Have you ever been trapped in a conversation with someone who is trying to one up you with the struggles of their life?
You know, you have been battling a cold for 3 weeks; theirs lasted for 5. You just found out your partner has been having an affair; their partner did it to them 3 times ~ each time with their best friend or sister.
Perhaps, you found yourself sharing a trying time with someone. You’ve had it rough for a while now and you were just hoping to unload a little bit and feel a sense of comfort.
No sooner do you begin to speak when your friend starts talking about how it was for them when they went through the same thing 15 years ago. You know deep down inside that your friend’s intentions are good ~ they want you to know that they can relate. They understand where you are coming from. You tell yourself this to get past the little bit of irritation that is beginning to brew in your belly.
When your friend goes a step further and starts describing in detail how much worse their experience was than what’s going on for you, you’re about ready to bitch slap them but you sit on your hands a bit longer.
Tit for Tat
In utter frustration now, you begin to play the same game. Before you know it, you have given one example after another of why your challenges are so much more difficult and horrible than what your friend is describing.
Suddenly, you realize that you have glided down the slippery slope of fighting for your suffering.
I have caught myself in those moments more times than I like to admit ~ on both sides of the fence to be honest.
What is it that makes us so intent on proving that our suffering has been worse than anything anyone else has experienced? What makes us to intent on holding on to the stuff that hurts embedding that much more deeply into our hearts?
I have found myself in a similar scenario when it comes to identifying with my “shortcomings.” Someone offers me a compliment and I begin listing all the reasons why it isn’t true. I find ways to minimize their observation. I do my best not to embrace whatever amazing quality they have just acknowledged. I downplay it ~ ascribe it to something or someone else ~ and in a multitude of ways I dishonor the gift that they just bestowed on me.
Would it really hurt to just say, “thank you?” And then sit quietly with the gift and take it in.
What if we could cling just as tightly to the possibility of our greatness and the potential for wonderful and joyful things happening for us? I bet that life would feel so much more peaceful.
Let’s stop trying to get the corner on the suffering and shortcomings market. This is not a competition that we want to win. And the perceived rewards are fool’s gold. Suffering and struggling for attention, sympathy, and importance all lead down the path of drama. That’s an exhausting road to travel that leaves us depleted, bitter and hopeless.
Next time I find myself in a battle for the “Woe is Me” Championship Title, I am going to back the hell down and hand it over to my opponent.
Let’s get started!
How have you fought to keep hold of your suffering and shortcomings?