November 3 2015
Would you like some whine with that?
I have sometimes thought that we are becoming a culture of whiners. We complain to each other about our jobs, kids, spouses, neighborhood, school system, contractor, etc. etc. etc. And, after all, a little whine is good for your health. It feels great to let off steam, to vent your frustration and to get some sympathy and support. However, too much whine can be bad for your health. The biggest problem with whining is that it isn’t solution oriented. Talking about a problem endlessly rarely makes the problem go away. Additionally, people eventually tune out whining and negativity. Ask yourself: “Do I really like hanging out with someone who complains a lot?” Plus, whining can reinforce powerlessness – i.e. the more you talk about how frustrated and helpless you are, the more you reinforce the hopelessness of the situation in your own mind. So, how do you know when you’ve reached your limit? In the beginning stages, whining is letting off steam about a minor frustration. In the middle stages, it can be effective as a way of articulating the need to do something about a bad situation and may serve as impetus toward action. However, you’ve gone beyond the limit when you find yourself talking every day, several times a day, about the same situation. Think about whether there is a pattern of talking about the same problem again and again. If you detect a pattern, or if others are beginning to avoid you because of your excessive “imbibing”, ask yourself a specific question. Every time you find yourself complaining about the same thing, hold yourself accountable by asking yourself “and what am I going to do about it?” Push yourself away from complaining and toward action. Then, challenge yourself: if you whine about a problem, you need to come up with at least one possible solution to it. If the problem is that you can’t come up with a viable solution, change your dialogue with others from “I can’t stand…” to “do you have any suggestions for me about how to deal with….?” And get some concrete advice. Someone might just come up with a great suggestion.