Category Archives: friendship

COMPLAINING

complaining

Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier. ~Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

You are going through a rough path. Or your boss gave you a hard time.

So OF COURSE you are going to talk about it! You probably won’t sugar it either. After all you are just reporting the facts on what happened to you and the way your reacted to it.

And also that’s what friends are here for? Right? To listen to your problem. Empathize. Support and sometimes help you.

BEWARE OF THE COMPLAINING  TRAP.

Here is some of the principles I try to follow when it comes to complaining:

  •  It’s ok to complain about something if you are also taking action to make the situation better or get out of it.
    It’s much easier to complain and have other feeling sorry for you, than taking responsibility for your situation and take action to change it. 

    One easy example concern the 
    dissatisfaction a lot of people feel about their job. Some can spend hours telling you how crappy their work is but how many are actually looking for new opportunities? How many people do you know, who aren’t only complaining about a difficult boss but also trying to come up with strategy to enable a better communication, etc.?
  • It’s ok to talk about shit happening if you don’t forget to mention the good part, too.
    It’s easy to see things all in black but truth is that most of the time there are positive points in the situation you are in, too. For instance, to take again an example in the professional sphere, it would be very easy to just complain about my own current situation. Last time I worked was  seven months ago and it wasn’t in my field. As a result, I am very close to be completely broke as I live on my savings which weren’t much to start with. So this is the horror story.
    Following my own principle, given that I am looking for a job actively, I also can talk about it. And/But when I do, I shouldn’t forget to mention the good points. These past months I also had more time to reflect on what I really want. I started going to the gym again and could work on my personal projects (like this blog).
    Of course one can argue that I could have done it with a job just the same. But the truth is that the extra time really made a difference. The very fact that I got bored, made a difference.
  • Don’t hide complains behind jokes.
    Sometimes the most terrible situations make the best joke. And I am a total supporter of humor to lighten a dramatic situation. You just need to be aware of your inner motive while doing so.
    At the moment I have to confess I use jokes to steam down my frustration living with a new flatmate. I moved with him a few month ago and we have had some “bumps on the road”. At first I mentioned them to my friends but they themselves reflected back to me how negative I sounded and that I just needed to give it a bit more of time.
    Did I stop complaining about my lousy flatmate? Well, not exactly. I have just switch from direct criticism to light jokes about his quirkiness… THIS IS NOT COOL. And I am trying to keep it as low level as possible.
  • Discuss first about a happy topic with your friends and/or start the conversation focusing on them.
    Unless I am very upset, I always try to put my need to complain in second plan when meeting with my friends. Using this strategy, I give my friends some space to voice their own concern or simply share their life with me. I also avoid becoming  a toxic friend to them. And finally, I have notices that once the first urge is gone, talking about a happy topic lift my mood and is actually more beneficial to my well-being than always focusing on my problems.
  • Talking about an issue isn’t always the best way to feel better.
    I guess it’s not always easy to know when complaining helps you to get your frustration off your chest and when it just gets you stuck and feeling miserable about yourself. The key word is awareness. If you really listen to your inner voice you will know when the complains become unhealthy.

Corollary:

To be honest I am far from good in following these principles and I slip many times. But I think I have developed quite a high awareness about it and this also led me to acknowledge the positive attitude in other or as the quote says so beautifully, to not forget:

“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.” – G.K. Chesterton

If you have ever tried to stop complaining or at least to reduce it, you know how hard that can be!

So if you are lucky enough to have people around you, who – no matter what – know how to look at the bright side of life and with whom you feel happy, appreciate it fully.

And don’t be shy: tell them how awesome their attitude is and what for a positive impact they have on you.

One of my dear friends showed the biggest strength while going through her divorce. I never heard any complains from her and through her positive attitude she managed to adjust to her new situation incredibly quickly. She just started a new job at 43. As she met new colleagues, including women who went through a divorce themselves, she was stuck  by their bitterness but also hurt when they reflected back to her:

If only that was as easy for me as for you!

Let me repeat to you:

Not complaining and not feeling sorry for yourself isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing.

So when you meet someone like my friend, don’t use them to complain even more. Don’t try to spoil their own happiness because you feel yourself insecure or envious of them.

On the contrary: acknowledge their strength and try to follow them on the path of action and recovery.

What about you?

Do you feel that you often fall in the complaining trap?

To which point do you think it is healthy to complain?

And what is in your opinion the difference between complaining and expressing your true feelings (by opposition to repressing them as this also is not something I would ever recommend to do)?

Or maybe you want to use this comment space to write a tribute about some of your friends with an extraordinary attitude or strength!

Just, please, don’t be shy!

Leave a comment

Filed under friendship, musing

TOXIC FRIENDS

Friendship is on top of my list of important things in life.

For the past 10 years I have moved around quite a lot. It forced me to make new friends but also it taught me how important it is to nurture the relationship with my current one. Friendship, as anything precious in life, isn’t granted.

What I am still learning is to be more selective in my choice of friends.

I tend to only see the positive in people and, even when I see the negative parts, I mostly find reasons to explain it and excuse it (for example if someone tend to be rude and I know he has problems in his family).

I also tend to attract what I call now toxic friends.

toxic friends

What is a toxic friend?

  • A toxic friend is at first super friendly and open
  • A toxic friend will very soon tell you about the struggle he is going through
  • A toxic friend will at first listen to your own story and empathy, linking his own history to yours
  • A toxic friend will use you as a support to go through the difficult phases in his life
  • You won’t know when exactly it started, but a toxic friend will take most of your time and energy
  • He will suck your energy using it as a fuel in his own life
  • When you start to feel that this is going too far, the toxic friend won’t hesitate to manipulate you, to ensure he has your attention.
  • One trick for a toxic friend to get hold on you is to create the same unhappiness in your own life
  • A toxic friend will sabotage your own confidence, trash-talk the people you care most about or he’ll constantly call you with his latest drama when he knows you are having a good time (thus making sure you won’t).
  • When and if you confront him and want to talk about the un-balanced relationship you have with him, the toxic friend will always find a way to put the fault back at you.

Such a relationship will always end. Painfully.

So nowadays I try to avoid such people.

What are some of the early signs?

  • Someone who looks bitter or make a lot of negative comments 
  • Someone who try too hard to be friendly and happy
  • Someone who at first doesn’t show any vulnerability
  • Any sign that the new relationship isn’t balance. It could be that she is always the one who wants to meet or that the conversation   is only about one of us
  • If after meeting this person I end up feeling worse instead of better

Do I walk away?

I am still not good to walk away when I meet this kind of people.

My natural instinct is actually to try to help this person.

To empathize with her and show her that all isn’t that bad after all. That I know what he is going through and that if he needs someone to talk to I am here.

I also tend to take responsibility for the unbalanced relationships.

It goes to the basic thought:

‘I am the one who created this situation. It has to. As it’s not the first time it happens and the only common denominator is me’.

To a bit more subtle one:

‘ I created this situation.  I always think that others are more important than me. Their issues are more important, etc.  She was a normal friend and I did withdraw myself from the conversation and made her confide and need me. Now she trusts me and I am about to hurt her and betray this trust by pushing back’.

Like I said, toxic relationships don’t end well…

I don’t think I have any such friends around me at the moment. But next time I will meet one… Well, maybe the very fact that I wrote this down will help me recognize the signs earlier.

And not  engage.

Corollary:

23 Signs You’ve Got A Toxic Friend.

(Listening to:  Birdy)

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Filed under friendship