I’ve written about this before. I often see clients invalidate their right to be sad or disappointed or angry by comparing themselves to others. Their reasoning is that if someone else has it worse then they have no right to feel those emotions. The problem is that it just isn’t true. While it may be true that other people have it worse, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a right to feel the feelings we have.
Life isn’t comprised of exclusively “either/or” situations. There are actually many more “and” situations. A bad thing happened to me AND something worse happened to someone else. I got very good news AND someone else got better news. I like chocolate ice cream AND I like strawberry ice cream. One thing does not invalidate the other. Nor does it invalidate the emotions that go along with each option. They can exist at the same time.
The mistake many people make is that they confuse their desire to not be “stuck” or to not want to “wallow” in emotions. It is the belief that “I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself.” The danger is that the desire to not “wallow” can often cause people to prevent themselves from feeling the emotions they are having. Intstead it should be a balance. It is perfectly natural and healthy to feel those emotions AND we don’t want them to permanently paralyze us from moving forward.
The answer isn’t denying our right to have certain emotions. It is actually recognizing our emotions and letting ourselves experience them. At the same time we need to recognize that they are the emotions around a specific situation and only about that situation. Other things are happening and will happen in our life. Life moves forward. While we feel the emotions of the moment we can recognize that they are not permanent nor are they exclusive. We have those emotions AND other emotions. The current situation is true AND situations change.
So have your emotions. Know they aren’t permanent and that all of the other emotions still exist, even if they are being crowed out in this moment. They will return. And, if realizing that your situation could be worse helps you feel better, great. But don’t let it invalidate your right to have your own feelings. Like the image says, you wouldn’t tell yourself not to be happy just because someone else is happier, would you?