reverse schadenfreude.


That seems cruel. Am I a horrible human being? Maybe. But I cannot be the only one who feels this way sometimes. If I was the only one, there wouldn’t be a word for it. Maybe everyone else who feels it is German.

It’s been a really long time since something great (or even good) has happened to help my current situation. I am not saying that there is nothing good in my life. My friends, my family. There are things. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the things in my life that desperately need fixing (or at least improving). The back pain, the financial situation, the job search, and anything else I try to do or accomplish. The things where I can never catch a break. Those things. The things that always go wrong instead of right. The things that get worse instead of better. The things where the news is always bad never good. The things that remind me every day that I am jinxed.

I’m sure that is why I feel that twinge of happiness when something goes wrong for someone else (for a change)… not just me. Maybe I am a horrible human being.

on the flip side…
Because things constantly go wrong for me, I envy people for whom things go well. It physically affects me. Heart pounding, tears falling. Especially people for whom things go well all the damn time… no matter what they do… whether they try or not… whether they make mistakes or not. Things just work out. Everything just falls into place. That has never been me. I wonder what it’s like to be someone like that. I am so envious. Painfully so.

But that’s not schadenfreude (maybe that was just my jumping off point for this post). What I feel is not so much pleasure at someone else’s pain. It’s more the reverse… pain at someone else’s pleasure. The closest [German] term for that is gluckschmerz… defined as feeling unhappy about the good fortune of others. But most people have never heard this word. The closest English translation is envy… but that doesn’t quite grasp the pain and sadness.

I know I’m not ‘supposed to‘ feel this way. But if I’m honest, and I always am (maybe to a fault), I feel this way quite a lot. Daily. It’s no one’s fault (except maybe mine). It’s not like I sit around wishing for things to go wrong for others. But fuck, it hurts when I’m surrounded by others’ successes… by everyone else’s good news… when mine is always bad. It is painful in every way.

It’s so bad that even others’ optimism can upset me. They have positive thoughts… they have drive and motivation… they have a purpose. Why can’t I feel that way? Why can’t I have any of that? My life is shit by comparison. I know I shouldn’t compare, but really… how can I not?

[Aside: Someone is going to tell me to make good things happen for myself. Please don’t bother. You might as well tell me to make my own happiness (that’s not a thing) or make my own luck (neither is this). I’ve said this easily a billion times: If it were that simple, I would have done it by now. I’m not a fucking moron. Some shit is just beyond my control.]

I don’t know how to stop these feelings of schadenfreude and gluckschmerz. Maybe I can’t. All I know is…

… this leaves me with weltschmerz*.

*weltschmerz: a feeling of sentimental sadness or pessimism; the weariness that comes with knowing that the world is going to let you down no matter what and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.


©2018 what sandra thinks
(but I did not draw that picture of the girl under the cloud… I could not find the source)


About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, sometimes blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Italy, but she would settle for a non-oceanfront home in Italy. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
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49 Responses to reverse schadenfreude.

  1. illusive camo says:

    your posts are always so interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marquessa says:

    I understand exactly what you mean and would be the last person to tell you what you are feeling is wrong because it isn’t. It is what it is. It can truly hurt when it seems so easy for everyone else but you. But I have also come to learn that the beautiful rainbows and magical unicorns in other people’s live are usually not so beautiful and magical. Looks can be deceiving – the stories I could (and will) tell you…later.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Cyranny says:

    I’ve been sitting for a while after reading this and I can’t really find the right words to give an answer to your very honest post. I agree with Marquessa in the sense that envying is tricky, because there is a lot more to the picture than what the eye can see. Because people look like they are living a great life doesn’t mean that they are… Some people are really good at pretending, and you might end up envying people for no reason. With that said, I know we can’t always control our thoughts, so, well… Yeah, not helping here. I’m sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Catherine says:

    I feel for you, completely. This is why I can’t be on Facebook. I’ve tried, several times and it always makes me miserable. It’s full of wonderful things happening to other people, things that I know I will never experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve “liked” several of the comments already made, but I have a hard time “liking” posts like these. No rainbows and butterflies from me on this one, just hugs. 😕😕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. draughtrider says:

    My partner is German, and the propensity for Germans to have a word, a fascinating word, for everything, is, well, fascinating. These are two of my favourites because they speak to my cynical self and reveal my actual feelings of so many things. Shadenfreude not so much, weltschmerz a lot.

