Friday, January 15, 2010
My Problem is Worse Than Yours
Some people spend most of their lives playing a spirited game of "My Problem is Worse Than Yours." These are people who compulsively try to top every problem, illness or situation about which others confide to them. If you're having financial problems, their own finances are worse. If you're sick, they're sicker. Or they will even change the topic entirely in order to shift the focus of the conversation to themselves - whichever scenario or malady is applicable to them - the gist being that they're much worse off than you are and that you're lucky not to have their problems. This is not done to make you realize that there are indeed people who are less fortunate than you but to center the conversation around themselves. Such people do not make good friends because they are not good listeners - they're so busy thinking about what they're going to say next that they barely hear what you're saying - and lack the ability to sympathize or empathize (although their responses may seem like empathy at first, but that's why it's easy to fall into their traps). More often than not, their "victims" will leave the conversation feeling worse than when they came into it. If you know such a person, try not to complain about your problems in front of him or her, no matter how serious, because you'll end up aggravated rather than soothed. If you need to vent, it's much better to try and find a truly sympathetic ear. And maybe find better friends in the process.