Monday, 25 March 2013

Banging Your Head On The Wall And Then Complaining That It Hurts

Human beings are funny creatures, they often complain to thin air.

I am guilty of it too, grumbling about the weather, for example. I think there is some natural instinct to do this, because I've seen animals grumble. I think we can allow a bit of grumbling. There isn't always a real authority to complain to.

When there is, when a person or organization exists that we could make an actual representation to, how often do we do it, rather than complain to anyone who'll listen?

I challenge you this morning, to promise to yourself, that next time you have a complaint about anything, you will do the following.

1. To "get it off your chest" you will write out, in full, carefully, exactly what it is that grieves you. Include the desired solution. If you don't know what that is, then you can't expect anyone else to. Now, consider - is that solution possible? I don't mean easy, or fast, I mean possible. For example if the solution would be to be 20 years old again, then it isn't. If it is to obtain $20,000, then it could be. But if it is to obtain $20,000 by this time tomorrow, then it probably isn't. Either come up with an alternative solution, or admit there isn't one.

2. Having found a solution, address your complaint to the person, persons, or organization (yes, even if it's the government) who can actually make that solution happen. Do this quickly, and use what you just wrote out.

3. If there is no solution, or if there is, but it will take a long time, or there is a chance that who you complained to will ignore you or reject your solution, find a way of dealing with it other than whining constantly to anyone who doesn't actually tell you to shut up. Because chances are, most people will listen, kindly, to your frustration. I recommend blogging as an outlet. People then have an option to not read it.

You see, we are often justified in our complaints, but justification isn't enough. If there is a solution, and we do not seek it, then it's no longer a complaint but a whine. If you have a grudge against your partner, your boss, your neighbour, your mother, your teacher, the post office, the bus driver, the police, the prime minister............yes, there will be times when you feel the urge to offload to your friends, and being friends they will listen. But nothing changes that way. So your friends will have to kindly listen again, in a week or a month's time. They may ask you, gently, if you have made a formal complaint to the appropriate party. Even if you say no, they will kindly listen.

Why should they? Why are you abusing your friends in this way?

If there is no solution, because you cannot change the laws of physics, things are a little different. Your friends may even share your frustations, and indulge in a bit of negativity right along with you. You may even find it helps a bit to get it out. But don't make a habit of it. People who whine constantly are extremely tedious.

I recently had a person offload to me that he had very few friends, and those who remained didn't spare much time for him. He did a very silly thing - he asked me for my honest opinion. He asked me if I knew why. I did. He has abused the whine rule. This rule says that if whining is the bulk of your conversation, then even the kindest people run out of patience. It will cause you to be alone, and then you'll have something else to whine about, especially since the solution is in your own hands.

The fact is, if there is a solution, and instead of actively (and perhaps repeatedly, if need be) trying to achieve that solution, you choose to blather on to others (who can't help), then you are simply full of it.

It is my contention that people who do this don't actually want a solution, they just want attention. Well, we all need attention, but that's not the way to get it. It is a form of loud sulking, of saying "it's not fair". I'm sorry to be the one to break it to you, but life is rarely fair, and in particular, people with power over you are rarely fair. But some of them can be appealed to. Try it sometime.

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