pissing Wars: My Pain Is Bigger Than Your Pain

I read recently about the celebrity Twitter scornfest regarding Kendall Jenner’s now minorly infamous tweet about wishing “things could be easier sometimes”. Frances Bean Cobain chastised Jenner’s self-involvement during a time when “poverty, draught, disease” and worse continue to plague our world. And yet, I sympathize with Jenner’s plight.

A friend of mine once confessed during a depressive episode that although she feels sad about her personal struggles, she also battles guilt because other people in the world have “bigger problems” than hers. What right does she have to feel bad about family, friendships, her own self-esteem, or her direction in life when there are millions of people living in war zones without sufficient access to clean drinking water?

“Plenty,” I told her. “Every right in the world.”

tweet-warWe’ve all had times where we feel like our problems don’t matter because there are people alive with worse stressors and traumas to grieve, but relativity does not invalidate your experiences.

We all think and react within our own realms of experience. Just because you may not have experienced the same traumas as me does not mean you haven’t felt my pain — or that I haven’t felt yours.

If the worst emotional pain you’ve ever experienced was your dog running away, a broken heart after the demise of your two-week middle school romance, or that time you walked home in the pouring rain on a cold day, your brain may well be processing exactly the same pain as someone whose immediate family member was murdered, or someone who found out they have a debilitating, incurable disease. It all depends on what has happened during your life and how you have dealt with those events.

The worst trauma I’ve experienced was my brother’s suicide. It takes a lot for me to dwell on my own sadness about anything else because nothing I’ve experienced compares to that threshold of grief. I am thankful that the experience forced me to prematurely emotionally mature. I have learned to see a new perspective on my priorities in life, and what isn’t worth the stress.

Fortunately, most people haven’t experienced life-shattering trauma, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t felt the same amount of emotional pain as I have, and that doesn’t mean that their pain is any less valid than mine.

There will always be someone facing hurdles worse than yours. There is no wrong way to feel, only more or less healthy ways of expressing and coping with your feelings. Never discredit yourself for feeling any medley of emotions, even those which don’t make sense at the time. If you feel something, there is a reason you’re feeling it, and discrediting yourself inhibits proactive mental processing.

Don’t run from your emotions; embrace them, and respect the emotions of others.

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