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here's a short section from Getting Things Done, by david allen, that goes right along with what i've been thinking about people needing to take responsibility for the direction of their lives:

"Is there too much complaining in your culture? The next time someone moans about something, try asking, 'So what's the next action?' People will complain only about something that they assume could be better than it currently is. The action question forces the issue. If it can be changed, there's some action that will change it. If it can't, it must be considered part of the landscape to be incorporated in strategy and tactics. Complaining is a sign that someone isn't willing to risk moving on a changeable situation, or won't consider the immutatble circumstance in his or her plans. This is a temporary and hollow form of self-validation."

that's all i'm saying. it takes energy to think about what to do next and make a decision, but it takes energy to complain, too, and complaining gets you nothing. maybe some attention, but no progress, and i don't know about you, but i'd take progress over sympathy any day.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 14th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
I know a goodly number of people who want nothing more than sympathy in response to their complaints. Sympathy comes with warm fuzziness and, yes, attention. Action demands discomfort and a focus apart from one's self, at least in the short-term. These people also tend to resent advice, which is an important step between sympathy and action. (Sorry! I know advice has gotten a bum rap lately.)I try to not spend a lot of mental or physical time around these people, even if some of them do pay the bills.
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)

When I complain, it's usually just venting because I'm frustrated or angry. Usually, it's in concert with the movement needed to change the situation. But sometimes, events are out of my control and I have to complain because there's nothing TO do.
Feb. 16th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
I think it kind of depends.

If you've got issues and you bottle them up, that's not always the best thing healthwise to do. Sometimes a bit of venting isn't a bad thing in that regard.

On the other hand, the author's comment reminds me of what a friend once told me about how a crisis is a problem you didn't address early on. There's certainly something about getting pro-active on an issue rather than just griping about how awful it all is.
Feb. 16th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Re: Whiners
i'm not bothered by minor venting; it's long-term, repetitive complaining about the same things, without really trying to change them, that bothers me. some people will claim that they're trying to change a situation when they're setting fairly strict limits on what they're willing to try, and that still seems to me to be a preference for complaining over making significant changes.
Feb. 16th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
Re: Whiners
I have a friend who has gotten into serious financial hot water that's a lot like that. It's like he has just given up at times (enough debt, bad luck and rejection can do that I fear). He has far too much reflexive negativism and stubbornness for his own good, imo. I try to give him some options to consider and hope he runs with some of it.
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
Re: Whiners
I think we all do it in some area or another. We choose our complaints over action, even if it's just in our heads.

The thing I thought was brilliant about that excerpt was this:

People will complain only about something that they assume could be better than it currently is.

The reason I thought that was smart is because complaining comes from "this should be different". But it can't be different. What is, is. Now what? :)
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: Whiners
Yes, if you sabotage things on the front end that's not very helpful. :)

We do get trapped by our pre-existing mindsets however and it takes an active effort to break out of those. Especially the older and more experienced you get.

John-Paul Sartre used to talk about breaking the little bones in his head. I've always liked that line.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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