Handling the person that is always worse that you.

Florida is still recovering from Hurricane Irma, but just listening to people tell their stories, I want to talk about the person that needs to always “one up” you.  Everyone in Florida has a story to tell, some worse some not so bad.  Everyone is talking about the hurricane, what happened to them, and their experience as what they went through the recent ordeal.  At a local 7-11, I heard two men talking and it was hard to tell who was the “one up” man, because they both seemed to be trying to fight for that right.

Over the years in treatment, I have worked with many people around this issue, and have met many of them personally in my lifetime.  I wanted to share my thoughts, and get you thinking about it as well.  Many people struggle to feel needed or wanted, and crave attention and support.  They seem to think that if they talk about the issues in their life, they can get support and attention and that makes them feel better.  Those people need support too, but they can be frustrating, especially when they are someone that you care about.  They struggle to hear what you are saying and to offer any empathy or support in return.

One of the key things to remember, when talking with a person who is struggling like this, is to understand that this is one of those times when you can’t “win”, so don’t try.  Hopefully there are other people in your life that can provide a better level of support for you, as you struggle through a difficult event.  Talking to someone who needs their life to sound worse than yours is pointless, when you need help, and will only cause frustration. 

So what are your options when faced with this situation?  If you are in a good place to provide support, provide some support as you can.  It will help the person feel better for the moment, but won’t fix the situation long term.  Remember that your job is not to convince the person that you have it worse than they do or convince them they are okay.  They have to figure that out and get help if they need it.  Your job is only to be respectful, and leave the situation if you are not able to provide anything to them at that time.

There are times when I interact with the “know it all”, and sometimes I have the energy and the stamina to provide some support and encouragement.  After all, you never know when they will decide it’s time to make changes in their life.  But if you are stressed, and struggling yourself, be respectful, and move on to your tasks at hand.  Don’t try to get support from them if it will only make things worse.  They may be having a bad day, and maybe they can be supportive at times, but if the conversation is not helping you, don’t stay in it.

So many people are struggling with life situations, not just around hurricane Irma, but with medical conditions, other trauma, and financial problems.  They do need support, but if you are not in a good place, it’s okay to move on with your life.  It’s hard enough at times to just manage your own issues.  Staying happy means knowing when to help and knowing when to walk away, and in this case, walk away.  You will be happier for it.