Tag Archives: Complaining

Are you willing? Are you ready?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

During one of my regular shifts in the psychiatric emergency room of a general hospital a patient arrived who was feeling exceedingly anxious and worried. He had experienced a number of recent life events contributing to his emotional state. And he added to his list of recent concerns by piling on more issues and challenges he had been juggling and trying to handle for awhile.

In my well meaningman2 attempts to be helpful I shared some very specific ideas and suggestions for some coping skills he could immediately start to implement. Simply taking some deep breaths and focusing on the rise and fall of his chest and belly should be a good and helpful start. These suggestions were met with an increase in his upset and anxiety leading to tears. Clearly I was contributing to his condition worsening.

Later it hit me. This fellow was invested in his upset and suffering. He was not yet read or willing to change.

I was reminded of my own personal experience years earlier. While washing dishes I was deep into an argument with my husband, even though my husband was not home at the time.

At some point I realized my ranting, raving and complaining was not helping me get what I wanted and needed. I even went so far as deciding a different course of action that would help me get what I wanted and needed.

I asked myself two important questions:

Am I willing to do something different?

          Am I ready to do something different? 

          NO!

This was the simple truth. Even though I had evaluated my present behavior as being ineffective, I was not ready or willing to give it up . . . YET!

The present argument was quite satisfying. I was able to express my feelings and desires without interruption. I could be right and righteous without interruption or contradiction. I would WIN this argument.

Later, I told myself, I would approach my husband and engage in a conversation where we could work toward compromise and mutually satisfactory solutions. Later I would be ready and willing.

Now I know better. Now I will still offer my patients some immediate skills and solutions to help them improve their sense of well being and settle their emotional upheaval. But first I will ask:

Is what you are doing now helping you get what you need and want?

Are you willing and ready to consider doing something different?

Respecting their present state of mind I will ask if they are ready, willing and wanting to move forward for greater Mental Health and Happiness.

Turn Your Complaints Inside Out

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Complaining is one of the deadly habits that can help destroy relationships, according to William Glasser. Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly, this is the person we try to avoid. And sometimes the complaining person is yourself whom it is impossible to avoid.

Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our mental health and happiness.

However, complaining is part of human nature. Why? Because our brain is set up that way. Here’s the bad news: our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right, or off, or a mismatch between what we want and what we perceive we’re getting in our world. This brain attribute is necessary for our survival. But this also means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in the world, according to us. When we notice out loud it sounds like complaining.

Most of us occasionally comment about these mismatches, or differences. Some people comment and point this out a lot—ugh! (If you want to read a plethora of celebrations of complaints about these mismatches spend time reading Facebook posts.This is our present public forum where we complain and like the world as it should or should not be according to us — just as our brain is designed to do.)

If you spend any time on social media you may have noticed advice from some recent blogs regarding happiness. We are encouraged to stop complaining for twenty-four hours. Great idea! Great advice! However this is easier said than done. Our brain keeps getting in the way, noticing and pointing out all that’s wrong: the weather, the traffic, the temperature of our morning brew, our co-workers, our relatives, our neighbors, our politicians, and on and on and on it goes. And when we comment on all of these things, it comes out as complaining.

If today is the day you want to give up complaining for twenty-four hours to improve your Mental Health & Happiness, here are some tips to honor your brain and still succeed. When you notice what is wrong start asking yourself what you want instead of complaining about what is wrong.

It will sound like this “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down. I’ll sit on the floor.” or “There are no more seats in this waiting room. I would like to sit down but I’ll take this opportunity to stretch.”

Today, every time you notice something worth complaining about, start declaring what you want instead. Are you able to get what you want? Good for you. Are you able to change what you want instead? Does that help? Are you able to see the advantage or alternate payoff for getting something different from what you want? Does that help?

An additional strategy is giving thanks and being grateful for what you’ve noticed in the world, yourself and other people, even if your first impression is a complaint: (aim for a neutral tone and avoid a sarcasm)

I’m grateful for the traffic that will make me late for work.

I’m grateful for the package that has still not arrived in the mail.

I’m grateful that my co-worker is refusing to help me complete this project.

I’m grateful that my brother is not answering my calls, texts or messages. 

canstockphoto15119958Once you’ve declared your gratitude, let it go and move on. You may discover the gift, lesson or opportunity that was wrapped into the complaint as you perceived it. Or not. However declaring gratitude is much more attractive than complaining; attractive to other people as well as yourself.

