Be Willing to Lose the Suffering Contest

In Geneen Roth’s book, When you Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair, her chapter called “Be Willing to Lose the Suffering Contest” really hits home. She discusses how women often keep themselves miserable either consciously or unconsciously as a way to relate to others. We too often put other’s feelings ahead of our own and sacrifice being truthful to ourselves and experiencing truth to ourselves.

She discusses a woman who had saved up enough money to take the summer off to travel and how she sat home and ate doughnuts the entire first day and made herself miserable. When asked to talk about it, she basically said if she did what others wouldn’t want to do (gain ten pounds), her friends wouldn’t be jealous or upset with her.

I thought this chapter was so interesting because there’s so much truth to it. I’ve always been a person who has made my own happiness and I’ve also been independent and had few friends. I find that when I’m happy and talk about being happy, I have very few friends who want to hear about it. However, during the times I’m not content and have something to complain about, my friends seem to suddenly relate to be better.

Geneen Roth’s acknowledgement and confirmation of these behaviors between women were refreshing. Once it’s in front of me in black ink, I can see that being too happy may be off-putting to others. After all, misery loves company; apparently happiness does not.

I thought about a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago when she was talking about her relationship coming to an end. She then said, “it must make you happy to know you’re closer to what you want than I am.” I immediately, without thought said, “No, I want all of my friends to be happy and get what they want.” Right after I said it, I realized it was pure truth. I hadn’t needed to think about that response. I really do want others to be happier because it makes me happier to be around them.

Honestly, this book has been an amazing read with lots of thought provoking insight. I really wish all the women I care about would read this book and really think about the messages. The messages are so simple but would make a huge difference in relationships if everyone followed even a few of the tidbits of advice.

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