Do you have a friend who is always complaining? Are you that friend?
Life can really throw you some interesting (aka challenging) curveballs. Sometimes when you think it’s just pausing and you get to rest, it starts all over again. Maybe it’s flare-ups or it’s another episode with your child or it’s a deadline at work. It can feel non-stop and overwhelming and staying out of fear may just be too much to ask for. Sometimes just being able to breathe is enough.
We’ve all had situations like that. Some of us seem to be constantly chasing down good information from our doctors on the merry-go-round of diagnosis. Some of us keep breaking a bone or having some accident. Some of us are going through trying times that make us question/re-think everything.
The world today is also much different than even 10 years ago. Gregg Braden reminds us that the cell is engineered for immortality, if its health is not disrupted by toxin and malnutrition. We are faced with both, aren’t we? To say people are under stress is an understatement.
So is it any wonder that many people complain? It can get to be too much. We were told to feel our feelings and talk about them, weren’t we? We were unfortunately not taught how to do it constructively.
If you are going through something, you may find your circle of friendship shrinking fast or dissolving completely. I once heard a practitioner say that she gives people three chances and if they keep complaining, without doing something about it, she cuts off their friendship. I thought that was a bit harsh. I do understand and have experienced what a drain on energy it is to have a friend who is constantly complaining, especially when crap is hitting the fan in your own life.
Mostly, we can empathize with both sides. We have likely been both at some point in our lives. The complainer and the sympathetic ear and shoulder.
Research shows that a reliable social network is one of the most important factors to health and well-being. That social network looks different for everyone and friendship is a key relationship in our social life.
The question we often ask is how to be authentic and have good friends?
It’s said that there are three types of complainers –
⋯ someone who complains just to vent, uninterested in a solution
⋯ someone who complains and wants to be comforted
⋯ someone who is a chronic complainer and that is how they approach everything. Complaining is their pattern.
Knowing which type of complainer a person is helps to choose the appropriate response. It can be a little trickier if that person has an ongoing challenge that is just taking time to resolve, like a divorce, and who in fact is not a chronic complainer. Their resilience and natural optimism is on the rebound.
Research shows that the brain is hard-wired for the negative, that it is natural to go to the worst-case scenario mindset. This, they say, is a remnant of our evolutionary survival instincts to distinguish between danger and safety, friend and foe. It was better to err on the safe side, being skeptical and suspicious, than to be dead.
While this is a neat bit of info, we have to change the narrative around it. Our environment is not like that of 200,000 years ago when our ancestors the Anatomically Modern Human showed up. We also now know that the brain is “plastic” and the brain can and does create new neural pathways.
What we default to becomes a more entrenched way of thinking and the more entrenched way of thinking becomes the default. This means that to have a different way of thinking, feeling, and behaving, we need to choose differently. One simple way is to have an attitude and practice of gratitude. Even being grateful for one thing – no matter big or small – each day can dramatically transform our life over time. Another is having a practice of meditation, which helps us inhabit the moment, allowing our filter to widen and more info to enter while in a state of alert awakeness and equanimity.
Suggestions for the Complainer
1. Know why you are complaining.
Are you looking for solutions or comfort? Are you looking for it in the right place, with the right people?
2. Know what you are complaining about.
Often we complain about the surface events, the symptoms, circling around what is truly ailing us at a deeper level. Dr Rudiger Dahlke who teaches and practices Transformational Medicine reminds us that what we ignore in the inner world manifests on the outer world. It’s one way things are balanced and one way we are alerted to what is going on at a deeper level. Being open to explore what is the underlying imbalance can lead us out of the wasteland.
Each of us has a factory-installs compass, often called instinct. Tuning in to and listening to your inner compass is often the most important directive you can follow.
Squire Rushnell, Divine Alignment
3. Be grateful for one thing or one person every day.
Some people find it difficult to be grateful at all, especially when their world seems to be disintegrating or lit on fire. If this is you, start with a few deep breaths and look for any opening where there is a pause. Then bring to mind someone or something you are appreciative of. It does not have to be a huge mountain-moving revelation. That comes later, maybe much later. It comes. For today, just for this moment, start with one thing or one person to be grateful for.
4. Spend 3 minutes a day and focus on one positive emotion with a slower breath.
If bringing a positive emotion to mind is challenging, try a happy memory. Some people feel a swell of love when they think of their furry friends. It only takes three minutes to send heart intelligence signals to the brain and a cascade of positive (thriving vs surviving) chemical hormones is released.
5. Seek professional help if you are looking for solutions.
If there is trauma, some modalities to try – EMDR, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Nutripuncture, Somatic Experience, integrative counselling, Theta Healing, Reiki. Perhaps some energetic healing and healthier energetic hygiene practices are needed. It is important not to re-trigger the trauma (or traumatize those you complain to) by re-hashing the past. Integrating the parts separated by trauma and seeing the event in a more wholistic light are crucial to moving on.
6. Start a self-care practice.
Doing something for yourself is empowering. It builds self-confidence and trust that you can take care of yourself, know when to seek appropriate help when you cannot. Self-care also helps develop the inner feeling of when something requires your attention before all hell breaks loose on the external. This inner ear will, for example, let you know to rest when rest is required. Wonderful things happen when we sleep enough and sleep well enough.
Central to Jin Shin Jyutsu, an ancient art of healing and living, is Self-Help. You can start by holding your thumb and each of your fingers for several minutes a day. This simple and powerful technique brings harmony and inner peace.
Building resilience can be done in many ways, including the techniques from the Institute of HeartMath. Available is technology such as Inner Balance (available on iPhone and androids) or emWave (for the computer) to help measure your heart-rate variability (a good indicator of health) and to track your practice over time. The technology is not necessary as you can gauge your progress by how you feel in general and how you deal with adversity. Technology, however, is helpful as you build up greater self-awareness.
7. Consider a brain scan.
Dr Amen is a vocal advocate of brain health and using spect scans to see what is going on inside. Different areas of the brain may be affected, making complaining or being oppositional the default. Julie Bolduc of Julieyana is sharing more information on this in the email module Patience and Brain Health in What Therapy’s e-course Welcome Earth Dog, an 11-email module course to harness the energies of 2018 – a 11/2 year and the Year of the Earth Dog.
1. Understand that we deal with pain, suffering, and adversity in different ways. Have compassion for those who may not be as skilled or energetically available to deal with what is going on in their lives.
2. Do not underestimate the power of a simple hello by text or a phone call for someone going through a hard time. Do not underestimate the pain of exclusion. Having community and a strong social network can make the difference.
3. Read articles about deleting “toxic people” from your life with a grain of salt. We are pretty self-centric and we see that other people are toxic or that it is “their karma” rather than the role we play in other people’s lives. It may need to distance ourselves from some people in our lives; just do it for the right reason.