You probably know the type that always seems to complain? The conversation usually starts with something said in a whining voice. In fact, you won’t have time to say your greetings when the hard-luck story begins. Rain or shine, it did not go right this time either, and they always think they’ve been treated unfairly.
The second type of complainer belittles or despises everything — both themselves and others, what they do and don’t do, say or leave unsaid. The same story from day to day, from morning to night. Heavy to listen to, and hard especially for themselves!
It’s actually terribly sad that you can never be happy with anything.
(At this point, you are allowed to secretly swallow or clear your throat if there seems to be something extra. After all, it may be that someone – and eventually quite a few of us – recognizes that at least at some point they have tested either way of life.)
But no worries. The moaning is a very delicious chance, a revolutionary opportunity!
Whining from 9 to 5?
Especially in the workplace, the whining and moaning seems to be pretty intense all the way from the morning meeting to the afternoon coffee. Thus, it is in work supervising that I often bring up the idea that on the back of the stream of complaints, there actually are high hopes for something better.
You just need to know how to change the subject of conversation.
In both cases – constant complaining and endless criticism – it is ultimately a matter of taking responsibility for one’s own well-being, as long as one first understands what it is all about.
In the first situation, it may be a low mood that threatens to pull the head below the surface. It’s hard to see anything good and beautiful if all the strength goes into survival. Then the complaining can be at the same time a cry of distress: Notice me, I feel bad! Then the first steps are to look around, where to find a rock on which to climb to rest, and where there is a person who can be called for help.
So explore what are the little everyday things that help your well-being and in gathering strength. Sometimes the first steps are to start taking care of yourself: eat food that nourishes, sleep and rest, and call for help – as well as accept the help offered.
How to live or work with a constant complainer?
For someone living near such a complainer, the key may just be to ask them to sit down, calm yourself down to listen, and ask with genuine interest: How are you? How can I help?
Sometimes constant complaining can only be a bad, automatic way, which you can try to get rid of on your own. Namely, complaining does not refresh oneself or anyone else around. However, not all who complain want to change their ways, and therefore for those living or working close to such a person it is important to remember to protect themselves with good things and exhilarating relationships as well.
Another type of complainer – a constant critic of others, and especially themself – is accustomed to whipping themself endlessly for better performance. Nothing is good enough when perfect is the expectation. On the shoulder of such a complainer often sits the fear that if the end result is not perfect, I will not be accepted and will not be liked.
Then support comes not only from the encouragement and acceptance of loved ones, but also the consolation, support, and acceptance of oneself. It is a question of self-compassion, which means learning to treat yourself like a good friend: wisely and encouragingly, one situation and thought at a time.
Turning complaints into hope
Complaining does not in itself lead to anything good, whether it is one’s own feeling or a change in circumstances. But if you have the temperance to stop (and even humble a little) to recognize and acknowledge that you need or want something, a complaint can be expressed as a wish.
And what a different sound there is in that! It leads to a better future and quite often also to interaction and connection not only with others but also with oneself. Try it!
Blog written by Auntie professional Elina Pajunen, who is a solution-focused therapist and work supervisor, and previously also worked as a journalist.