I have previously expressed my opinion on the whole “It could be worse” wantonly handed out ‘advice’.
It is, as you know, not one of my favourite little helpful hints to hear.
Not least because it can -and does – have the propensity to make things worse. Not always. But it can.
There’s something else in this that I think is vastly overlooked when giving – or given – this advice.
Not intentionally, not even specifically, necessarily, but harmful.
I understand that the idea is to put things into some sort of perspective. That, yes, your situation may be crap, but you know what? It’s not that bad. There’s someone out there, an individual or an entire community, that is worse off.
So, really, what’s the problem?
Aside from the ridiculousness of saying it, and I’m going to bore you with my favourite quote on this matter again …
… it is not actually of any benefit or help.
Well, it can. If it does actually get someone to think about their situation and help them to feel better, then great.
However … the bit that’s overlooked? The “what’s your problem” aspect of it?
Well, when things are shitty, things are, well, shitty.
That they could be worse for someone else, or in some other place in the world is kind of sort of irrelevant when you’re right there, living in the shittiness of it all.
I’m not talking a broken nail, spilling your coffee, or not having access to Facebook for half an hour.
I’m talking those bigger issues, when it feels like your life is falling apart. When you’re trying hard to pick yourself up from … whatever … and things seem to be going wrong.
When you’re looking for paid employment and you’ve been knocked back again, you don’t want to hear, necessarily, that someone else “has it worse” because they’ve been looking for longer and have one more child than you do.
When you break a finger and someone else has broken an arm.
When you have a mental illness, but someone else has been institutionalised (or is) for theirs and you haven’t.
When you have child with special needs and someone else has two kids with those same needs, or a child with the same needs, but worse!
When you have been, or are being, abused, physically or mentally, but someone else is being abused more.
Yes, all those things may very well be worse for someone, but when you are there, in that moment, dealing with it, then if some else has it worse, so what?
Really? So what?
Because you’re bleeding from a cut finger, and getting blood all over your white shirt, floor, and in the dinner, but you haven’t severed an artery – which is much worse – then you should just ignore it? Don’t ask for a bandaid because it could be worse, you know!
When you are being physically beaten on an irregular basis, sometimes only once or twice a year, you should just not worry about it, because someone out there is being bashed once a week?
When your depression takes you to a level where you are struggling to get out of bed each morning, but you still manage to, then just get over yourself because I know someone who could not only not get out of bed, the CAT team had to come and get her and take her away.
When your anxiety has you doubled over and gasping for breath, physically and literally unable to take that first step, get over yourself will you, because the lady next door had to have an ambulance called for her anxiety. She stopped breathing entirely.
Things could be worse.
There will always be someone out there that has to deal with something worse.
Maybe, if that person is there, right in front of you, spurting blood from an artery whilst your finger is bleeding, then maybe that’s worth considering.
If you’re both bleeding from an artery, even though their cut is deeper, and they’re ‘worse off’, then that’s a different story.
While you’re there, alone, in your own kitchen, blood dripping off your elbow from a cut in your finger; then all you can deal with in that moment is what you have right in front of you.
There is nothing wrong with that.
Because if you are dealing with any of the aforementioned, and a plethora more, then you are still affected by it. A broken finger still needs tending to. It needs to be allowed to heal.
A broken finger is still broken.
Because it’s not an arm or a leg does not mean it is unbroken.
Yes, yes it could be worse.
But so what?