As events all around the world are being cancelled, I have ONE event I’m not sad to add to that list.
Will you join me in cancelling the hardship olympics?
I’m tired tonight, as I write this—one week into the U.S.’s response to Covid-19. It’s an hour after my kids have fallen asleep—and the first time I’ve heard silence (sweet, blessed silence) all day.
I’m tired… and a little scared. A LOT overwhelmed.
Is this my new normal? How long will I be homeschooling my kids? How long will we be “sheltering in place” here in California, essentially cut off from friends and support?
How long will my work—the thing that makes me feel most like ME—get squeezed out as I struggle to juggle this new life of mine?
Will my loved ones stay healthy? Will I?
But I hesitate to say these thoughts out loud, because I know how incredibly lucky my family and I are to be safe, healthy, and secure right now when people all around the world—whether because of the pandemic or for a thousand other reasons—are not.
What is Comparative Suffering?
I see it constantly online and hear it daily in my real life… “How can I complain,” we ask ourselves, “when I know people who have it so much worse?”
This is comparative suffering.
But the thing about comparative suffering is that it doesn’t make our suffering any lighter. In fact, I think it makes our suffering feel HEAVIER because we can’t put a voice to our hidden struggles, which leaves us feeling not just exhausted or overwhelmed or worried—but alone too.
Brené Brown (or as we like to call her around here, The Queen 😘) says this about comparative suffering:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that fear and scarcity immediately trigger comparison, and even pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked. My husband died and that grief is worse than your grief over an empty nest. I’m not allowed to feel disappointed about being passed over for promotion when my friend just found out that his wife has cancer…”
Just as powerfully, she adds—
“The refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce.”
What If We All Opted Out?
Empathy is not a finite resource.
Love doesn’t need to be rationed.
Pain is pain, no matter how it stacks up against another’s.
And everyone deserves to feel their feelings.
So what if we all agreed not to evaluate, dissect, tally, and rank each other’s pain right now?
What if we opt out of the hardship olympics (as writer Kristen Howerton has called it) and make a pact to lead with compassion instead?
What if we keep our struggles in perspective but also allow ourselves to express them?
This is what we need right now. (This is one of the things we always need.)
PS. If you could use a listening ear (free from comparison!), please leave a comment and tell us what YOU’RE struggling with right now in regards to this worldwide pandemic. ❤️ Your feelings are 100 percent valid, and we’re here for you!
Overwhelmed by everything that’s on your mind right now?
One thing that really helps me find peace, especially during turbulent times like these, is taking a few minutes to clear out everything I’ve got going on in my head! Grab my free 5-step checklist to use as a guide. ❤ (You will feel SO good afterward!)