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Pain olympics and the issue of complaining

We+treat+complaints+as+something+to+shun%2C+but+they+are+a+valid+way+to+work+through+problems.+By+listening+to+one+another+and+working+together%2C+we+can+use+these+complaints+to+create+positive+change.+
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Pain olympics and the issue of complaining

We treat complaints as something to shun, but they are a valid way to work through problems. By listening to one another and working together, we can use these complaints to create positive change.

We treat complaints as something to shun, but they are a valid way to work through problems. By listening to one another and working together, we can use these complaints to create positive change.

We treat complaints as something to shun, but they are a valid way to work through problems. By listening to one another and working together, we can use these complaints to create positive change.

We treat complaints as something to shun, but they are a valid way to work through problems. By listening to one another and working together, we can use these complaints to create positive change.


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Our culture has a problem with complaining. No, not that we do it too much, though I’m sure that some do, but that we don’t understand its value. We treat it like a character flaw and look down on those who voice their problems. Our society treats it as a weakness. It’s not.

Have you ever stopped to consider that complaining is a way to process things out loud? Some people can come to a solution for a problem better when they verbally process the issue. Yet some people would only see this as a negative trait.

Or perhaps they simply need to release the emotions associated with their problem. That’s healthy. We hear the phrase “bottle up” when speaking about unexpressed emotions, and that is exactly what not complaining is. Think of it like a dam, and the emotions and issues are like a raging river. If there isn’t some sort of release, something’s going to break. Complaining can be that release.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we ought to complain a lot. After all, constantly focusing on the negative isn’t good for us either. Maybe focusing on something positive for a while can help reframe the problem in a better light. Or maybe your spirit will be refreshed and be able to tackle the issue again.

The big problem I see in how our culture tends to deal with complaining is that we devalue its legitimacy. Just think about the phrase “but others have it worse!” In five words, that person has just been told that their problem isn’t worth solving because there are more important problems to focus on. Really? Pain olympics? Just, no.

Not only that, but the phrase also implies that the person with the complaint is selfish for focusing on their problems. But our society also looks down on people who avoid their problems. In essence, we’re telling them to solve their problems without spending any mental or emotional energy on them. Talk about an oxymoron. How is anyone supposed to achieve that?

Some advice for the complainer (coming from a perpetual pessimist): get the issue off your chest, then think of something else for a bit and come back later. You might get a new perspective. Asking for advice or help is a great option too.
Some advice for anyone who hears a complaint: value it. For some people, the fact that they felt they could be open about it to you is a big thing. Don’t botch it. Offer a listening ear at least. If you have advice or the ability to help, ask if you can give it. Some people might not want more than a listening ear so that they can get things off their chest. Others may crave any help they can get.

The idea that our problems and pains are a competition, that people can’t have issues if others have worse ones needs to die. There will be people who have it worse off than you—always. That doesn’t mean your issues and emotions can’t be heard. Complaining isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Pain olympics and the issue of complaining