Comparison is the thief of joy (Theodore Roosevelt)

Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.  (Albert Einstein)

“There are people worse off than me”.

We encounter this mantra often. So say those who believe they are being humble, generous, even helpful or honourable? But are they? What are the consequences for these people, for their families and communities, when that is a prevailing attitude or belief system?

Perhaps it is not whether people believe or say such things but more importantly, whether it influences or directs what they do next. If we agree that the former is a statement of fact, just as there will “always be people who are better off than me”, we can separate the thought or feeling from the action. Just as we can complete a task even though we may be feeling very anxious or having significant thoughts of doubt.

Sadly though, too many people allow sympathy (not always empathy) for others, or a belief about their unworthiness (in the context of others) to prevent their help-seeking. To accept the generosity of others, even if at the expense of the amorphous ‘tax-payer’

Furthermore, if and when people avoid help-seeking, they diminish or compromise their capacity for well-being. They are lacking self-respect, as they are not optimising their own self-care. Under such circumstances, not only is their own health adversely affected, but so too that of their family and community. There are no so-called ‘winners’.

Instead, it is suggested that we acknowledge our empathy for others, then embrace the caring we can receive locally, with grace and gratitude. We cannot control what occurs elsewhere. What we can control, or at least contribute to, is our own well-being. We can take responsibility for self-care. And if we do not, we can never achieve the very best of our potential health.

So when you next hear the aforementioned mantra, perhaps gently and kindly suggest, “I am not sure that is helpful”. Further, successful outcomes are never primarily because of how we feel or think, it is because of what we do. What we do, and what we do next, is always what matters.

Do the positive thing, accept help, so others can give, and mutual benefits will accrue.

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