I’ve always been the kind of person where if something is broken or not working, I fix it or work around it. It’s just the way my brain works.
One thing I can’t stand is complaining about something and looking for reasons for something to not work.
This weekend, I asked S.O. to rotate my tires.
Flash back to Friday afternoon. I swung by my local Pep Boys (my dad, the mechanic, recommends) and got my oil changed. For me this is an expensive event — my car runs on full synthetic and an oil change runs me about $70. I also needed a new air filter — $23.
Whatever. I expected it.
Last time I had my oil changed, my dad did it. Cost me $30 — just the oil and filter. My dad did the rest. Same when I needed new brakes and rotors — paid $100 for the parts and my dad did all the work.
Then, the service dude tells me that my two front tires have dry rot.
I mean, yeah, there’s a little wear on them because I don’t rotate them as often as I should… but dry rot. Nope. I have a full set of Michelin Defenders on my car — those are 90,000 mile tires.
When I had bought them, my intention was they outlast my damn car.
So I called my dad… he said have S.O. look at them.
But I needed them rotated, badly, and they refused to rotate them.
So, I drove an hour and a half on supposedly dry rotted tires to where S.O. lives. He looked at them and said, “they look worn, but not dry rotted.”
And I asked S.O. to rotate them…
Now, I love S.O. to pieces, but he complains about things entirely too much instead of fixing them. And that is probably the one thing that bothers me the most about him. I always look for ways around problems or how to fix problems. Not just bitch about them.
And whew buddy! Did he bitch the entire time?
First he couldn’t get the jack under… so I did that. Then he couldn’t get the tire off… so I did that. Then he had to critique every dent in my car. Literally half the time it took to rotate my tires, he was bitching and complaining.
Dear god… I wanted to tear my hair out.
I did about 75% of the work… and the other 25% he did… and mostly that was to make sure the lug nuts were tight enough because I wasn’t entirely sure I had the right amount of upper body strength to get them tight enough.
And I got into him about it.
Stop complaining. Start fixing.
If I wasn’t terrified my car was going to fall on me, next time I’m going to rotate my tires myself… or have my dad do it. Or pay someone to do it.
He turned something that is completely not rocket science into rocket science.
I mean, I get venting — getting frustrations about problems out and seeking advice. But unconstructive complaining drives me insane and wounds my poor utilitarian heart.
It’s a waste of good breath.
“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” —Tom Wilson
What I’ve noticed about people who just complain for the sake of complaining without fixing things that they complain about is that they have a negative based personality — they are perpetual pessimists.
A healthy dose of pessimism is a good thing — it keeps you safe, keeps you aware, keeps you concerned. But to be pessimistic all the time is a serious drain on your quality of life.
You can’t look at life and see all bad all the time. And if you do, it’s time to seek professional help.
- It fosters a negative attitude. Complaining draws our attention to the negative aspects and circumstance around us. And focusing on the negatives always brings about greater negativity. Complaining never results in joy—it only sinks us deeper into our misery.
- It negatively impacts those around us. Complaints spread negativity. By focusing on and drawing attention to the problems and discomforts around us, we direct other people towards it too. Misery loves company.
- It doesn’t change our circumstance. Taking action does. But complaining words by themselves do not.
- It disqualifies the value of discomfort in our lives. Discomfort—both physical and emotional—can have profound benefit for our lives. There are countless life lessons that can only be learned by embracing discomfort: patience and perseverance just to mention a few. Become OK with discomfort. You’ll be glad you did.
- It is highly unattractive. It is unenjoyable to spend time around people who constantly highlight the negatives. And not only unattractive, the self-centered emphasis of complaining can be annoying as well.
- It leaves us in victim-mode. One of the greatest obstacles to lasting change is blame. And complaining finds its foundation almost entirely in blame.
So, I’ve decided I want to complain less and fix more. Instead of stating how bad something is, I will strive to fix it, and if it is something which cannot be fixed, I will just look at the positive and find a way around the negative — I will evolve and I will change.
1. Consider the importance of adopting the change. Many of us complain only because we have never considered the alternative. We have never been alerted to its harmful effects—both in us and around us. We never considered there may be a better way. But when given the choice, most of us would prefer to give life rather than drain life with our words. Determine to do just that.
2. Embrace the recognition of an imperfect world. Life is not always going to serve up what we would like (or even expect) at every turn. There will be trouble, trial, and pain. Again, this is okay. And the sooner we stop holding out for a world that revolves around us, the sooner we can embrace the fact that our contribution is far more needed than our pleasure. Discomfort should not surprise us—and we are not the only ones experiencing it.
3. Understand the difference between helpful criticism and complaint.There are times when it is entirely appropriate to raise attention to a wrong being committed. This can be helpful and should never be discouraged. Decipher if the situation can and should be resolved. If not, there is a good chance our complaints have no real interest in dialogue, problem solving, or human connection. And in that case, they should be avoided.
4. Be mindful of your audience. Are you speaking to someone who can help solve the problem or has a vested interest in bringing about a resolution? If so, use problem-solving language. If not, tread lightly. If you must continue, preface your complaint with impact-reducing language. For example, beginning with “Can I just vent for a minute or two?” may be all you need to orient yourself and your listener toward your purpose and be helpful in reminding yourself to keep it brief.
5. Avoid beginning conversations with a complaint. Take notice of how often we initiate conversations with a complaint. Often times, even subconsciously, this tactic is used because it garners a heightened response. Remove it from your arsenal. And try spreading some cheer with your opening line instead.
6. Refuse to complain for the sake of validation. Sometimes our complaints are used to validate our worth to others. “I’m so busy,” is a good example. We often say it as a means to subtly communicate our importance. Don’t seek to impress others with your complaints. That strategy won’t gain you any friends in the long run anyway.
7. Notice your triggers. Is there a specific time period of the day you tend to complain more than others? Morning, evening, or late afternoon? When your spouse is home? When you are drinking coffee or lunch with your friends? Maybe it is around the water cooler with your co-workers? Take notice. Then, avoid triggers if possible. If they cannot be avoided, make a point to be extra vigilent when you see them arise.
8. Embrace the idea of experimentation. Setting a goal of “never, ever complaining again” may be counter-productive. Instead, try designating a short period of time where you can be particularly mindful. For example, decide to go just one day without complaining. This shorter time period will allow you to concentrate more fully on your goal. The shortened, experimental time frame will foster increased sensitivity.
However, it was a pretty good weekend. I do remember all the things I hated about that town. There are still some positives there, but I’m glad I got away. I can only hope that I can drag S.O. away from there too.
We talked about moving toward the Orlando area. My nana is talking about selling her house and retiring and moving in with her “man friend.” (This man is like 80 — I cannot use the term “boyfriend”. It’s weird). She wants to sell her house, but I’m going to propose renting it. It’s extra income for her and she only owes like five years on it.
I’ve always loved my grandma’s house and yard. So maybe…
Dad’s offered to get S.O. on with his crew, but S.O. seems “too good” to hang drywall with his fancy MPA degree…. even though it’s $8 more an hour than what he’s making… starting off…
Also, my dad is thinking of going into business for himself and will need a person like S.O. to help with licensure and that sort of thing. So, it may work out.
If I do go to Orlando, I’m more worried about me finding a job than S.O., honestly. He’s got guaranteed work if he goes down.
Oh well… another conversation for another day.