I shouldn’t complain – I only have #first world problems

One of the most frequent things my clients say to me is that they feel bad about seeking the support of a counsellor. They believe because ‘other people have ‘bigger’ problems than them, they should really just be grateful for what they have…they should ‘put up and shut up… they have told themselves, unsuccessfully, to ‘suck it up’.

What kind and lovely clients I have who are so aware of how hard life can be for people and, in the middle of their own suffering, remain grateful that their situation isn’t worse.

But it saddens me that many clients, when they first come to me, don’t feel they are allowed to feel sadness, anxiety or unhappiness – and that they are somehow ‘bad’, ungrateful or failures as people because of these feelings.

Just because the things causing us anxiety, stress or conflict aren’t connected to life, death, poverty or homelessness doesn’t mean these things aren’t capable of causing genuine pain that disrupts our lives and relationships or aren’t worth thinking about and sorting out.

Endless research shows that, to be mentally well, we humans need things like safety and security, a sense of control, emotional closeness; feeling part of a community, privacy, status and a sense of meaning and purpose. Ironically many countries outside the first world meet these needs better than we do – and in fact the first world can be a much harder place to achieve mental wellness.

Being satisfied and fulfilled and feeling like you have the opportunity to lead a good life where you feel able to cope with life’s challenges with confidence is not asking too much – it’s the right of each and every one of us and is within our grasp.

So please don’t ever hold back from seeking help to ease your psychological suffering and find emotional wellbeing. In fact, ironically, this reluctance to seek help in the face of your suffering may be the biggest ‘first world problem’ of all.

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