We're told we're a nation of whiners. True. But is it good to whine? Does whining have any value?
Yes, some of the time. Suppose you're overwhelmed at work and then your boss asks you to attend a meeting for him. A little whining to a co-worker may be all you need to dissipate your irritation before you gear up for the meeting.
If you lose a job or find your mate has been having an affair, initially you'll cry, squeal and yelp. It hurts! As the weeks go by, you'll probably settle into a steady whine. Eventually you'll move to an on-again, off-again whine.
Whining phrases include: "I can't believe he did this to me." "Why does this always happen to me?" "I can't stand it." "People are stupid." "Doesn't anyone give a darn?" "Nobody's trustworthy." "I could lie down and die and nobody would notice." "Life's crummy." "I'm so tired of this whole thing."
Note that most of these phrases place the whiner in a victim position. The whiner feels at that moment in time that he has little control over his life and what other people are doing.
If you have a mate or friend who's a whiner, here are some tips. Start by listening. Listen for 5 minutes and make a few sympathetic comments such as, "That's awful...I can see why you're upset...It's frustrating."
After 10 minutes, you might make a suggestion as to what the person could do differently. Or ask if there is anything you can do. If you get nowhere, try switching to another topic.
For example, to your friend you might say, "Well, how are your other children doing?" Or, "How do other people in your department cope?" To your mate you might suggest, "Let's have a nice dinner in spite of...." Or, "Let's have a nice evening. Why don't we start by going for a walk."
How much whining should you allow yourself? It depends on the situation. With a major problem such as a layoff or a cheating spouse, feel free to whine an hour a day. But do it in your head. If you're whining aloud to a family member or friend, a half-hour goes a long way.
If the problem is ongoing, for example, you have a difficult boss or difficult child, allow yourself a maximum of 10 minutes of whining. After 10 minutes, make yourself change the focus of the conversation. Ask the other person what's going on in her life. What happened with her today?
Another suggestion: Get up and do something physical. Sweeping a floor, taking out the trash, or sorting mail will change your focus of attention.
Everyone who whines, and most of us do from time to time, should keep track. If your whining is on the increase, perhaps there is something you need to change in your life. Also, play a game with yourself. Decide that Wednesdays and Saturdays are no whine days.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World,” “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide,” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: doriswildhelmering.com.