When we are hurting, it's so easy to focus on ourselves. We dwell on the pain, wonder why we have to experience difficulties, and get angry when it seems like we're the only ones suffering so much. I apologize if you're not one who does this - perhaps I should change my wording to make this apply only to myself. It's so easy for me to focus on myself when I'm hurting. And I tend to forget that others are hurting, too.
I remember first comprehending this idea when I worked at Starbucks. If I was having a bad day and was treated rudely by a customer, I was rather offended. Sometimes I wanted to tell the customer exactly what I was going through that day, just so they would feel guilty for having made it worse. And then once, in the middle of my inner vent (I never allowed myself to show my frustration to customers), it occurred to me that maybe this person was having a worse day than I was. Sure, my boyfriend broke up with me and I thought my world was ending. But maybe she was going through a divorce, or maybe her father died, or maybe she had recently received news that she had a terminal illness. There was never any way to know for sure, and sometimes people are just bitter and rude. But what if there was a reason, what if that person was hurting, more than I was? It seemed like a good idea to assume that what they needed was not an equally offensive reply from me, but a kind smile, something that might offer them the slightest hope.
It happens in day-to-day life too, when I'm going through something particularly difficult and I don't hear from a friend. I wonder why she's not reaching out, and think she must know what's going on, and why isn't she being there when I need her, and what kind of friend is she, anyway? It doesn't often occur to me that she's experiencing her own pain, and can barely muster the strength she needs to get through her day, let alone shoulder some of my burden.
Facebook and blogs (yes, even mine) are evil players in this ridiculous game. Few people actually advertise their difficulties for the world to see. Rather, they show only the best, happiest times, convincing everyone else that their lives are nearly perfect. So it may appear to me that everyone else has no trouble or problems and that I'm the only one who keeps getting knocked down. But it's not truth.
We all hurt. We all have hard things. No one is exempt from pain in this life. Some people have a harder time than others, and some are better at dealing with disappointments than others. But before I start feeling angry about being the only one to face hard times, perhaps I need to remind myself that everyone is dealing with something, and that if I was fully aware of what others were dealing with, I'd be thankful for my own issues. We go through seasons, and sometimes it's all sun and sometimes it's all rain, and sometimes I'm not aware when my friend is going through something unimaginable. But to believe I'm the only one in a storm? That's just ignorant.
I recently read, "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back." Seems true. Perhaps we should start giving people the benefit of the doubt and open our eyes to their hurt and how we can help them, rather than growing in bitterness for our own misfortune.
Just a thought.