If there’s one skill we seem to develop further each day, it’s this: complaining. And complaining is a skill as it takes patience, craft and a lot of practice. But there’s an emerging nuance to the art of complaining and it comes in an even more annoying form. No longer content to simply share dissatisfaction, the complainer now adds hopelessness to his statements. This deadly combination is known casually as whining and it stands as a blockade to honoring the spirit.
Whining is complaining combined with hopelessness and it’s one of the most stubborn psychological states to change once you’re caught in it. I call it the whine-about syndrome and it’s taking over our homes, businesses and the Internet.
I recently had a first-hand look at a professional whine-about when a coworker threw a honest-to-goodness temper tantrum. The original complaint, a valid one, involved a missing computer cable. But after I brought him a replacement, it was too late. Suddenly everything was wrong: none of his coworkers were helpful (despite me standing there with the very cable he needed), people had become overly selfish and nothing was going to change man’s heartless condition. As he complained, his face reddened, his feet stomped the ground and his hands flew up and down in the air. His voice inflection confirmed my suspicion as the tell tale six-year-old whining voice took over. He was in the middle of a full-scale whine-about attack.
I thought about trying to talk him out of his conundrum and then thought better of it. He needed to learn on his own.
The universe beautifully delivered another example to my office several minutes later. This gentleman looked a little disheveled and I inquired how he was doing. That one question opened the floodgates to a barrage of whine-abouts. I stopped listening after the first few statements.
Often when we are on a self-development path, it’s easy to spot the problems, limitations and opportunities of others yet we’re quite blind to our own. The same day I encountered the whine-abouts at work, I had an opportunity for self-diagnosis. Again, the trigger was a basically benign event—a staff meeting—but the resulting feelings it stirred in me caused me to feel trapped, defeated and hopeless. I felt I needed to share what happened to me and spent the next few hours telling coworkers about the meeting.
It took me three hours to become aware of my own whining. Although I wasn’t speaking in the familiar whiner-voice, I was indeed whining. My dissatisfaction had collided directly with hopelessness and I reasoned that “talking it through” with others would help me feel better. It did not.
A consciously-approached and cautiously-used complaint is sometimes good medicine for a bad situation. Complaining, used sparingly, can help alleviate negative emotions and allow you to return to a more calm and centered state of being. But we’ve forgotten the usefulness of dropping the complaint after it’s made. Instead of moving on and focusing on new opportunities, our egos become involved and want to make sure we don’t repeat the same negative situation again. At the same time, the ego wants sympathy for its perceived pain and suffering and justifies continued complaining as a way of reaching out to others for help.
Spending too much time complaining prevents us from seeing the forest for the trees. The conscious mind, then completely acclimated to complaint without positive result, equates life as a series of problems and challenges that can’t be solved. Unconsciously, we focus our attention on both our problems and the hopeless feelings and, in turn, create more of the same. The continued focus activates law of attraction and manifests more and more things to complain and whine about.
The good news is that whine-about syndrome can be cured or at least brought to manageable levels. First and foremost, it takes awareness to see whining and complaining in action. In my own example above, it took me several hours to understand that the conversations I had with coworkers were actually forms of whining.
After you’re aware of your verbal statements and thoughts, it’s important to evaluate the perceived payoff for your complaints. That is, what do you think you’re getting out of whining? Again in my own example, I justified that I was just “getting things off my chest” or processing how I felt. In short, I was simply whining. I was attempting to get others to see things the way my ego saw them—in a very limited fashion. This attempt at sympathy was only a ploy my ego used to justify what I had created.
It’s imperative to turn your consciousness in a different direction after you’ve identified whining. You must purposely pivot and find something else to concentrate on: make a gratitude list; go for a walk and look for things that are pleasing; listen to music; or, meditate. This can be hard work but the payoff is relief from whine-about syndrome and a return to a balanced state of being.
Concentrate also on ways to combat the hopelessness you feel when you whine. Realize that you form your own reality through the active process of directing your beliefs, thoughts and emotions and then make a conscious decision to change them. A situation is only hopeless when you believe it is, so start with basic core beliefs about your own inherent power and worth.
Finally, make a pledge to yourself not to whine. It takes willpower not to talk to others about your problems. You must break the cycle of whining in order to cut its power and redirect it in a positive direction. Every time you catch yourself trying to get buy-in from others about a negative situation, remind yourself of your pledge and vow to change to a more positive outlook. Your spirit will thank you in the morning.