Caught myself whining again recently and even though my circumstances seemed whine-worthy at the time, it was just a few minutes later when I heard about some legitimate catastrophe. “Oops,” I thought. “There I go again.” Fortunately I had only been whining for a relatively short period of time.
I took a few slow deep breaths and thought about how grateful I was that I had a roof over my head and food in the fridge. There are plenty of people in the world without those simple human needs. I made a conscientious effort not to beat myself up for whining. Making myself feel more guilty wouldn’t help my mood or the people in the world with more serious struggles than whatever I was whining about.
I am going to try to listen more closely to my comments and to be on guard against whining. I don’t think my ears or the ears of others around me need to hear it. In fact, I think whining can be quite infectious. Listen to folks around you today and try not to be judgmental. Just be curious about whining. Notice when you hear it. When you hear someone whine, do others join in? Do others seem to try to out-gripe the griper? Doesn’t it seem to become a contest of sorts, whenever people start whining?
Is it productive?
I don’t think so.
While I extol the virtue of venting frustration, I think venting and whining might be different because of the intentions behind the behavior. When we need to vent, I think we should ask one trusted friend to set aside a couple minutes so that we can feel heard and maybe have our feelings validated. That’s healthy off-loading of negativity and even the one who heard the venting can feel good for having been a helpful set of ears.
Complaining is important to identifying a situation that ought to change and can be productive when it’s voiced to a person who has the power to fix the situation. Otherwise isn’t it just spreading negativity?
When that same complaint is tossed loudly into an environment where people haven’t been asked to be sounding boards, or lack the power to fix the situation, entire conversations become negatively charged. There is no intention of fixing anything. Whole groups of people are exposed to negativity and usually end up falling into the big vat of whine! Heck, some people don’t fall, they jump in!
And I have certainly fallen and even jumped in before.
So I think I’m going to print out a few of these and post them in places where I’ll see them throughout the day:
When all is said and done, if it’s whining (as opposed to venting or complaining) it doesn’t do any good. So let’s choose carefully.
How will you spend your time and energy – whining or winning?