Don’t let others invalidate your emotions

AB Boyd | Cartoonist

You can’t complain.

Other people have it worse.

There are people dying in [insert any country here].

Do any of these statements sound familiar? Have you ever been venting to someone only for them to retort with one of these phrases? Or have thoughts like these ever bounced around in your head?

Well, don’t listen to them.

Think about it this way. If you had a broken bone, would you avoid treatment just because someone else’s limb was amputated? If you were suffering from a blinding migraine, would you skip the painkillers just because someone has a concussion?

Just because someone says others “have it worse” doesn’t mean your situation isn’t bad. Just because someone tells you that other people are dying doesn’t mean your troubles don’t matter.

Don’t let someone else’s problems make you feel guilty for having your own. And don’t let your own negative thoughts keep you from feeling the emotions you need to feel. We can be our worst critics.

You have a right to feel the emotions you are feeling, regardless of what others have been through. Everyone has different experiences in life, which means everyone handles experiences differently.

For example, one person could be struggling with their academics while another is dealing with depression. A third person could be in the middle of their parents’ messy divorce as a fourth one is spiraling after the death of a loved one.

All four of the hypothetical people mentioned above have problems. They all should be allowed to vent to their hypothetical friends if they need to and they all should be allowed to feel the way they hypothetically feel. It’s all relative.

The coronavirus pandemic stirred a lot of emotions within everyone. Frustration, anxiety and sadness are just a few. And these are just the cherry on top of the chaotic sundae of people’s day-to-day lives.

With the virus comes a lot of unnecessary guilt and comparison. After hearing about other people losing loved ones, suffering or dying because of COVID-19, it can be hard to let yourself feel like you have anything to be sad about.

If you start to compare yourself to someone else, remind yourself that comparison is a waste of time. Yes, this person is objectively struggling with something harder than you. But you are struggling in your own way.

You will never know what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes, to live another person’s life. And no one else will ever experience the exact same things you have experienced.

Have you ever vented to someone, only to hear them try and one up you? After telling someone about your problems, have you ever heard, “Well, at least you’re not [insert another person who has a problem]?” Has anyone ever sidestepped away from your rant session, to start their own rant?

Their actions invalidate your emotions.

Before you go cutting ties with people in your life, think about this. Comparison is ingrained into our society. Those friends probably experience the same thing every day. So instead of starting drama, talk to them. Tell them what they said that made you feel invalidated. Most of the time — if they are a good friend — they will understand where you are coming from.

So don’t hold back the next time you need to rant about a long day. Consider others’ feelings, of course, but their feelings are not the only ones that matter.

Everyone has challenges in life. They are just different. Your problems are problems to you and that is all that is important. Nothing else matters. Just remember:

Your experience is valid.

Your pain is valid.

Your emotions are valid.