Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Complaining about a problem without a solution is called whining.” While we all need to vent on occasion, most of us would be wise to take stock in just how much we complain.
There are times when a session of protesting all of life’s injustices with a close friend can be absolutely cathartic, especially when our friend empathizes with us, assuring us that our feelings of anger are spot on. Still, I suggest that the times we indulge in this ritual remain few and far between and limited to our most intimate BFF, whom we completely trust. Otherwise, we’re better off keeping our lips sealed.
While complaining may offer you some temporary relief from your fury, it doesn’t really solve any problems. And while your friends may have your best interests at heart, they don’t walk in your shoes, so if you go to them for counsel, be prepared for unwanted advice that you may end up resenting. Remember, once you share your problem, you can’t take it back. If you value your relationship, you don’t want to jeopardize it just to get someone else’s input.
A problem with your marriage or your children is very personal. To disclose it to anyone else can be in some ways a betrayal of that family member’s trust. Besides, you may be implicitly asking your friend to take sides, and that can backfire on everyone involved, especially when you get past your anger and you’re ready to forgive.
Confronting a loved one with a complaint—especially over and over—is nagging, which can be extremely damaging to any relationship. A much better choice is to talk with the family member or friend in a non-blaming way about your feelings in response to his or her behavior. Together you can negotiate a win-win solution to your perceived problem.
The act of complaining also has a way of transitioning into gossip about a third party who may have offended you, perhaps without even meaning to do any harm. It’s patently unfair to talk about someone behind his or her back. Other people have a right to form their own opinions about someone, and the person in question has a right to make their own impression on others as well. Besides it can make you look petty and signals friends that you’re likely to complain about them, as well, which undermines their trust in you.
Some people have developed a habit or complaining. If you have even a teensy-weensy tendency to complain, perhaps it’s time to remind yourself to stop. Note the times you complain throughout a day or a week. Rather than punish yourself when you complain, reward yourself when you don’t. This may give you the motivation to quit, once and for all.
There’s an axiom that, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” I know the REAL YOU has a great mind. You’re a much bigger person than any weak actions may indicate. Aspire to bring out that great person inside you who needs self-expression and loving relationships. It feels so much better to be happy and positive than to experience remorse when you complain to a loved one or say something hurtful about someone.
If you’re hard-pressed for something new to talk about, develop a fresh curiosity about the world around you. There are fascinating things to learn everywhere we look. What excites you? What moves you? What mystery would you like to unfold? How would you most like to spend your time? What could you do to make the world a better place? Incorporate the topics that most interest you into your conversations. You’ll find avenues of enjoyment that you had overlooked.
Idle complaining is always futile; on the other hand, taking the time to come up with a solution to a problem is time forever well spent. It just takes a simple but enormous shift in attitude that everyone will notice, including you. Instead of being the one to focus on problems, be the woman who comes up with creative and caring solutions to the issues that concern you. You’ll feel the empowering freedom of increased self-esteem. And the universe will thank you.