By: Marilyn L. Davis
How Whiny are You?
“If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Speaking negatively about people and situations is how many of us spend our time talking to family, co-workers, and even in our recovery support meetings. Not to mention texting about all that’s wrong with our lives or people in it.
We complain, vent, and whine about spouses, the children, the teachers, the economy, the hours we work, and those who annoy us at our recovery support meetings.
Complaining, Venting, or Whining?
Complaining is expressing feelings of pain, dissatisfaction, or disappointment.
- I was disappointed when the train ran late, and I missed my appointment. I called and got my meeting rescheduled.
Venting is often the cathartic release of thoughts and emotions.
- I’m so irritated with our public transportation system. When they schedule a train, arriving late is unacceptable unless there’s a good excuse. I missed an important meeting yesterday and was fortunate that I reached the supervisor as phone service on the train is spotty, too.
On the other hand, whining is complaining, and venting laced with pity, “it isn’t fair, “poor me” negativity.
- I’m constantly getting screwed. Yesterday it was the train; yes, a train, because my folks wouldn’t buy me a car or even co-sign a loan so I could get to the meeting. I know I didn’t repay the last loan, but I had to change jobs; my female boss was jealous of my co-workers’ attention and couldn’t deal with the competition. I can’t help that I’m gorgeous; even that’s a curse. Course you wouldn’t understand. And this new job, they don’t appreciate me. I’m sensitive to criticism, and when someone criticizes my work, I cry. My boss doesn’t have any compassion. That late train probably cost me another job, and I’ve just quit the one I got last month, but with a jealous boss, I wasn’t going to catch any breaks anyway — just another chapter in my miserable life.
If It Were Up to Me
When our focus is negative, it creates the illusion that we know how things should be or how people should act. And when these things don’t happen or don’t happen as quickly as we think they should, we let everyone know exactly how we feel.
In our addiction, most of us complained, vented, and whined without a single rational thought about a solution. Nor did we listen when people would give us suggestions like, “Maybe if you stop putting cocaine up your nose, you’ll have money.”
When I heard that, I remember going on a rant (that’s an angrier whine) about how they didn’t understand the pressures I was under, and I had to use to cope.
Continuing to use cost me another friend, and the loss of that friendship ‘made me’ us more.
Recovery is Realigning the Whining
We may think of realigning as something done to our cars, but couldn’t we also apply it to our thinking?
When we get out of balance in our recovery, we speak negatively. However, unlike in our addiction, we choose how we view the circumstances of our lives and can usually put a more positive spin on things if we’re making an effort.
Why Positive Beats Petulant
Barbara L. Fredrickson, a Ph.D. and author of Positivity isn’t just giving us ‘feel-good’ advice. She has conducted studies, and extensive research on why being positive is good for our emotional and physical health.
From an Amazon review: This book describes in an accessible and captivating way what the research by her and her colleagues has taught her about what Positivity is and what it does.
In her explanation of what Positivity is, she mentions ten forms of Positivity: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. As to what Positivity does, maybe it is best to start with six facts she mentions about Positivity:
1) Feels good
2) Changes how your mind works
3) Transforms your future
4) Puts the brakes on negativity
5) Obeys a tipping point
A briefer way of describing what Positivity amounts to is that it opens your mind and helps you get on a positive trajectory, an upward spiral. In other words: it makes you flourish. Flourishing is more than being happy. In Barbara Fredrickson’s words: “Flourishing goes beyond happiness, or satisfaction with life. True, people who flourish are happy. But that’s not half of it.
Feel Good – Do Good
Beyond feeling good, people also tend to do good – adding value to the world. People who flourish engage more with their families, work, and communities.
Looking for the silver lining in every situation or only focusing on the good qualities of a problematic person (if you can even find one) might sound a bit like Pollyanna.
No, I’m not advocating putting on blinders and ignoring difficulties in your recovery. But most of us harmed people, created chaos, and lived negative lives in our addiction, and it’s going to take time to get our houses in order.
Whine or Shine? That’s Always the Choice
Changing the way, we think takes time. Recovery allows us to learn new skills, attitudes, and actions, but it also gives us time to unlearn the self-defeating patterns of negative thinking and speaking.
When we begin the day on a positive note, it makes the day and our recovery shine.
The most important thing about positivity is that we can increase it by practicing it. Click To Tweet
Writing and recovery heal the heart.
When you’re ready to tell us what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now, consider a guest post.
How you say ‘recovery works’ will touch people in ways that my words can’t.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.
For editing services, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.