Has complaining sidetracked you or your group?

Are you wasting potential and avoiding improvement by focusing on what is wrong instead of attributes that could lead to more happiness, satisfaction, and solutions? Could you, your company, your organization, or your community benefit from a better balance between identifying or complaining about negatives and imagining or bonding over positives?

A post on The Daily Love asks whether your relationships support your empowerment. Read it here. It provides insight and questions to help you reflect on the relationships in your life and whether they’re helping you. Apply that examination to all aspects of your world, from social groups to City Hall.

It’s common to find fellowship through complaint. You get together to grumble about work, your significant other, your lack of significant other, the government, the economy, something that happened in the past, current affairs, relatives, your weight, what others think of your weight, mutually despised individuals or groups, and countless other sources of irritation and frustration. These complaints can be reasonable, and pretending that problems don’t exist or refusing to talk about them creates a false sense of the world or a blanket of protection for a real issue.

Yes, the government wastes money sometimes. Yes, some corporations put their profits above what is good for their employees or society. Yes, some people are shallow and mean and difficult to understand. Yes, you have valid feelings and thoughts and deserve to recognize them. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can help you gain perspective on how you might change your situation or interpretations.

However, the allure of connecting over faults or problems can work against the best interests of yourself or your community. The binding power of negativity can blind you to strengths and solutions. This is true of one-on-one relationships, of organizations or communities, of businesses, and of concepts that bring people together, such as the Occupy movement or the Tea Party. Show up to the discussion, but then put up or shut up.

If the foundation of your connection is opposing something or complaining about something, improvement of that thing can feel like a threat to your connection. And connection is an incredibly powerful motivation. Having something to get angry about together can create feelings of belonging, but if it also requires that you maintain anger to maintain that belonging, then what you’re really choosing is to become an angry person. Do you really wish to incorporate more bitterness and frustration into your personality?

What happens if your friend changes eating or exercise practices, and you haven’t developed other reasons for the two of you to connect beyond weight loss or body improvement? Or if the person you always talk to about the trouble with singlehood gets into a relationship or decides to make peace with it and stop looking? Or if people develop a solution to the problem that has been stirring you up; do you develop a “need” for a new problem? Or what happens if you realize you don’t have the power to improve a situation: You’re not on the board of a company or you don’t win a leadership role in your organization or government?

How many of the people who are currently in your life would still be interesting or companionable if the thing you complain about improves or won’t improve with your current level of power or action?

You can spend your life dwelling on pain and problems. Complaining can provide the illusion of purpose and connection, but if it doesn’t result in things getting better, then why are you wasting your time and energy on it? If those around you are wasting their time and energy, do you really want to give them a place in your life, to influence your actions?

What are the stepping stones that exist, right now, that could move you closer to “better?” What are the strengths of you, your company, your organization, your community? How could your form bonds of improvement? What prevents you from giving up the negativity habit, and what would your life and world look like if you changed your focus?

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