Many people around the world expressed a, ‘good riddance to 2020’ sentiment as the New Year came to pass, but in reality, most of us are still living under pandemic restrictions and that may not change this month or even in the next few months. Vaccines are providing a path to some normalcy, but the process of recovery is slow.
One issue that comes to mind as we approach the one year mark of the COVID pandemic is the concept of the ‘hierarchy of pain’ or the ‘hierarchy of suffering’. New Englanders are hardy enough to make it through the long winters and we may be used to saying, ‘it’s not so bad’, or ‘I’ll survive’ when faced with adversity. However, even if you’re good at working through hard times, it’s important to acknowledge what you’re feeling.
The ‘hierarchy of pain’ concept is what we’re reaching for when we say, ‘at least I’m not in the hospital’ or ‘other people have it worse’. The idea is that if you’re not dying or about to lose your home you shouldn’t complain. There is plenty to be said for creativity and toughness in hard times, but sometimes being tough can mean trying to ignore the anxiety or depression that can come with those times.
Stepping away from that ‘hierarchy of pain’ way of thinking allows you to say, ‘at least I’m not in the hospital…but things have been difficult this year’. That statement can allow you the room to begin working through the stress or anxiety you might be facing. Most people face hard times in their lives whether they are financial struggles, experiences with physical pain or struggles with relationships. How completely we address and solve those issues has a lot to do with how well we can cope with the next difficult time.
If you’re interested in finding out how Upper Valley counseling can help you identify and work through your stressful times, get in touch. We’re ready to help.