Entry 2: Complaining about Complaining

With no baseball to serve as our national pastime, I believe complaining can finally take its rightful place.  People love to whine.  Too short, too long, too cold, too hot.  Let’s examine perspective and its relationship with complaining.

Consideration – Reframing 100 degree temperatures

                Makes 90 degrees look tolerable

                Excuse to avoid doing something you didn’t want to do

                Increase your respect for air conditioning

                Comforting thought when the temperature is 10 below zero

                Reminder to visit someone who might be at risk

                Free heat

                Chance to clean out your pores

Living in the Midwest it seems like we get about five days of 100+ temperatures each year.  On those days the 100+ generally lasts about 6 hours.  Doing the math that’s 30 hours of 100+ per year.  A 365 day year has 8,760 hours which means that we experience extreme heat for three tenths of one percent in any given year (.003).  Is 3/10ths of 1% a significant experience?  Would you invest in a financial plan with a projected .3% return on investment.  (Well maybe some would they do routinely buy lottery tickets where the odds of winning are less than 1 in 15 million.)  Would you get worked up if the interest on your car loan changed from 0.0% to .3%.  How does such a short period of intense heat result in so much complaining?  It’s just a matter of perspective.

I wonder if those who complain about the heat have ever stopped to calculate the percentage of their life that the devote to complaining.  If a person were to spend 1 minute complaining about each of five issues a day, they would spend 30.41 hours complaining each year. (5 minutes x 365 days / 60 minutes = 30.41 hours).  A seasoned complainer can knock out 5 minutes of complaining and barely have to stop to take a breath.  Most experienced gripers spend even more time with internal complaining called “self-gripe.”

Complaining is one mechanism for releasing energy.  Most creatures are innately restless.  Human restlessness can result in productive accomplishments or dissatisfaction.  One manifestation of dissatisfaction is complaining.

What’s your perspective on complaining?

                Natural phenomenon

                Necessary evil

                Healthy release of negative energy

                God-given right

                Typical way of dealing with things that don’t go our way

To help you examine your perspective on complaining let’s consider complaining inflow and outflow.

Consider your reactions to the complaining of others

                Third party – overhearing others complain.  Do you become intrigued by the content?  Curious about their life journey?  Annoyed by having to listen to it?

                Recipient – others complaining to you.  Are you sympathetic to their issues?  Glad they picked you to unload on? Looking for an opening to get in the complaining game?  Strategizing how to get out of the situation?

                Target – someone complaining to you about you.  Are you open to their criticism? Seeking to figure how you can grow from the experience? Angry at their abrasiveness?  Plotting to put them in their place?

What’s your take on the complaining you engage in?

                General griping – complaining without even realizing that you are doing it

                Social griping – complaining to fit in with others

                Entitled griping – complaining about inconveniences or injustices which disrupt your life

                Targeted griping – complaining at someone who you believe needs or deserves to be griped at because they have disrupted your life

I find it troubling that as much as I believe that complaining is an unproductive use of energy, I still get caught in the complaining process.  Why an unproductive use of energy?  Consider these questions.

                Does complaining about the heat reduce the temperature?

                Does complaining seem to bring a sense of relief to the complainer?

                Does complaining lead to an action plan to change the impact of the heat on them?

                Does complaining seem to represent an overall negative perspective of the individual doing the complaining?

Consider this.  If you know a complainer you can hide from them, however that individual has to hang around themselves all day.  That’s a discouraging thought.

So is a 100 degree temperature a problem or a temporary experience?  If extreme heat creates a risk, seek alternatives.  Apply a cool towel, find a location with air conditioning, keep hydrated, seek shade where there is a slight breeze, pray for rain and remember this situation is temporary.


A current trend in physical wellness is counting steps.  How about focusing on emotional wellness by counting complaints?  Get a counter or a note pad and record a point for each time you find yourself complaining.  Keep track for a couple of days and see how you do.  If you really want to regret a decision, ask someone else to monitor your complaining and give you regular updates.  Once you have established a baseline consider putting yourself on a complaining diet.  Put a quarter in a jar each time you complain to help fund your retirement.

As you become more aware of your perspective on complaining you will realize just how much control you can have over it.  Change what you can and adjust to what you can’t or don’t want to change.  Whatever you choose is okay.  It’s your perspective.

                Keith Neuber     keith@ikan2.com             www.ikan2.com

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