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June 29, 2020
Experts say that human judgment is, by nature, comparative. When we evaluate situations, we do so in relation to our own norms and standards. In this way, comparisons help us to create understanding and derive perspective. Yet while comparisons are neurologically natural, they can also be hazardous, especially for these 4 reasons.
“How can you be upset about ____ when people have it worse with ____?” Comparative phrases like this erode emotional validation. You do not have to be grateful that things are not even worse for you. You are entitled to your feelings – whatever they are – and it is very important to acknowledge and not minimize those feelings. In fact, avoiding your emotions can diminish your coping skills.
There is no ranking to feelings. Nor is there medical evidence to suggest that pain is worse than grief or that loss is harder to overcome than fear. Likewise, there is no right or wrong way to feel about something that happens in your life. We feel 100% of our pain, fear, heartbreak etc., and there is no way to measure that against someone else’s experience. We cannot compare responses to struggles because we cannot perceive how other individuals feel their own emotions.
We are diverse, distinct, unique individuals who experience diverse, distinct and unique challenges. Vastly different backgrounds, families, relationships, lifestyles and occupations create vastly different issues. As a result, comparing challenges can be like comparing apples to oranges.
Negative self-talk is inner dialogue that you have with yourself that can diminish your ability to make positive changes in your life or compromise your confidence to do so. By comparing your struggle to someone else’s, you minimize the reality of what you are going through and the feelings that you’ve assigned to it.
Self validation and compassion are much better tools than comparison to overcoming setbacks. Recognizing that we are entitled to our feelings – each and every one of them at 100% – and that we face incredibly different challenges can help us to grow through our difficult experiences with a more positive approach.
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