(#287) It Could Be Worse. Comparatory Suffering?

For me, comparatory suffering creates its own issues.
My suffering is mine. Yours is yours.
Does it really help to compare it
to someone or something else—
while denying the feelings in front of you?

You’ve heard them. Probably have used them. I’ve used them. Four little words.

It could be worse!

Some time we use the phrase to help us cope with a disappointing (or even devastating) situation.

It could be worse!

Young Frankenstein reminded us it could be raining.

The sentiment, for some, helps make sense of otherwise confusing circumstances.

You’re diagnosed with an illness “A” and say, “It could be worse. I could have illness ‘B’.”

You lose your job and say, “It could be worse. My neighbor has illness ‘B’.”

You have a large car repair bill and say, “It could be worse. My buddy just lost her job.”

You end up with a new supervisor—whom you do not like.  “It could be worse. My colleague just got diagnosed with illness “A.”

I am not making light of this.  It almost seems to be clichéd resignation to accepting what lies before us. Or a way to not validate someone’s grief or angst.  “Yes, you are suffering—but the person over there suffers worse. You know, you could be in a lot worse situation.”

For me, comparatory suffering creates its own issues. My suffering is mine. Yours is yours. Does it really help to compare it to someone or something else—while denying the feelings in front of you?

It could be worse!

Lately, for me, though, the phrase “It could be worse” lacks passion or drive. Somehow it seems almost perfunctory, like someone mindlessly saying “God bless you” after a sneeze. Or, something we can say when confronted with a troubling situation that has happened to someone else—and we don’t know what to say.  So, out come those four little words.

Video recommendation of the week:

I guess, anything can be worse than something in front us. Still, words are powerful—and they matter.  A change of a phrase or a word may have a powerful effect on perception, outlook, and action.

Decades ago I remember telling a mentor about some issue that was bothering me.  I had been carping about the unfairness of my fate. I then heard myself complaining, stopped myself, and said to my colleague (something to the effect of), “But isn’t there some scripture verse about the person with no shoes who was upset until he saw the person with no feet? Am I just being a crybaby?” (A scriptural “It could be worse.”)

My mentor looked at me and advised that I not diminish my suffering.  He said something to the effect of “Yes, you may have your feet—but it is still you without shoes on your feet.”

The person with illness “A” can certainly take solace that at least it’s not illness “B.” If that works for that person, then it works. And, perhaps, this is merely semantics.

2nd video recommendation of the week:

And, just maybe, the tweaking of the words will help us better see the positive (“this will give me strength”) as opposed to hearing ourselves speak an alternative (“well, it could be worse”).

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 

4 Responses to (#287) It Could Be Worse. Comparatory Suffering?

  1. marianbeaman says:

    I can’t imagine you “carping about the unfairness of my fate.” I guess you are human after all – ha! Enjoyed the videos.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ann Pearson says:

    I remember my sister saying something similar to me that your mentor said. Ignoring your own pain is no better than wallowing in it. We need to just let the pain exist, which is difficult. Milton said it better: “The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven.” And Shakespeare said it even a little better than that (but who can resist Hamlet?): “…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so….” I hope for you more heaven-like thinking, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] It Could be Worse. Comparatory Suffering? * For me, comparatory suffering creates its own issues. My suffering is mine. Yours is yours. Does it really help to compare it to someone or something else—while denying the feelings in front of you? […]

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