Category Archives: musing




photo by Carbon NYC

photo by Carbon NYC


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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.


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.


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!

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‘Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” I’d like to show how “intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members” connects with “the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.” I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever.’ ―Jeffrey Eugenides

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April 9, 2013 · 4:34 pm

SO WHAT IS IT? Positivity? Insensitivity?


not me

I went through a lot recently. A lot of changes in my life. Roller coaster feelings.

I am ok, though. Or else I will be. Thanks for asking.

See what just happened?

  • In my very core is a strong belief that things will turn out ok. That I will face whatever needs to be faced and get out of it bigger, stronger. I don’t think I deny the problems I am facing. I am certainly not avoiding the pain that goes along with it.
  • Also from the outside, I make it sounds like I am untouched. Strong.  

And what are the core mechanisms at play?

  • Compartmentalizing: I think I am pretty good at separating different aspects of my life. Problems at work won’t affect too much my relationship. Or the stress of moving to another country won’t prevent me to be social and meet new people. It helps me a lot as I can still enjoy things happening in my professional life even if some crap is going in my personal one. And vice versa. Or it helps even more when all goes to hell in different parts of my life. These are separated small to mid-size fires. No inferno. 
  • Positive mindset: According to Strength Finder, one of my five top themes is Positivity:

People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

  • High extraversion, low neuroticism: or at least that how I scored on two of the five broad personality domains of the Five-Factor Model. The way I understand it, high extraversion means a great responsiveness to positive emotions. Low neuroticism is a lesser tendency to experience negative feelings. So I guess there is that, too. I guess I am less affected by unpleasant events than other. But like every one I have my limits. Which leads me to:
  • Psychological resilience: This is an interesting one because I have plenty of example of resilience ‘to cope against adversity’ but almost none about coping against stress (which according to wiki goes together as far as psychological resilience goes).
  • Insensitivity: With everything being relative, I surely know they are people more sensitive than me. But I also think that I am  a very sensitive person.  I react strongly to events happening not only to myself but also to others. You might say this contradict at least partly my claim of having low neuroticism. I mean to say that I feel the pain. I feel the sadness. I feel the anguish. And the not-knowing feeling. BUT/AND I admit it takes more of it than for other people before I collapse. I did collapse last year and this year. It was pretty bad. I think other would have collapse before me. Does that mean that I am insensitive? I don’t think so.


I read this article. It is more about how to heal the pain then on how the pain express itself or not in one’s person. But still very relevant. I hope you take something from it.

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Yesterday I went to a career workshop aimed at women ‘in transition’ professionally. I really had a good time as it was nice to engage in a social activity and meet new people who in this case are in a similar situation than mine. The facilitator did a fantastic job at putting us at ease and to guide the conversation without monopolizing it.

There are two things I will in particular remember:

  • I love the vocabulary used around our situation. To say for example that we are ‘in transition’ instead of unemployed. Also all of us used the expression ‘Then– life happened’ as a way to put some non-drama around our story and the reasons why we are now looking for new job opportunities. In my case I found it on one side particularly fitting and on the other way totally wrong as I know I didn’t let life happened to me. I took the reins and some pretty tough decision. And here I am.
  • We did two warm-up exercise. The first one was around our doubts and fears. The second around our desires and dreams. For the second one,  all sentences had to start with ‘I want’. Here is my list:

I want to stay close to my values
I want change
I want flexibility
I want independence
I want connection
I want recognition
I want my life to turn around sharing/connection and love ❤
I want to be someday a ‘job-provider’ or a ‘help-provider’—> before that I want a good enough job.

(listening to: Herman Düne – Giants)


Filed under career, musing