I used to be part of a drama ministry. In rehearsals, we would sometimes play a game (of course, I can't remember the name of it) that went something like this: you tell a story, the next person tries to one-up you, and so on. For example, I might say, "I have a papercut on my finger." The next person might say they had hit their finger with a hammer. The scenario would go on until someone's finger had been chopped off or fallen off from some hideous disease. Quite a fun game!
The past four years, I think I've sort of been in hiding. I've not allowed myself to get too close to anyone, or anyone too close to me. I've recently started to emerge from hiding, and have been opening myself up to the possibilities of close friendships again, and getting to know people. What I'm finding is that, in general, people play the one-up game in real life. I don't think it's done intentionally or with malice. And, I'm quite certain I've been plenty guilty of it myself. But I'm trying to make myself aware of it so I no longer do it.
Here's an example of how it goes in real life: "I'm so tired from work lately." Instead of your pal asking what's going on at work, and encouraging you to relax, get some rest, and take the matter to God, the response is usually something like this: "Well, you can't be as tired as I am...let me tell you why..." And, so it goes. I think this is the easy button! It's easier to focus on how much worse our situation is than to be an encourager. I think it's easier because those conversation usually only involve surface talk.
Encouraging someone takes a bit of work and some commitment. It requires us to pray for our friends, check in to see how they're doing, maybe even take some time out of our busy lives to lend a listening ear. It requires that we not judge them. Yep, I said it. We need to realize that we don't walk in their shoes, and we don't know how we would react or respond to situations until we're in them. So instead of one-upping someone today, take the time and make the effort to be an encourager.
Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2