Monday, July 16, 2012

Paper cuts and fence posts

Some time ago, one of my friends was telling me about something painful or stressful in her life. After telling me what was going on, she said something like, "But I shouldn't complain. There are so many people who have it so much worse than I do."

We often feel the need to apologize for our expressing our stress and pain, don't we? Liz recently posted about how much she's minimized her stress. How she knows she has a great life, but has realized she has to face up to the reality of the stress she's feeling. Good for her!

When my friend apologized for complaining (considering everyone who has it worse than she does), I told her, "Hey, the fact that your neighbor got impaled by a fence post, doesn't make your paper cut hurt any less."

If you live in a developed country (like America) you are probably aware of the vast numbers of people around the world who are far less fortunate than you are. Even nearby, you might have friends or family members who are battling life-threatening illness. You may know someone whose marriage is breaking up. Whatever you're going through, you can almost always find someone who has it worse.

But that doesn't make your stress and pain any less valid! Pain hurts, whether it's "little pain" or "big pain." And we're wired in such a way that we need support...for the little stuff and the big stuff.

So my encouragement to you is this: Seek out the true friends around you. (That includes "real life" friends and "virtual" friends!) And when you're hurting, tell them about it. Don't apologize for it. It's okay to reach out. It's good to reach out! And part of the joy of vulnerability is when you get the chance to be there for your friends too.

I'm glad I can be there for my friends, and I'm glad they're there for me...for the big stuff and the little stuff. Because whether you've been impaled by a fence post or you have a paper cut, you deserve support.


Annelie said...

Just the thing I needed to read this morning.
Thank you.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Thank you. Even if I wrote that post... I still need reminding. I'm working on it. And being aware that it's ok to validate my pain, my stress, my funk is an important step.

Call Me Cate said...

Thanks, Beth, for the great post. I often feel guilty over how stressed certain situations become for me. And then I have to remember that a) I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder that's going to make my reaction a little not-normal and b) it may just be a paper cut but it's MY paper cut.

I try hard to keep things in perspective (it's a great coping mechanism for the out-of-control anxiety) but we're all dealing with things and it's not a contest. People don't win and shouldn't dismiss others because we have a fence post and they only have a paper cut.

Amanda said...

Great post, Beth! I'm definitely guilty of trying to brush off whatever is stressing me by saying, "other people have it way worse; I shouldn't complain." Luckily, I have some pretty great friends who remind me that if something is going on, big or small, it's okay to talk about it and ask for help!