Wednesday, 25 September 2013

And yet, you are still here.

It is a normal part of human nature to complain, and I deeply distrust anyone who never does it.  Being positive is a good thing, ALWAYS being positive is slightly suspicious.  Somewhere there is a balance, and while it's going to vary from person to person, and situation to situation, there are those who just complain too much.

In fact, they seem to make such a habit of it, that it's possible they are just flapping their gums, and we shouldn't take it seriously. After a while, we probably don't. We tune them out because we've heard too much of it, and then they wonder why they are ignored, but that's how it goes.

People complain excessively about all sorts of things. Their job, their boss, their colleagues, the traffic, their spouse, their kids, their inlaws, their neighbours, the weather, the government, TV, the state of their house, insects, pens that don't work, the price of bacon, and so on.

As you know, I sell online, and at Etsy there are forums for buyers and sellers, and I look in there most mornings, both to stay abreast of changes and to help out those with problems. I like to help, I am solutions-oriented, and some of the problems that arise are genuine.  I enjoy selling at Etsy but it's not problem-free, so we help one another out.

However, there are those who complain loudly and frequently. Endlessly, in fact. They complain about everything Etsy does, they even complain about their customers.

And yet they are still there.

I am an immigrant. I came to Canada of my own free will, and I have made it my home. After 20 years I am aware of its flaws, but every country has flaws. This one has few enough that I'm happy to stay here. I meet other immigrants. They complain loudly and frequently. Endlessly, in fact. They complain about everything Canada does.

And yet they are still here.

I have a friend who has been married several times. It takes two to tango; despite that she is quite convinced that each man she married was responsible for the end of the marriage.  The pattern suggests maybe not exlusively, but she married again anyway.  She complains about her current husband. She complains loudly and frequently. Endlessly, in fact. She complains about everything he does.

And yet she is still there.

I know many, many people who complain about where they live. They chose to live there, nobody marched them there. They complain loudly and frequently. Endlessly, in fact. They complain about everything that goes on where they live.

And yet they are still there.

Insert your own example here.

Do people just love to complain, or is it more about inertia?

We can't change everything, at least not easily or quickly, but we do have certain choices.


If your adult kid, still living at home, is a pain in the arse, move him out OR accept it was your fault and shut up.

There is an old joke that goes "Doctor, Doctor, when I do hurts!" and the smart-arse doctor says "So, stop doing it." And this isn't as crazy as it sounds, because how many people have self-inflicted medical conditions? 

We are flawed creatures. We make mistakes. We regret decisions.

But we don't have to whine about it. We can take full responsibility for our choices, and change them, or suck it up.

Complaining, when change is an option, is called whining.

Now, I KNOW there are reasons why you can't change things. Your job is especially difficult to change, and so are your family. But how long is a reasonable time to suffer before it becomes masochistic?

Let's look at it another way. If you have a headache, which could be cured by a pill and a glass of water, it makes sense to take the pill. Perhaps you don't take it immediately, you put up with it because you are busy. Or you try to get rid of it with peppermint tea or some other method. But there comes a point where suffering the pain unnecessarily becomes ridiculous. If you've had a headache for several hours and not made the effort to take a pill, you really are being rather foolish.

But being foolish is your prerogative. It is the other aspect of this that I'm calling you out on.

If you've been complaining to anyone who'll listen, repeatedly, over several hours, about your headache, and still not taken that pill, you are more than just a fool. Somebody, sooner or later, will tell you so, too.

And what causes heahaches? There are HUNDREDS of reasons. But let's say, for the sake of argument that this one was caused by having your computer monitor in the wrong position. This can happen. You have your neck at a funny angle to look at it, and the craning of the neck leads to a headache. The solution is to move the monitor, but instead of doing that you drive everyone around you batty with your whining about your headache. Every day. Day in, day out.

How long would you expect people to tolerate it?

And of course, not everything in life is as easy to fix. Not everything can be fixed immediately with a pill, and long term by a new monitor arrangement. But the length of time people around you are willing to tolerate your inaction and whining, is directly proportionate to the difficulty that making a change would involve. They will cut you some slack. If you have issues with your neighbours, nobody will expect you to move house in 24 hours, and they will listen to a certain amount of complaint, for a while.

But there's a limit. There comes a time where it looks like you are doing nothing to remedy the situation, and/or YOU JUST ENJOY WHINING.

I repeat, we all need to get things off our chests from time to time, and that's what friends are for.

But if it hurts when you do that......for how long do you plan on doing it?


  1. Lesson learned a long time ago (but I have to paraphrase it because the Americans don't know what a spanner is): Don't grumble. Grab a spanner.

    Or as someone else put it: Do you want the world to be a better place? Great! Grab that broom and start in that corner.

  2. This made me laugh! I know so many negative people who whine all the time... And that whining accomplishes NOTHING (unless you count alienating one's friends...)

  3. Oh yes. And I am so with you about the immigrants! I know some like that. I don`t like to stereotype, but Germans seem prone to it. It really irks me when they assume I will be on their side in this attitude because I am a fellow immigrant. I often feel like telling them there is a plane going back every few hours.

  4. Excessive whiners are attention seeking emotional vampires. I would expect anyone to complain about something from time to time.. That is perfectly normal and there are times in life where the world seems a little bit darker and support and comfort are needed but as my husband likes to frequently say, "People have about 15 minutes of time and energy and empathy and sympathy to give away and then they must move on and deal with their own crap". Which is very true.

  5. Thank you all for "getting" what I was saying.