Others have it worse.
Has this sentence ever made anyone feel better? I do not think so. Yet, I am sure that all of us have already been told at least once in our lifetime that millions of our fellow human beings go through so much more suffering than we do. As if thinking about the misery of others could make your own problems disappear – or as if it could actually make you happy!
Please do not get me wrong! I perfectly understand the reason why some people think that telling you this infamous “others have it worse” phrase could make you feel better. They think it would make you focus on the positive things in life. Or that you would start appreciating the things you have always taken for granted. And well….there may be something in it. But still, I’ve never found anything comforting in this sentence.
Reading this, you may think that I am just a selfish kid “from the First World”. I could deny it but I won’t – instead, I will explain you the way I feel about the sentence that has become the slogan of 2020.
Hm..where to even start? There are many reasons why I hate when people tell me “others have it worse”. And the first reason is pretty straightforward:
Thinking About Other People Suffering Makes Me Feel Even More Desperate
Have you ever had this feeling?
There are times when you just need to talk to someone about your problems. Maybe, you do not even feel that horrible but you just need someone to understand your feelings or maybe you actually have serious problems and you need your friends to help you find a solution. So you tell them about the things that are bothering you and what you get in return is an “others have it worse” that will eventually make you think of children who have nothing to eat, people who have no shelter or people who have a severe illness.
Will these thoughts cheer you up? Well, of course not! Instead, you will start thinking about those people and about how incompetent you are that you’re just unable to help them all. So in a way, you kind of forget about your own problems but you will not feel better at all.
And in my case – and I guess I am probably not alone with this – this extreme sadness triggered by compassion isn’t the only thing but…
Knowing That Others Have It Worse Makes Me Feel Guilty
Here I should also add that I have OCD – as you might have probably noticed reading my blog – and one of the “key features” of OCD is guilt. An extreme feeling of guilt. So when I hear about other people who are in a worse situation than I am, it will make me feel like I am a selfish monster. How can I complain about feeling isolated when there are thousands of people who have lost their family members? How can I even talk about my seemingly insignificant problems when there’s so much suffering on our planet?
And you do not even know how difficult it has been for me to even write about this. Like it is really making me feel terribly selfish and guilty at this very moment – I feel that I am a horrible person because I am writing about the “others have it worse” phenomenon while millions of people actually have it WAY worse than I do.
But I still believe it’s an important topic to talk about and I think that we should not feel guilty for “having it better than others” – just think about it, instead of feeling guilty and punishing yourself for having a better life than many other human beings on this planet, you can help those in trouble!
And then, there is another thought that our lovely “others have it worse” slogan can trigger:
What If One Day, I Will Have It Worse Too?
Again, I know it sounds selfish – and again, I am feeling guilty for writing about this – but I have always tried to be an honest person and I think I should tell you that when I hear about the agony of other people, it will not only make me feel guilty but it will also make me ask myself: what if one day, things in my life will also turn worse?
And I am sure that those who have OCD are already way too familiar with this infamous “what if”. There is always a what if. And your mind will always be able to come up with the most catastrophic scenarios one could ever imagine – so knowing that “others have it worse” doesn’t help you at all ’cause you’ll just feel guilty and at the same time terribly scared of ending up in the same situation as them.
Furthermore, apart of the feelings I’ve been talking about, there is one more thing I would like to mention:
You Should Never Compare Yourself To Others
Interestingly, when you compare yourself to someone who “has it better”, people will usually tell you that you should never compare yourself to others but when you’re seemingly luckier than other people, it’s always okay to compare yourself to those who’re “having it worse”. Do you see the logic? Because I don’t. I just think we should never ever compare ourselves to others! We all have our own problems and the way we perceive them depends on the situation we are in. Your problem may seem to be something insignificant to other people but if it’s important for you, you have the right to feel upset about it!
A Sentence That Could Hurt
Finally, think about the way those people who “have it worse” would feel if they knew they were used as a “miserable example”. Like how would it make you feel if you knew that your friends were trying to comfort each other by talking about YOU as a person who has it worse than they do? It wouldn’t be a great feeling, would it?
There are people who have it worse than me. And there are people who have it worse than you, dear reader. I do not deny this fact. Should we be aware of this? Of course! Should we help those in need? Absolutely! But should we go around comforting our friends by telling them that “others have it worse”? NEVER! Or at least – that’s what I think. Do you agree with me? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section ❤