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A number of years ago, I’d just experienced a disastrous year and was lamenting to a friend about all the things that came crashing down around me. Her response was something like I can imagine my mother saying “Oh Maryanne! Your life isn’t so bad. Just imagine what the life of someone living in the Congo is like compared to yours!”

I get it. I am very grateful for what I have, for where I live, for my friends and opportunities. I would not even compare myself to a woman or man living in worse circumstances than mine.

And that’s the point: I hear a lot of my clients begin what they are about to say regarding the pain they’re in with a self-dismissal: “I know this is silly”, or “I can’t understand why this hurts so much”, or “My problems are so tiny compared to others”. Embarrassed that they are hurt, feeling unworthy of having hurt feelings. My work with them, if they come with this baggage, begins with respecting and owning their right to feel hurt, without comparing themselves to others who might “deserve” it more.

My message to anyone who feels like there’s something wrong with them for hurting is this: it doesn’t matter your circumstances. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting. You have a right to say “ouch”!

No need for comparrisson, or self-denigrationn, or second-guessing.

“When you sit on a pin you say “ouch!”. You don’t say “Thank god I didn’t sit on a nail!” from Elsie, a friend of a friend.



If you’re a worrier, or someone who dismisses your own pain, take a look at my online program that starts up in October – Burning the Candle at Both Ends.

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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at .


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