Today I heard a person say, “but my issues are so much less than my friend’s, he’s going through the same thing only ten times greater than me.” This person held a belief that she did not have a right to experience pain around said issue, she was invalidating her own experience because it was, in her mind, less than that of her friend’s. She was invalidating due to a judgment she placed on the situation.
I have come across this often in the work that I do. We use many mechanisms to invalidate our issues, guilt, shame, empathy and compassion for other but not for self, we can create many defenses against feeling pain. Whatever the mechanism, it is an invalidation of the self, and it is not appropriate. All of our issues are valid, no matter how big, no matter how small, even if they are the size of a hang nail.
When we experience an issue with someone or something, we usually experience some form of emotional pain. Pain is an indication that something within our system is out of alignment. This is a warning system, saying look over here, pay attention! Our issues and our emotions and pain around those issues are all part of a system of information helping us to know when we are out of alignment. It is our job to honor our experience, feel our feelings and face whatever the issue is that has come into our awareness, so that we can move back into alignment. And so, no issue is invalid, it is simply information helping us stay in a healthy position.
Also, our pain is our pain. It is no one else’s. It may be true that someone you know has been through so much more than you. This should in no way invalidate your experience. You are experiencing your pain as a guidance system for you, it has nothing to do with anyone else and vice versa. Telling ourselves we won’t listen to our pain because someone else has had a more difficult time than we have is like not watering our potted plant because our neighbor owns an entire garden. Telling ourselves we won’t listen to our pain for any reason is like looking at the “check engine” light on our car and ignoring it until our car breaks down. Sorry to mix metaphors but hopefully this makes sense. There is never a reason to invalidate your own pain or ignore an issue, no matter how big or how small.
Let me take a moment to say, there is a difference between validating an issue and working on it so that you can come back into alignment and using an issue to gain attention or sympathy. Using an issue to gain sympathy is simply another issue indicating that we are out of alignment. This issue also deserves to be honored and validated, so that it can be addressed and worked on, rather than judged. Judgment serves only to shut the entire system down causing us to stay in a position of misalignment and keeping the issue in place.
So no matter what the issue of the day, try to soften any judgment you have around it. Accept, with all the self-love you can muster, that this is worthy of attention, feel the feelings and begin working through it so that you can shift back into a healthier alignment, even if it’s just a hang-nail.