in Project HOPElast month


In the country where I was born, Nigeria, people have a tendency to belittle other people’s problems, pain and experiences in general. It’s one of the constant things in Nigeria. No matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter the experience or story you recount in the presence of an average Nigerian, they would always find a way to belittle your experience by telling a similar story or a more gruesome story. It sounds far-fetched but every Nigerian reading this already knows what I’m talking about.

If you narrate a story of how you survived an accident where the car flipped over to a group of randomly selected people from this country where I reside (if you have noticed, I’m restraining from claiming this country as my own), someone would most certainly tell you another accident survival tale where they themselves or a certain unnamed relative left the scene of an automobile crash unscathed after the vehicles involved somersaulted multiple times. If you tell a story about how you survived a gunshot, they would most likely retaliate with a story of a relative surviving a Tony-Montana-esque shooting.

Some of them don’t even know or think that they are doing anything wrong; they might think they are trying to help but they just end up winning the pity Olympics. If you are one of those people that always has a spare sad story in store, please just stop. It is insensitive and it reeks of a lack of empathy.

In my experience, whenever someone is in a jam, the chances that what they are experiencing is really hard on them are really high and they would have most likely not had that type of problem before. For example you don’t tell someone that just failed to get admission into the university how you, or a relative failed to get admission into the university eight times before they finally succeeded and how they are doing well for themselves now.

I don’t claim to know it all or to even know anything at all but once any matter is of importance to anybody, then it is serious to them. it doesn’t matter if you think it’s a non-issue or if you have experienced that particular situation a million times over, if you cannot give the affected party a reasonable course of action to follow, then I think you should leave them alone.

To a teenager, or a growing child, to who that crush not smiling back at them is their biggest problem, don’t laugh it off as childish concerns, and treat it as a worthy problem that requires solving.
To a graduate looking for a job, don’t tell them how you searched for employment for three years and how it has turned out to be alright for you in the end. Tell them where to apply for a job or better yet, you can employ them.
This is just my two cents.


A very well thought article! To belittle someone's problem is indeed like going to the pity olympics lol. I think that this is a listening problem, as too many people rush to talk, instead of actively listening to the other person. I find it also disturbing and disrespectful and this kind of post is a reminder that we must keep ourselves in check and always wonder : am I trully listening?

Very wonderful reply I must say... Listening is a skill that many people do not have and funny enough people just want someone that will listen to them.

Thank you for replying

My pleasure!

Hehehehe. I'm Nigerian, I know what you mean. LMAO.

You're right, Nigerians do this. The thing is, Nigerians love stories too much. When you tell them about a bad experience/problem they look at it like 'its story time!' So they tell their own spare stories🤣🤣🤣

It can have a bad effect on the person who initially presented his problems, truly. I think there are times when this should be done and times when it shouldn't be done.

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