Any time anyone complains; a big distraction people like to point to is that somewhere, somebody has it worse than you. And it is always true. Does that mean you have no right to your feelings? Does that mean that because somewhere, somebody is going through something worse, you should just keep your mouth shut, smile and be grateful?
Common times I’ve heard this are, “do you know women in the Middle East aren’t even allowed to go to school? So stop complaining about not getting paid equally. You’re lucky you can even go to college!”
Or, “so he’s not the greatest guy in the world. He’s not beating you! You’re lucky he’s a good one. Be grateful!”
Never mind you are a full human being with a right to be happy. Just quit your bitchin’ because hey! It could be worse.
“So, your kid has aspergers? You know there are kids that can’t even walk and here you are complaining about the way we treat your kid.”
“So, you had cervical cancer and had to have a radical hysterectomy at 32! At least you don’t have stage 4 pancreatic cancer! Then, you’d have something to complain about.”
Those last two are pretty personal. And I’ve always fallen for it. By gosh, you’re right! I’m lucky. It could’ve been so much worse. And it’s true! You know what? It could always be worse. Even if you’re living in a cardboard box, there’s someone somewhere that doesn’t even have a box! Even if you’re behind on your home loan, someone, somewhere doesn’t even have a home!
This is nothing but an attempt to get you to sit down and shut up. I remember learning that everyone’s problems are very real and difficult for them. Of course, it’s horrible that someone else has it worse, but how can you possibly help someone who has it worse if you don’t even feel like you can help yourself?
I remember seeing a therapist because I didn’t allow myself to feel what I was feeling about my job. The way I was treated was tearing me up inside because I knew I had it better than most women. I went to the therapist to see if I was crazy for feeling the way I did. Should I just be happy to be paid well (even though it was less than the guys?) or did I have a point and should I be fighting for myself and the principle? I told him, “I’ve got a great job! I’ve done really well with this place for a woman! I make a good living. I should be happy!”
He said, (and I was not expecting this at all), “Julie, they told the slaves how well they had it–roof over your head, food on the table, to keep them from trying to escape. If it feels wrong to you, chances are that its wrong.”
Now, I’ve no clue of what being a slave was like nor will I ever know, but what he said struck me. Someone always has it worse. That doesn’t mean you stop fighting for yourself. If you don’t, odds are nobody will.