Have you ever sat and listened to someone complain about their problems?
Have you been that ear for someone who was in the throes of misery and felt compelled to share it with the nearest listener?
Of course you have.
And have you ever offered suggestions for these people, perhaps an idea, an opinion, a new perspective, or something that could help them to move on from the negative and shift them to a more positive place?
If you’re like pretty much anyone else on the planet, yes, you will have done your level best to take someone out of a negative place of anger, hopelessness, or worry. And you will have learned that on way too many occasions, those people don’t take your advice, don’t try your suggestions, and don’t seem to want to do anything at all to help themselves.
The truth is that we don’t ever do anything without some sort of reward.
It doesn’t have to be conscious (and more often than not, it isn’t). But there will always be something in it for us every time we make choices in our lives. And as difficult as it is to believe, it is the same with The Complainers.
Why on earth would anyone not want to feel better?
Why would people choose to be unhappy or stuck, rather than enjoy the many incredible blessings that are available for them to discover in the world?
There are numerous reasons for this and to be honest, they are all irrelevant for the purposes of this article. It doesn’t really matter whether they need to feel like victims or remain helpless or that they never learned another way to be, or whatever else might be at play. And the reason it doesn’t matter is that you cannot change them or make them want to choose happiness, peace, or healing.
So what do you do with these people?
Well, that’s up to you, but I can tell you this: the more you allow yourself to listen to their self-pitying and self-destructive views, the more you are allowing negative energy to adversely affect your life, your happiness, and ultimately your health. Think that’s a bit of a stretch? It isn’t. There’s a reason why you feel drained, exhausted, and perhaps even sick after those heavy, miserable conversations that do not seem to allow any chance for a positive outcome. It’s because you have been impacted by a good dose of negative energy.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, good grief. That’s woo-woo.”
Nope, I swear we’re having a scientific moment. We know that everything is made up of energy.
Even Einstein said it and I don’t think anyone would call him “woo-woo.”
We know that our bodies perceive stressful situations as fight or flight scenarios, during which all growth and healing processes are halted because all energy and bodily processes are meant to be used for fighting or running. There is no energy for growing, restoring, or healing. Think of it as attempting to drive with the brakes on.
During stress, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are continuously being released into your body, usually without being burned up during a fight or a long-distance sprint away from danger.
We carry on with our relatively sedentary lives, choking on stress. Adrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure. Large amounts of cortisol are dumped into the bloodstream, diminishing the immune system’s ability to function, and suppressing the digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the growth processes. Long-term exposure to these stress hormones can cause several problems such as heart disease, depression, obesity, sleep problems, digestive troubles, and much more.
When miserable people use you as a toxic waste dump and they blast you with their negativity, listening to it can create an automatic stress response in your body.
When you’re on the receiving end of those blasts, if you are feeling anxious, worried, irritated, annoyed, frustrated, or anything else that doesn’t feel good, your body is going to start releasing stress hormones that can seriously damage your health over the long-term.
The more time you spend being that toxic waste dump, the more you are putting yourself at risk.
Am I suggesting you should never listen to anyone with a problem? No, of course not. It’s wonderful to be able to help people in need, to offer a much-needed shoulder or a bit of guidance or just to be there.
I’m talking about listening to those people who just want to moan and complain but don’t ever want to do anything about their problems. The ones who come to you repeatedly with the same old thing: the abusive spouse, the tyrant boss, the awful job. Whatever it is, the situation never changes.
It is in your best interest to find a tactful way to let them know that unless they are willing to do something to change the situation, you are really not prepared to listen to it any longer.
And it’s in their best interest, too, because it might push them to do something about it.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter who those people are. Your best friends, your children, your parents, or your colleagues.
If they choose to immerse themselves in misery and risk damaging their own health, that’s their business.
But if you are repeatedly being subjected to their unproductive blasts of negativity, you are likely paying just as high a price as they are.
With a background in the social work and counselling industry, much of my writing is non-fiction and reflects the insights gained from my own difficult life and healing journey combined with my professional experience. It relates to overcoming obstacles, facing challenges, offering guidance on how to get unstuck and moving forward. It is about the power of the mind and the words we use, the thoughts we think, and using that power to create a better life.