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Hard isn’t a competition, there’s no podium finish for those in the most pain.

But comparing pain CAN lead to a feeling of isolation (for both you AND your friends).

We need to look our hard stuff right in the eye and say ‘I see you’. Dismissing your sadness because you don’t think it’s sad enough, compared to someone else’s helps no one, and in fact can lead to us all feeling very alone during hard times.

Try this activity.

Sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Imagine your kindest friend holding your hand (my hand is completely free today if you need me to hold your hand).

Put your other hand over your heart.

Breathe deeply and give yourself some time.

Let yourself know this is genuine and legitimate pain.

Tell yourself it’s OK to feel sad about this.

Remind yourself you are loved, right down to your bones.

The first times I tried this I cried a river.

I spent SO much time denying the grief of nursing my daughter through cancer.

Lara’s prognosis was always optimistic, so I felt I didn’t DESERVE my pain. I never had to look very much further than the next bed to see someone in WORSE pain than me.

It took a lot of convincing (I’m still working on it) for me to call my pain genuine and legitimate and to NOT compare it to the sadness of others.

Your pain doesn’t have to be childhood cancer kind of hard to be legitimate.

Difficult relationships, lost friendships, lost jobs, are all genuine and legitimate pain.

Try not to compare what you’re going through to others. There’s always going to be someone else who appears to have a more legitimate claim to sadness.

The thing is – someone may be looking at your load and thinking that they shouldn’t feel too badly about what they’re juggling.

It’s all relative.

When you’ve begun to accept your pain as genuine and legitimate and when you’re ready to stand up, imagine your strongest friend with their hand on your back, helping you to stand.

Imagine them with their hand on your back when you need to get through the day with your held high.

Because there’s time for allowing the sadness to flow through us, and there’s a time to stand strong.

If we’re really lucky we begin to be able to understand the right time for self-compassion and the right time for grit.

Remember, the time for courage… is now.

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