When you start making these kinds of changes you may begin to get more of what you want instead of simply complaining. Amazingly, when you start interacting differently with your world of complaints you may actually begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want. Now that you have greater clarity you can act more effectively to get what you want. The result? Greater Mental Health & Happiness.

Here’s a word of caution. If you spend time complaining about other people, you still need to keep your focus on what you want, not simply focusing on how you want the other person to change. Instead of complaining, “I wish my child would stop whining. I want a child who doesn’t whine,” may sound like you’re following the advice offered here. See if you can go deeper though. If your child stopped whining and you got what you want, what would that be? Would you be engaged in a more pleasant interaction with your child? Do you want a happier atmosphere when completing a chore? Once you know what you want you can act accordingly. Start singing, smiling, offering compliments about the world, your child, yourself. Your child may still be whining. And still you can create a more pleasant atmosphere while you interact with your child lovingly, no matter how he or she is acting.

People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining — Stephan Hawking

Daily gratitude at the post office

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

Going to the post office has been a regular part of my daily routine for many years. I often have books to mail, packages to sign for and my business post box to check on.

For several years I lived in a rural part of Rhode Island where there was never a need to wait in  line. There were never that many customers. Now I’ve moved to a new state and into a city where everything has changed. Now I need a strategy about when to go to the post office. The best time is first thing in the morning, before the doors are even open. Although I still end up waiting in line, the wait is for the doors to be open instead of the long line of costumers in front of me.

Today I arrived at the post office before the doors opened. There was one man waiting in front of me. I was pleased to discover I was going to be the second person attended to. As so often happens, the fellow and I began to chat. It didn’t take long before I mentally named him Mr. Grumble-Grouch.

This is the worst post office in the district. All the people who work for the post office are just lazy. It’s because of the unions. People know they can’t be fired. It’s no wonder the post office is going bankrupt. 

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this is just a sample of all that he had to say.

I was thinking how wonderful it is that I can spend a little bit of time and a little bit of money and am able to send my book halfway around the world. I’m always delighted when I see the postal truck at my neighborhood complex delivering our mail. Yes, there are mistakes made. But I’m actually amazed at the number of mistakes compared to the quantity of accurately delivered mail. I am grateful for  the United States Postal Service delivering my mail through snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night.

postalworker_4326258

Then there is Dave, the wonderful postal employee who works at my neighborhood post office. He is always polite, helpful, cheery, kind and sincere. I admit there are other postal workers at the counter who are not so pleasant or helpful. I don’t think I would call them lazy as Mr. Grumble-Grouch did. But it does seem as though they let people, events and circumstances interfere with their ability to interact kindly with each person they see. I know that the few minutes I experienced with Mr. Grumble-Grouch tested my patience and capacity for civility. And I wasn’t even the target of his angry complaining.

But not Dave. Dave has a secret. In fact the next time I’m in the post office, which might just be tomorrow, I’m going to ask him what his secret is. I know his ability to be pleasant and of service adds to my gratitude at this post office. I bet Dave has something to teach me about Mental Health & Happiness. I’m going to find out.

Stay tuned . . .

 

You make me so miserable!!!

Dr. Ken Larsen

miserable_kenDr. Glasser told us that we choose our own misery.  That’s just what a miserable person wants to hear, right?  WRONG!  When I ‘m miserable I want someone to blame.  I want to feel helpless and a victim of the fickle finger of adverse circumstances.  Something, someone OUT THERE is causing my misery and suffering.

The problem is whose behavior can I control?  If my suffering is caused by someone or something outside of myself, I am condemned to a prolonged period of suffering.  I am a victim.  No one understands me.  Poor me.

Please forgive my mocking tone as I make this point.  The hopeful message that Dr. Glasser was bringing us is that if we are choosing our own misery, we can choose something else.  If we stop criticizing, blaming and complaining about external causes, we can take responsibility for our life and our total behavior.   A good way to recapture the mental health and happiness that has slipped away is to look at what we can change, our behavior.

total-behaviorDr. Glasser talks about total behavior as the four wheels on a car.  The front wheels are what steer the car.  They are how we choose to act and to think.  The back wheels are often the result of what we are doing with the front wheels.  Our actions and our thoughts have an impact on our emotions and our physiology.  The evidence for this is conclusive.

The hard part is turning away from the misery that shelters us from responsibility.  It takes courage and determination.  To change our miserable feelings, we need to move away from the back wheels and work on what we are doing and thinking.  This can be as simple as taking a walk, and reading an inspirational account of someone who has overcome their misery.

