I hate this saying.
I see it a lot from abled-bodied people in response to those who are disabled/ chronically ill. It’s also something I struggle with internally. I tell myself that I shouldn’t complain or voice my experience because there are people who are more sick than I am or have a harder situation in life. Being undiagnosed I tell myself ” at least it isn’t _, I have it a lot better than them and should be more grateful!”
Yes it could be worse, it could always be worse. No one has had the end all be all of terrible situations; even when life sucks, it could suck even more. This statement only invalidates others struggles. How is telling someone that their situation could be worse going to help them?
While I do have periods of time where I find it hard to bear and I begin to wallow in my own struggles, they are few and far between. Some level of depression or just general unhappiness comes with the territory of chronic illness. For some it’s all the time and for others it’s episodic, but even the most positive people have times where it all feels like too much. In the times where it feels like life couldn’t be worse hearing that it could be isn’t going to help. Life isn’t a competition especially when it comes to hardships. Who wants to win for losing?
I can see why some people might think this is supposed to be uplifting and positive. While staying positive is a good thing when going through something difficult, telling someone “it could be worse so get over it” only silences them. Disabled and chronically ill people are already a people group who get silenced all the time or just left out of the conversation all together. There are so many things you could say to be helpful instead. For example….
- Is there anything I can do to help?
- I will pray for you (only if the person is religious/ is okay with you offering prayer) or sends positive thoughts
- That must be really hard, if you need someone to talk to, I’m always here.
Most of the time when people are going through something challenging they need someone to talk to or someone to sympathize with them. Very rarely is a reality check going to be a good option; chances are they understand the reality of their situation a lot better than you do. Also going through something tough and having someone else tell you all the ways it could be worse only leads to the you thinking about how other things could go wrong.
Even if you don’t understand someones situation try to be sympathetic. There are a lot of things in life I will never be able to understand due to my privilege: being white, middle class, living in America, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize will people who are struggling with something different than I am. No two situations will ever be same, so let’s build each other up and be there for one another instead of invalidating others experiences.
Lots of Love,