Someone asked me yesterday whether there is some therapeutic benefit to telling a client what they went through wasn’t that bad and others had is worse.
My first reaction was to shake my head. Who would say something like that to a person unless there is an intention to hurt? It sounds so puntive and discounting of a person’s emotional pain.
My advise was to go back to the therapist and express how this statement has made her/him feel. Asking for clarification and what intention the therapist had when making such a comparison. Of course there is always someone on this planet who has had experiences that were worse than our own. Thats not a hard thing to figure out.
On the other hand, sometimes you come accross a person who is very attached to her/his traumatic experience(s) so that being a victim of abuse/trauma becomes a life-position. I liken it to
“Going through through life as if you are driving in a car looking constantly into the rear-view mirror.
It’s easy to see that such a driving habit comes with huge dangers. The driver is bound to crash into all sorts of objects and obstacles and is a menace to him/herself and others. A challenge like the the above statement might help such a person to move out of the victim position and look into the future rather than ruminating about past experiences most of the time. However, I hope people are able to find more effective and gentler ways of shaking the foundations of a habitual victim-position of helplessness and hopelessness.
Sometimes a critical statement like the one above does not come from a therapist or other people in our lives, but from ourselves. We give ourselves a hard time for ‘not getting on’ with things. Rather than joining the blame-game and giving yourself a hard time, a much better question would be “What resources do you need, what skills do you need to learn, what self-care practices do you need to apply to be able to start looking into the direction you are driving: FORWARD!