It always felt a bit strange to me when, in a group of people sharing stories, there would be some sort of competition, a need to top the others story, with an implicit “I suffered more and I deserve more”. It would sometimes reach a consensus “I went through the exact same thing, I know what you mean”. Maybe it’s a competitive spirit that causes these chain reactions, or a deep need for the suffering to be heard and comforted. There are also people who feed from pain, wear their stigmata with some sort of pride, as they identify so much with their role, that they don’t know how to be without it…martyr super style.
It occurred to me then that there’s this unofficial, but strict law, according to which people should be granted sympathy based on the degree of pain they’re experiencing.
So, if you’ve scraped your skin, you’re more deserving than another who tore a nail, but less deserving than someone fighting cancer. If you had parents who would beat you up, but who provided a home, food, access to education, you’re less deserving than someone growing up with non violent parents, but in the worst possible conditions, without a home or scarce food.
We sometimes decide the measure of sympathy the same way we buy groceries – 1 kilo of tomatoes = 3 sad looks and a hug, 2 eggs = a kind word and let’s move on.
No, we shouldn’t make a big deal out of little pains. The same as we shouldn’t make a big deal out of great ones.
I feel that we should stop judging pain as if it should be aligned to a grid, quantify it by industrial measure and apply quick correcting formulas, as such. Because we are all little universes, with supernovas and comets and planets and black holes, functioning by virtue of steadfast laws and magic.
By virtue of the deserving and undeserving law, people would suffer and feel ashamed; first for suffering, secondly for the degrees of pain – unworthy if compared to others. I think we should tell ourselves that it’s ok to feel bad, that it sometimes guides us to a better self, a better way.
There’s no right or wrong in how to perceive pain. As the creator and owner of your universe, you will see everything immensely, feel everything monstrously. That what for you seems a trifle, it means the end of the world for the person sitting in the bus across to you. And for the suffering to go away, it’s best to acknowledge it – no shame, no measuring of worthiness – accept it and then let it go. Simply by this we would start a brave new world.