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Complaining to a friend can be a great stress reliever (free therapy!). Be careful! There are dangers to complaining. Learn what to do when you’re frustrated.
There are many times I get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. I start questioning my parenting, my caregiving, my ability as a wife and homemaker. I find sharing my concerns (I like to call it “venting”) with close family and friends to be free therapy. If you are an acquaintance then you may be spared my complaints. I find this helpful for several reasons.
- It keeps me from hanging onto my grievances and risking a bitter attitude.
- My listener is able to offer a different perspective I might not have thought of otherwise.
- I’m able to express negative emotion in a relatively harmless way.
I have learned through experiences that complaining has it’s risks.
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A Complaint Gone Wrong
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Luckily, a good friend called not long after my hubby left for work and I had the opportunity to unburden myself. I finished my tirade and breathed a sigh of relief that I had rid myself of this heavy weight. As I prepared myself to provide closure for both my friend and myself with a cheerful, “Oh well, it’s great that he needs me and I can do this for him,” when she vehemently exclaimed, “What a jerk!”
That’s not what I meant at all!
All I had intended was to express my annoyance at having to add more to my day, not that my husband was a jerk. He wasn’t being a jerk. He was asking his stay-at-home wife, a job I chose, to fulfill a task he was unable to do while at his job. It irritated me that my plans were disrupted yet my complaints to my friend had given her an unfair and untrue view of my husband.
Complaining has it’s merits.
It keeps you from harboring your negative emotions
No one wants to stay angry or even slightly annoyed. Allowing emotions to fester inside of you will cause it to overflow in the end. A small annoyance could end in a huge outburst if you let it sit and stew.
Emotionally, anger ruins any chance you had to have a good day and allows bitterness to develop and eventually take hold. By being angry at someone/something/a situation, you are allowing it to take more space in your life than it needs, blocking out your opportunity for joy. Complaining allows you to express those feelings and hopefully move on to better things.
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It allows you to problem solve by saying it out loud.
Sometimes just putting my grievance into a spoken sentence can help me work through it. There have been many times I have been stymied by something and solve it myself as soon as I say the words. I can also glean from the advice provided by my listener. Many times I’ve vented to my sister only to have her come at me with a perspective I had not thought of, making my grievance less logical.
It can help you see that it’s not so bad after all.
Often, as soon as the vented words leave my mouth, I see that I really shouldn’t be upset after all.
I was really upset about something I saw posted on social media. I mean “cast them out, never to be heard again” upset.
My mother was my unfortunate listener for this particular vent. I came at her with every “how could she”, “this is madness”, and “what a complete idiot” I had in me. As I was speaking I felt my anger drain until by the time I was done, before my mom had a chance to say a word, I no longer felt angry. Through my venting I was able to see more of the other side of things.
Be wary of the dangers of complaining.
You can give a flawed view of the situation.
Complaining almost always puts your subject in a negative light. If you’re complaining to someone who doesn’t know you or your subject/situation well, you can be certain your subject will suffer. With my opening story, you can see that my venting had made my husband seem like an overbearing, chauvinistic, power-hungry lord and master.
In reality, he’s a kind, gentle, very caring husband. I realized that by complaining I had damaged part of my husband’s reputation with that friend.
You can distance your support.
We all have *those* friends. You know the ones who all they seem to do is complain? Eventually you stop answering their calls/texts and start avoiding them, amiright?
Complain with caution so you don’t become “that friend”. Ask yourself these questions and be honest with your answers.
- Does every conversation revolve around your complaints?
- Do you find it difficult not to have a conversation without complaining?
One of the greatest problems caregivers and moms face is feeling alone. But it’s hard to be a friend to people who are always talking about their problems. Don’t vent just to complain and solicit sympathy. Always be seeking a solution or resolution to your problems.
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You can cause unnecessary judgement.
Let’s be honest. It doesn’t take us very long to form judgments. Post anything on a Facebook group or read the comments on a news story and you will soon see what I mean.
- Complaining too much about your husband? You’re unhappy in your marriage.
- Complaining about your kids? You’re just not meant to be a mother.
- Complaining about your job? You’re unstable in the workplace.
Bottom line, when you complain to others be prepared for their judgement.
How to complain well.
Trusted listeners only.
Complain only to those you trust implicitly and that know you and your situation very well. Don’t unburden yourself to that nice barista at Starbucks. Avoid the temptation to complain on your social media platforms. Very few of us have 800+ really close friends. When you vent to social media you are essentially sharing with a bunch of strangers. Is this something you would want to shout on the supermarket loudspeaker? No? Then keep it off of Facebook. Find people you trust and keep them close.
Guard your words.
When you’re complaining make it very clear that the annoyance is your own. The subject of your annoyance is irrelevant. If you have a grievance with someone, go to that person (if possible) and address it. Don’t fall to the temptation to just talk about it with others. That would be gossip. Always ask yourself if you would be ok knowing that your friends and family were complaining about you. And again, always approach complaining with the attitude of seeking a solution, not merely complaining about a situation.
Be prepared for a response.
Finally, when you are complaining know that you will receive advice. Very few people just listen. Most think when you are complaining that you’re really pleading for their input.
It took me seven years of marriage to learn that when I complain about something to my husband he’s going to tell me how I should handle it. And why wouldn’t he? I’ve just told him about something that frustrates me. Clearly it’s not something I’m handling positively. He wants me to be happy so he’s going to try and fix it. Just know that if they didn’t care about you, they wouldn’t offer their advice. When you complain, you are opening yourself up for advice whether it was a spoken request or not.
We’re all guilty of complaining. Sometimes, seeking help with our struggles through complaints can be healthy. Keeping the dangers of complaining in mind will help you avoid bigger problems down the road.
Did you like this post? What suggestions do you have for avoiding the dangers of complaining? Let me know in the comments below!
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