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By Nathan Bailey, MA, LPC

We often feel that the “default” life situation is to be free and clear of all worry, disease, hardship, relationship conflict etc. When we experience these things we add to our pain, frustration and grief by comparing ourselves to others who we “assume” don’t have to experience the same types of challenges. 

You’re in good company

Everyone has something. That’s right, everyone. No exceptions. They might not have similar challenges now, but it’s unrealistic to think there’s a “normal” where everything is sunshine and rainbows. We all live through a season(s) of difficulty. Life isn’t perfect and it brings with it times of depression, anxiety, marital discord, chronic pain issues, medical complications and broken friendships. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not broken. We all face some combination of these things at some point. Comparing ourselves with others is like kicking ourselves when we’re already down. Like R.E.M. sings “everybody hurts sometimes.”

As we live through these types of situations, they don’t have to define us. We can choose not to be controlled by our circumstances.  They can become part of our story, not the story. We grow, are strengthened and can even learn how much we’re loved from others’ support (don’t worry, they’ll soon need to depend on you at some point in the future). 

Hard times, times of growth

Hard times don’t need to be the focal point of our life. With a change in perspective they can fade to the background. The reality is that we may have to change or adapt our goals, plans and desires (and may need to grieve their loss) because of our experiences/situations. This isn’t easy by any means, but maybe it leads us to something we’d never considered before. I recently read of a man named Anthony Arvanitakis who was in a tragic accident that eventually led to his losing a leg. As he battled through depression, he found a new niche as a bodyweight trainer, working with people all over the world. He’s gone on to be successful and even publish a book about his experience.  Your situation may not be as life-changing as the loss of a leg, but maybe it’s enough where you need to reexamine the way you’re living. The point is, failure to accept the challenges ahead because we’re lamenting that we’re not like everyone else, leaves us stuck and lost. Tragedy is allowing life to slip by because our focus is on what we can’t do or be and why we wish we were in someone else’s situation. 

Take action

Are you finding yourself pinned down by a hopeless situation? Last week, I wrote about how no matter what the circumstance, we can do something to improve our situation. Maybe it’s just a change of perspective or new skills we can learn from anxiety counseling, trauma therapy or marriage counseling. Maybe it’s making a decision to do something different, set a boundary, or get the medical help we need. It can all start by accepting what’s before us and stop playing the comparison game.

What’s stopping us?

Some of the common barriers include denial, minimization or learned helplessness. We might think if we don’t acknowledge the problem, it’ll go away (like burying our head in the sand). For example, we all know the healthcare system isn’t perfect and that it does sometimes feel like a job to get things set up, approved or scheduled. The thought of taking the necessary steps to meet with a doctor or specialist to deal with a medical issue can seem overwhelming and exhausting. This can’t be a reason not to move forward. Get the help and support you need to make this happen. You can take action to get the ball rolling and you can feel better.  

It doesn’t help to ignore what’s affecting us because we don’t want to be the “needy one” or the one with all the problems. Again, it’s normal that at some point there’s something we’ll have to work through that’s hard. Accepting it’s at our doorstep allows us to get help, take action, and do the work that’s needed to make positive change. 

Let us help you

The therapists at Lime Tree Counseling offer a wide-range of services that can help you face the unfaceable. We have specialists that offer grief counseling, anxiety counseling, trauma therapy and marriage counseling. We can help with chronic pain, substance use counseling or managing the stress of a difficult work culture. Lime Tree provides online counseling in Pennsylvania and online counseling in Colorado. We want to make it as easy as possible to get the help that you need. Schedule with one of our team today and move forward to a better way of life.