"I Don’t Like To Complain"

Photo credit: nzks

I read a lot about positivity, and training your mind to see the brighter aspect of any situation. But when I get down, I do not have a lot of experience with realistic evaluation of experiences. I tend to see any experience as either good or bad, as my fault if it is negative, and in spite of me if it is positive. I absorbed a futilistic mind set from childhood, without my family’s or my realization it was happening. So when I do finally give up and embrace the depressing side of a problem, I go overboard. I throw out any good things as I focus on the bad–no one called me today, I lost income, I made a mistake, something bad is happening to someone I love and I can’t help it, there are good things I want to do, but x, y, or z stands in the way. It’s all hopeless, and I should just eat worms and die.


When I keep my pain locked away in myself, a stray negative thought can blossom into a full depression hurricane, where I denigrate my accomplishments, ignore happy things around me, and sacrifice my energy and health in bouts of crying, anger, and blaming those around me for perceived slights. Why don’t I reach out to someone else in these bad times? “I don’t like to complain.” “I don’t want to be negative.” “If other people knew I had this problem, I would be lessened in their eyes.”


Recently I tried to encourage a friend who was down. In a feat of tremendous hyprocrisy, I urged him to confide his problems in others, to “get the pain out.” And he used my line. “I don’t like to complain.” As often happens, being of the receiving end of my words opened my eyes to a new viewpoint.


Why is it helpful to share our burdens with each other? If I am sad, and I tell you I am sad and why, won’t I just make you sad, too? Sometimes, yes. I have heard conversations where two people get together and focus on all the bad in themselves and in the world. The conversation often becomes cruel, cyncial, and cutting. I get depressed hearing it second-hand, and the people involved do not seem uplifted at all while they are together. But I don’t usually have such conversations. When I share a problem with a friend, my friends react differently. I have been blessed with proactive friends who help me turn problems around.


How do these wonderful people help me? They are first caring, then try to help me see the problem realistically, and then we try to solve it together.

  • Caring. Letting someone know your dark places or failures is scary stuff. In a society built on projecting a positive, successful, happy persona, admitting that you ate a box of cookies and spent the day hiding from people because conversation was too taxing is an exercise in vulnerability–and is not something you find recommended in a Tony Robbins seminar. But everyone has down times. Grief and sadness are natural stages in life. They can come on from events big or small, from events such as death or illness bringing loss into our lives, or when our current situation is not where we want to be, or we hit one too many red lights on the way to work on a rainy day. The brooding nature of sadness can, when expressed and used correctly, give us time to look at problems, see what we want or need to change, and move toward a happier future. But most of us need someone to accept us at our saddest in order to properly process our emotions and reach that proactive stage. Being a friend who can say “I am so sorry you are dealing with this problem! Tell me about it,” gives the troubled person room to feel their emotions and begin the job of working through to a better state.

  • See the Problem Realistically. For me, this is the stage I need a trusted friend to accomplish. When I face a problem, it is all I can see. Only the bad sides of the equation. I don’t see opportunities, I don’t see my skills I bring to solving it, I don’t see any of my past successes or the support networks I have all around me. I see a problem–big and scary and proof, in my eyes, of my utter incompetence and lack of worth. My husband and my friends are lifesavers in these moments. I trust them to honestly assess a problem with me, and help me put it in perspective in the larger mosaic of my life. They are the ones to remind me of past successes, of the power of faith, of the good things that can come from the current challenge, and that even if I do fail to solve this problem, I am still loved and worthwhile. This help is the hardest to be without, and the step I close off the most severely when I refuse to share my burden with someone I can trust.

  • Solving the Problem. This step, which seems so crucial when I am bewailing my predicament, is actually the least important. Most problems get solved. Mostly by doing things I already know how to do. For the rare times I need help–either in the form of practical help or simply expert advice, my support group of friends, family, and experts I trust will usually get me on track quickly. I am still surprised at how simple solutions can be, especially after I’ve spent weeks obsessing over a situation. Often one conversation, or mentioning one need that is overwhelming to me, will result in just the right advice, or someone having a spare whatsit that they want to be rid of that is exactly what I need. Problem solving, while crucial to life, is much less difficult than letting someone care and help you put your problem into perspective.

So why do we constantly hoard our problems when sharing them helps us and allows our friends to see into our lives in ways that strengthen our relationships? Why must pride and a desire to appear invincible rather than vulnerable make us suffer alone? Think about how good it feels to help someone else, and especially how good it feels to be trusted with someone’s tender, scary places. Why not give that gift to the friend you value the most? Chances are good he or she will help you solve your problem, you’ll feel better, and your friend will feel valued and useful. Share a problem today!

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Three Tips to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Things don’t always “come up roses.”

Today has been a rough day Chez Green. Something happened that took the wind clean out of my sails. Nothing earth-shattering, just an unexpected hassle that I thought I had taken steps to avoid. In the past few days, I’ve had other frustrations that I managed well. But this one popped the balloon, broke the camel’s back, crushed my spirit for the day. It made all the other problems zoom back into focus, and now I find myself literally stooped, finding it hard to lift my head.

My dear husband tried to help.
“This problem isn’t a big deal.”
“It’s going to be ok..”
“You can’t let something minor like this tear you up.”

But for whatever reason, being caught off guard has me smacked down today. I’ve moped and groused and cried and fumed, and now I’m ready to learn. Just how do you fight a disappointment–whether severe or severely minor?

  1. Accept where you are. This one is hard for me. I don’t like to admit I’m in “a wee bit o’ a snit,” even more so if my problems are for something I could have prevented. And I’m often afraid of seeing how bad a problem is, so I try to ignore it and hope it goes away. But, as this article on acceptance points out, you can’t deal with something you can’t accept. Most problems are not as bad as you imagine them to be.
  2. Look for inspiration. I went to QuoteGarden.com, and searched “disappointment,” which led me to “inspirational adversity quotes.”  There I found lots of good advice, everything from “birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?” (Rose Kennedy) to “If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too tight shoes.”  (The Houghton Line, November 1965). After reading the page, I sat up a little straighter and felt a bit more resilient. You can also call a friend or mentor, or go over your successes in your mind.
  3. Look to your beliefs. Do you believe you’ll be rewarded in some way for doing the right thing? Do you believe you have a mission to complete? Do you believe your attitude affects your reality? Then live like you believe. If you know negativity is an issue for you, and want to change, then the best time to start is in a negative state. Find an uplifting sentence to repeat, or a verse of poetry to write out. I sat down to write this blog, knowing I don’t really believe the day/week/month is wasted because of one disappointment. 

I hope these points help you in your own fight against disappointment. If so, please share or comment!

Photo credit: Teresa Y Green