When I was in college, I went on this retreat up in the mountains. Sometimes it’s really nice to just disconnect from a fast-paced world full of technology and just focus on being in tune with yourself. That’s what this was for me. From the moment we stepped foot off of the bus, the leaders in charge of the retreat made us hand over all of our electronic devices. From that point until Sunday afternoon when we left, we could not have our phones, tablets, iPads, laptops, iPods, or anything else of that nature. Some people were upset about it, but I was okay because I knew that not having those distractions would really help me to get the best experience from the retreat. And it really was a good experience…

I was able to bond with the people there that I never would have had the chance to get to know if we had access to our phones. We played games in the main cabin. We ate food as we sat around by the fireplace and talked. And some of us even ventured out for a hike one night after dinner. I know that if I had my phone with me then I would’ve just ended up using that the entire time, and I wouldn’t have had the chance to hear about their experiences…

During one part of the retreat, we were encouraged to share about a difficult time in our lives. The leaders started off by telling the whole group about their experiences. In that moment, all of the stories had meaning to me, but after four years, most of them have faded away into the depths of my mind. That is, all of them except one.

I won’t go into detail about it because one of the aspects of the retreat was to keep the stories that we heard to ourselves, but what I can tell you is that this guy really went through some hardships. By the time he finished telling his story, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. His pain was so real and palpable that it caused everybody else there to feel his pain too.

Now, when all of the leaders finished telling their stories, we separated into our mini groups where we could discuss our own stories. When my group leader asked us to share, none of us wanted to open up. After hearing that guy’s story anything that we had to say would’ve been the equivalent of comparing the pain of a paper cut to the pain of someone who had just broken every bone in their body. She could sense that that’s why none of us were sharing, so she told us something that has still stuck with me to this day. She said that you can’t compare one person’s suffering to the suffering that someone else is going through. Your suffering is real and painful to you, just like their suffering is real and painful to them. And just because it seems like somebody else isn’t going through something that appears to be that big doesn’t mean that they can’t use your help. And that’s so true.

The person who got the paper cut is in pain, and they still may need help. In that moment they may be feeling really down and out, and you should acknowledge that and help them to get through it if you can. Likewise, the person who has broken every bone in their body is also in pain, and also needs help. They’ll be feeling really down and out, so you should also acknowledge that pain and try to help them get through it.

Positive thinker, pain demands to be acknowledged, and if you can help someone to deal with that pain then you should. You shouldn’t just tell somebody to get over something difficult that they’re going through. Instead, you should lend a helping hand so that they can come out better for it on the other side.


Don’t allow someone else to tell you that your pain isn’t valid. You heartache has value, and shouldn’t be belittled or trivialized. Find people in your life that will take you seriously and help you to deal with it, and cherish them always.