I have had bouts of depression and melancholy many times throughout my life.  I have learned to pay attention to what I’m telling you here.  It’s hard to stay miserable and depressed when physically active.  I’ve learned to take a walk, ride a bike, go the club for a workout, call a friend.  Anything to shift the focus of my attention from the navel gazing “poor, poor, pitiful me” to something that refreshes my appreciation for the life that I have.

For many of us, this message is a review of fundamental insights from Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory.  It is good to review fundamentals from time to time to refresh the wisdom we have learned.

Turn your complaint inside out

By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN

nagging

Complaining is one of the deadly habits that contributes to destroying relationships according to William Glasser. A recent study reported in a Psychology Today blog stated that the most common complaint men have about marriage is the amount of complaining that their wives do. (Anyone else besides me notice the irony of men complaining about women complaining?)

Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly this is the person we try to avoid. Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our Mental Health & Happiness.

So why do so many people, including each of us, engage in this habit?

Our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right in our world. This attribute is necessary for our very survival. When we were evolving as a species it was important to notice when our environment changed enough to put our very survival at risk. When a pride of lions decided to move into the next door cave where we were living it was important that we noticed this change.  Had our brain not alerted us to this danger and we not then taken appropriate action, that would have been the end of us!

This means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in our world. Luckily most of us do not need to comment or complain about everything that is wrong. But most of us will comment or complain about some things sometimes.

Several of the recent blogs and social media posters writing about increased happiness advocate that people go twenty-four hours without complaining. Great idea. But what are you going to do instead? If complaining is a natural and brain based urge, if you don’t have some other strategy to follow instead you are most likely to fall right back into complaining all over again.

Why not use this natural brain-based ability to your advantage. Every time you notice something worth complaining about you can take this opportunity to start declaring what you want instead. The more you do this the more you will begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want in your life.

So instead of complaining about the lions who moved in next door you could say I look forward to finding a new home where friendly and safe neighbors surround us.

Instead of complaining about the weather you could say I look forward to the next sunny day or Im sorry for me its raining. Im happy for the gardens and flowers that it is raining.

Instead of complaining about some physical ailment that is causing you pain you could say This stomach ache is reminding me to make better food choices in the future or This headache reminds me to spend more time in gentle light to be kinder to myself.

Instead of complaining about all the complainers that surround you, you could say I wonder what these people want that they are not getting?

Go ahead and eliminate complaining for twenty-four hours. And for better Mental Health & Happiness replace your complaining with a declaration of what you want instead.

 

Are you willing?

By Nancy S Buck, PhD,RN

Are you willing to take one action step that will improve your Mental Health & Happiness? This isn’t going to involve a lot of time, money or sacrifice? Well, maybe I spoke too soon. For some people this will take more energy, effort and hard work than it will for others. But it probably won’t mean that you will perspire, grunt or strain.

Here’s the proposition: Stop complaining for twenty-four hours. That’s it. Don’t speak or even think a complaint for twenty-four hours. Go ahead, I dare you.

Complaining is a natural and normal part of the human experience. Our brains are biologically driven to seek information in our environment about what will help, support and sustain us and what is interfering with our good biological and psychological satisfaction and survival. Our brain is driven to behave when there is a mismatch between what we want and what we perceive we’re getting. One of the first behaviors we use when there is a mismatch is complaining.

I’m not warm enough. . . . . .  I think I’m getting a cold. . . . . There isn’t enough light in this room.             

Complaining by itself is not a problem. But continuous complaining without constructive and positive action can be debilitating. Complaining certainly can interfere with relationships as well. You probably know someone who is a constant complainer. Debbie Downer can always find what is wrong in any situation.

You can also be your own Donald Downer. I’ve had my own periods in my life where I’ve complained to anyone who would listen about being so tired of listening to my own complaints!

If you decide to take this challenge and give up complaining for twenty-four hours an interesting thing will begin to happen. Since you know you are not going to complain about all you see, hear, and perceive about what is wrong in your world, you will begin to notice all that is right, in harmony, pleasing and beautiful in yourself and in your world. Instead of talking about how bad it is that you’re not getting what you want, you may begin to talk about what you do want. The miserable day that you might have had will become a wonderful day that you are having, simply because you’ve chosen to stop complaining about what isn’t and started to notice what is.

Go ahead, give it a try. Improve your Mental Health & Happiness by complaining no more, or at least for twenty-four hours.

Are you willing?

Jump for Joy and Happiness

By Dr. Nancy Buck

Want to know what mental health and happiness looks like? Watch a child discover then dive deep into play with a puddle. There may be no greater happiness or pure joy anywhere.

