“Well, it could have been worse!”
I’m pretty sure we’ve all said it at one time or another, in response to someone’s negative experience. I saw it this morning on someone’s Facebook status. The person (after the terrible storms Tennessee saw last night) said, “What a morning. Shingles off roof, fence bowed, and mirror ripped off the car. Thanks, 7 minute storm! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” The first comment someone wrote was, “Could be much, much worse!” Wow, person. Thanks for stating the obvious.
I mean, I know it could have been worse, and much, much worse at that. It always could be worse! I know there were people in Tennessee who probably lost their homes, or maybe even loved ones in the storm last night. That’s bad! And much, much worse. Heck, a tornado could have picked up her house and dropped it on top of the only good witch in a mysterious place created by an architect tripped out in shrooms, murdering the only decent witch of the land. That’s worse…much, much worse! It could always be worse!
I believe that’s an important thing for us all to remember, personally. Like, no matter what we are going through, no matter how bad it is, there is always and forever someone, somewhere in a much, much worse situation. I get that, and believe it with all my heart. Knowing that keeps us grounded, thankful for what we do have, and all that other important stuff. But often, to express that to someone else in their time of just needing support and validation, it really just comes off as a lack of care in that particular situation, and pretty insensitive.
I will never forget my Psychology class back in University the day we spoke about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because the idea of trauma hit me in an all new way that day. The lecturer said trauma is not to be judged by the event or experience, but rather the person’s response to the event or experience. Simply put, one person could chip a nail and be completely traumatized, whilst another person could see someone’s head chopped off and be totally unfazed. Ok, that was a bit of an extreme example, but you get the point. We can’t judge others’ trauma because we have no idea what’s going on in their heads, and therefore it is not fair to compare different people’s situations in a simple, black-and-white kind of way.
People just need to be validated when they are going through rough times. And yes, at some point, it is very important for them to gain perspective, and see the “bigger picture”. But maybe we should be a little more sensitive before we just come crashing in, invalidating their experience and negative feelings, by stating the obvious that “it could be worse”. Because yes, if someone loses a leg, well, they could have lost both, but they are still going to miss that leg. Prematurely telling them it could have been worse is just rude. Maybe just validate their feelings, and wait a bit before you try and help offer perspective. I mean, I guess your response could have been worse; you could have shot them in the face or something.