In Spanish, the expression is not as optimistic ‘mal de muchos, consuelo de tontos,’ meaning something very different. In Spanish, it comes to mean that it’s silly to believe that finding comfort in other people’s similar problems is foolish. I don’t agree with the Spanish version, I believe in the English expression because I do find comfort knowing that I’m not the only person suffering, that it’s universal and I’m not an oddball.
While knowing that we are not alone in the same boat doesn’t solve our problems there is comfort to be found, a sort of relief which helps lift the weight of whatever we are experiencing.
That’s why A.A. and similar programs work. It’s in the brotherhood or sisterhood where we find solace and therefore strength, knowing that whatever we are going through can be overcome after having others share their own battles. Telling our stories does make us stronger, by unburdening ourselves from the weight of our own misery.
We are not alone. Many suffer like we do, in different ways but often in similar situations. We may learn to tackle life differently when we hear how others have fared.
In time, with age, we learn to listen and open up to others, which in turn, invites people to open to us as well, making sorrow less.