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Why “at least…” isn’t a helpful way to look at things

Why “at least…” isn’t a helpful way to look at things

I’m generally a positive person; looking for the good in the world, trying to see the best in people, and dusting myself off to bounce back again when things go pear shaped.

I have an internal dialogue running on a frequent basis, and when things seem to be going in the wrong direction, I’m often found to be giving myself a harsh talking to.

“At least we have a roof over our heads”, “at least we have food on the table”, “at least Heidi is stable”, “at least Heidi is here…”.

A long list of reasons why I shouldn’t grumble.

But in a recent training course (Mental Health First Aider training, highly recommend), I realized that my pep talk wasn’t really helpful.

I also realized that I have also used my “at least…” take on events with other people, to try and find a silver lining, or a glimmer of positivity when things have been tough.

It’s with the best of intentions and I’m sure (I hope!) I’m not alone; we want other people to be ok, we want to show them what they have, all the good stuff even if they aren’t seeing it themselves.

So “at least…” has never been with any malice or meant to be condescending.

What I now know, is that sometimes you just need to acknowledge that things feel rubbish.

Yes, there is “always someone worse off than you” (how many times have you heard that one?), but your feelings (and mine) are valid and need to be recognized.

Telling yourself “at least…” probably only makes us all feel worse.

I know it did with me!

I felt awful for having a whinge about something (and let’s face it, it can be the smallest thing that tips you over the edge) when I knew that other people were having a really challenging time in comparison.

I felt guilty.

But the feelings of guilt didn’t take away my other emotions, so I ended up a big unhappy ball of whinginess and guilt!

My inner voice is now trying to be much more productive, and kinder to myself, and I would encourage you to do the same, if any of this sounds familiar.

Even the most positive of people can have an off day or week, and especially in current Covid circumstances, it’s more than expected.

We all know it’s ok not to be ok, but if that not ok is lasting a little too long or is having a significant impact on your daily being, then please do have a chat to someone.

I genuinely believe that asking for helps is a sign of strength (as you can see from the pic we’re in the Strong Girl’s Club).

And if someone comes to you feeling anxious or low, and your go-to phrase (like me!) would have been “at least…”, why not try “I’m so sorry you feel that way”, “that sounds like it’s really difficult”, or “how can I best help you?”.

I’m sure they’ll be glad to know you care.

Firefly Blog

Real life stories, issues and experiences of day to day life by special needs parents and
healthcare professionals.

Sarah Kay

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An honest (and hopefully positive!) chat through the rollercoaster journey we have found ourselves on; hopefully to raise awareness of HIE and support others who may be on their own journey.

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