Counseling and Testing Center
Coping with Covid-19 (part 3)
- Dr. Karl Laves, (Licensed Counseling Psychologist) Associate Director, WKU Counseling Center
- Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
Today we are going to talk about a rather old expression that people use during hard time. It is an expression that has some value, but it can also cause a lot of irritation or pain. The phrase “it could be worse” is often used when people want you to not feel as bad, as if somehow you don’t know that things could be worse, right? Or even if it could be worse, it is still pretty bad. It is sort like saying look on the bright side.
It is supposed to help by reminding the person to not over-react to the situation. We tend to think that people can control their emotions by using a logical analysis. The person isn’t saying you should not be upset, just that you could probably be less upset. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most horrible thing that could happen, what would you give the situation at hand? Your first break-up might get an eight, but your last break-up might only get a four.
The expression “it could be worse” can also be helpful by getting out of our own heads for a minute and seeing the bigger picture. Sometimes when I catch myself complaining about my job, I remind myself that some people lost their jobs. They would love to have a job to hate. Again, the intention isn’t to make people feel bad for complaining, the intention is to remind ourselves that tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. We get to decide just how bad something is.
Sadly, the expression is often used though to make people feel ashamed or weak. It is kind of like the expression “suck it up.” It makes the person feel like they should be stronger, that they shouldn’t feel pain or fear.
As we go day to day through this COVID-19 epidemic, let’s all take time each day to remember, yes, it could be worse, but it could also be better, and we don’t have to always be smiling or happy or confident. We are in this for the long haul; we will have good days and we will have bad days. I think we might be better off if we stopped saying “it could be better” and started saying “it is what it is.”