I know people who insist that anything which happens to them is worse than anything that’s ever happened to me. I listen to these people talk about the events of their lives and think, “It’s not a competition, my friend; it’s just about getting through the days of our lives.”
The drive to seem to have borne more pain or more complex circumstances forces people into nonstop complaint mode. I understand the dynamics of this process because I have been that person. The worst pain. The saddest day. The hardest struggles. One of my siblings once called me a “person of superlatives”. Somehow, I interpreted that as a compliment. So not.
I understand what drove my need to complain. It’s attention-seeking behavior. I felt lonely; I complained. The person hearing my complaint soothed me, expressed compassion, sympathy or even pity. I got my “Notice-Me” fix and that sustained me.
But so many other ways exists to get the same fix. Do something nice for someone! They’ll thank you and praise you to high heaven — maybe even publicly! though, I have found that I don’t need the public praise; the private thanks satisfies whatever itch previously got scratched by that “poor pitiful me” charade.
Most critically, I no longer need to be worse off than others. I might actually be worse off than others; but I’m letting go of whatever satisfaction I previously gleaned from it. I stepped out of the competition. I took a deep breathe, and let that particular race pass me by.
I’m happy to be on the sidelines of that one. If I’m going to compete for anything, I think I’d rather find something a whole lot more fun. Like, the brightest smile! Who’s with me in that race!?! And just to get us started, here’s a picture of my GOOFIEST smile: