I feel so sad that I lost my job.
Well, at least you had a good one for a while, I’ve been unemployed for months.
Ugh, I’m lonely.
Welcome to my world. At least you…
My baby died.
At least you got to be pregnant. At least you didn’t get to know them first. At least you…
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have heard “At least…” We are so good at making everything about ourselves. Well, that and just making a feeble attempt to make someone feel better.
I find it incredible how many ways we passive aggressively insult people. From “Oh my gosh, you have WAY too much time on your hands” when someone is sharing their passion, to “Oh, no, not me, I would never/could never do that.”
(My favorite was when I was so sad about going back to work after my maternity leave ended and people said, “Oh, I could NEVER leave my baby and go back to work.” Well, lady, I kind of want a house to live in. So, there’s that.)
The constant battle to be better than everyone else, or to let them know that YOU have it worse is so tiring to me. I think we’ve lost the ability to just support each other. We have lost the ability to be happy for each other and think to ourselves, “How great for her. My time will come.”
When someone is hurting, “I’m sorry. That really sucks,” goes such a long way. Figure out what will help the person and tell them, “I’m going to do this for you. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”
I mean, ok, we all have those people in our lives that seriously just complain about anything and everything. “OMG, you will NOT believe it. The phone rang JUST as I was starting to file my nails. Now when will I do it? I mean, the one is just so bad right now.”
Complainers aside, as humans we need to vent. Sometimes it goes such a long way to just say aloud what is bugging us. However, we need to vent somewhere where we feel safe. Where we know that the person we are spilling to won’t just turn the whole thing around and remind us about how tough their life is.
And honestly, maybe their life is tougher. We all have a story, right? I remember that I was TERRIBLE at this after I lost my twins. In my head I was always thinking, “That’s what’s wrong with you right now? My babies are dead.”
This leads to the biggest problem, though, which I like to call the Pain Olympics. Who is hurting worst? Who needs more attention? Who needs to be comforted more?
Just like any other kind of comparison, it’s hard not to do it. It’s CRAZY hard not to do it. But, we need to try. We need to work so much harder at being active listeners and remember that most of the time there are much deeper issues than what the person can put into words.
And I do understand that sometimes we use at least to try to help the person put things into perspective. There are times when someone just really has it wrong, and you mean well.
But, if you ask me, it’s time to stop qualifying things with “At least.”
What do you think? Has someone done this to you? Have you done this to someone else?