    It’s given me a posting idea …

    And good things do happen – but its pure chance and the sh*t sandwiches we usually eat we just need to acquire a taste for and laugh at them in disdain … and on the odd occasion good things happen just bask for the moment and don’t expect it to last. Like an orgasm 🙂 kinda …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve never heard *that* comparison before but it does kind of fit! 🙂

      German words like these fascinate me, too. English is clearly lacking a few essential words.

      I think sometimes when something good happens I’m so buried in crap that I can’t even see it. And the specific things I’m dealing with at the moment–they never improve… they keep getting worse. I feel powerless.

      Glad this gave you a posting idea…


  7. Meg says:

    I agree with Marquessa about the way looks can be deceiving. People usually only share the good stuff. On the other hand, at least they have some good stuff to share so… I get it. I don’t know how to fight those feelings. It’s like when your coworker gets the promotion and you know you’re better qualified. Ugh, I wish I had some answers for you… Sending love ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just so tired of everything going wrong… or turning out negatively. It’s not my fault. Is it? I’m stuck in a dilemma about my back right now and I can’t find a way out. I just need help but no one can make decisions for me and I can’t make good ones. I don’t know how to help myself. I don’t know what’s the right thing to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Meg says:

        You need a health care advocate. Someone to navigate the path for you (or at least with you). I hate to ask, but I suppose your husband isn’t much help? He would be the logical person to step up. Could your mom help at all? Have her go with you to your appointments as a second set of ears and to ask the right questions?

        Liked by 2 people

        • No… husband is no help. My mom is too far away. I don’t need any help and it’s all too much for me. I end up hiding in my bed crying and doing nothing. I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and in a lot of pain. I just don’t want to deal with it anymore… 🙁

          Liked by 1 person

          • Meg says:

            Yes, you do need help. When you are suffering physically and mentally/emotionally, it is extremely difficult to think clearly and to make good decisions. Can you rely on your NP for good advice? If one thing could be solved then it would open the door to other improvements.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Ogden Fahey says:

    It depends how its presented doesn’t it – if someone seems to be having a wonderful time, and it makes you feel good for sharing in it, thats fine and dandy, but if they appear to be rubbing your nose in it, then its fuck you time! LOL Seems to be also dependant on ones mood and personal situation at the time – I for instance, have “Had it” with the royals! I don’t care for their wedded bliss, let them all drive off a cliff, thats what I say! Not the Queen tho, she seems to less irritating and even quite admirable, but not the rest of them, I’m afraid its death! Death to them all!! 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shall we march on the castle with pitchforks in hand?

      Sometimes, it’s obvious someone is trying to rub your nose in it. And there are some people who just constantly talk about their good fortune. I just want to tell them to shut the fuck up!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ogden Fahey says:

        Yeah we should – they need taking down!

        You know when you like really fancy someone, and you’re just taking forever to get your shit right, and then your best friend is in their doing doing so well its like some kind of “exhibition fuck?” Now theres a situation of reverse schadenfreude! 😀 😀 😦

        Liked by 2 people

  9. The V Pub says:

    I like that word. I also like the word weinersnitchel, which the Dong woodworker would like, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mel Gutiér says:

    You just had to use those big fancy foreign words! 😒 Well to your credit… you did include definitions. 😅😅😅

    Love your “aside”. 😀 Ummm… it is a matter of point of view. Not reading other comments to this but… you ARE forking charming!! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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