So what’s wrong with us? Too many adults awaken to a rainy day with dreary thoughts, complaining to themselves or anyone else who will listen about how the rain is going to interfere with their day, their plans or their spirits.

canstockphoto15119958Imagine you wake up to a rainy day with joyful anticipation. Grabbing your rain coat and boots you march outside. You’re on a hunt. The goal is to discover every puddle to jump into. See if you succeed in maker bigger and bigger splashes.

Why should you do this? Just for the joy and fun of it. And along with this action you will find a bit of improved mental health and happiness.

Try it and see.
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If you could offer one piece of advice for Mental Health and Happiness what would it be?

You ain’t nuthin but a hound dog!

By Mike Rice

We humans can be pretty resilient when disappointed or when things don’t go our way.  One of the most common ways people declare their unhappiness is by complaining.  When all known skills to overcome one’s unhappiness fail, complaining becomes evident.  We’ve all heard the old saw, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”  But also, the squeaky wheel can also get replaced.

There is a belief that exists that by moaning and groaning, somehow, somewhere, someone will come along with the answer to one’s unhappiness or even resolve their unhappiness for them.  This usually occurs when the complainer has given up on their own ability to ease their frustration.  So they continue to go through life, moaning and groaning and not doing much about their unhappiness except to give up and endure it . . . complaining all along.

Motivational speaker, Les Brown, tells the story of a young man who heard a sorrowful moaning and groaning sound as he was walking down the street in his neighborhood.  He wondered who and why someone was making this sad lament.  He followed the sorrowful sounds as it got louder and louder indicating he was nearing the source.  He came upon an elderly man sitting on his porch reading a newspaper.  Lying next to the old man was an equally old hound dog.  The young man approached the older man and asked:

dog

“Excuse me sir.  Is that your dog making that mournful sound?”
The old man replied:  “Yup.”
The young man asked, “Why is he moaning and groaning like that?”
The old man answered, “’Cause he’s laying on a nail.”
This prompted the younger man to ask, “Then why doesn’t he get up?”
And the old man replied, “’Cause he ain’t hurtin’ bad enough yet.”

Is moaning and groaning resolving your unhappiness or is it just easing your frustration?  Have you found many people to join you in your unhappiness?  Misery loves company but company hates misery.   Whenever you get tired of all the complaining that isn’t making you feel any better, you have three choices you can rely on that will bring you happiness at a moment’s notice . . . guaranteed.

Deadly Relationship Habits

By Kim Olver

Today,  I just want to mention seven Deadly Relationship Habits and later I will give you seven behaviors you can use instead to create a strong foundation to any important relationship in your life, including the relationship you have with yourself.

When I ask the question, “Whose behavior you can control?”, most people intellectually know they can only control themselves. And yet, how often to we attempt to control those around us to change so that our life will be better? Most people who don’t know about Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology, tend to create their own misery by trying to get others to do things they really don’t want to do and even some of us who do use Choice Theory in our lives, still catch ourselves doing it from time to time.

This also happens with others attempting to get you to do what you don’t want to do as well. Has someone close to you ever used the following behaviors to attempt to get you to do something you don’t want to do? Have you ever used them with others?: Complaining, Blaming, Criticizing, Nagging, Threatening, Punishing and Bribing, otherwise known as Rewarding to Control.

nagging

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t at least experienced these behaviors from others or you have used them with people you care about: your children, your aging parents, siblings, our significant other and most definitely, with yourself. When you have a strong foundation to your relationship, using these behaviors every now and then, probably won’t cause a big problem but think about a concrete foundation. Now, imagine taking a pickaxe to the concrete every time you engage in one of these behaviors. Can you see, hear and feel the relationship foundation crumbling under your feet? The more you use them, the less solid your foundation becomes.

After learning these, people sometimes start to guilt or punish themselves for using these deadly relationship habits. I once had a mother in one of my workshops declare that she was a horrible mother for using every one of these behaviors with her children. The truth is she was not a horrible mother. She was simply doing/repeating behaviors she had learned in her lifetime that had helped her get something she wanted.

The problem is we don’t always consider the cost of getting what we want. We can’t use a deadly habit without causing some damage to the relationship. So watch for upcoming posts where I will discuss the healthy relationship habits to substitute instead.

In the meantime, don’t attempt to stop using these deadly ones; just begin to notice when you use one. This will help you make their use more conscious so you can reduce their use without even trying. Just notice when you use them and you’ll be surprised how much less you engage in them.