Women: We don’t snore, we don’t perspire, and we don’t pass wind. If we didn’t bitch, we’d explode! —Kathleen Madigan
No one likes a whiner, so they say. This is a truism that is, not surprisingly, often true. Going around in life complaining about everything from the weather to your lot in life is a great way to die alone.
There is a time and a place for everything (I am cliché guy today, apparently). We have been taught, however, that repressing your feelings is also not helpful and there are actual psychological disorders for people who cannot, or will not, deal with their feelings. Whining has a cathartic effect for the same reason talk therapy works. I don’t really know the logistics of how it works, but it does. I’ve seen it thousands of times.
As you have no doubt discovered by now, I am not really talking about whining. I needed a cool tagline that would entice you to read this far and hyperbole helps clarify and get us thinking. “Whining” is considered a character flaw. The problem is that we have a tendency to label any honest complaint, any legitimate need to unpack, as whining. As children we are forced to “keep our opinions to ourself”. We are taught from early childhood, “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.” Again, true… sort of. As we grow we devalue our feelings, minimize our issues, and stuff our pain and frustration down.
“There is always someone who has it worse than you!”. Who cares! Sometimes that isn’t very helpful. Of course some people are dying, losing someone, battling stuff I can’t even imagine. I get that. The problem is, again, that this doesn’t make me feel any better. It minimizes my pain, your pain. It is a critical statement that puts us in our place at the expense of our heart and mental health. It is a reminder that you are weak, or pathetic, or self-indulgent.
So feel sorry for yourself if you want to – but give yourself a time limit. Let those bad feeling flow, but not for an entire day or even an hour. For some reason this actually can help, when done honestly and with a measure of restraint. Don’t stay there, however. Maybe you need to talk to someone, someone who is not your best friend who loves you, but lacks objectivity. Perhaps that friend is just what you need and I am wrong. Whatever you do, do something.
Just keep moving, you whiner (kidding).