This post is part of a continuing series on Writing Our Next Chapter Together. Get comfy, now, in your favorite spot. Pour that glass of wine, cup of tea or coffee, whatever soothes you, and relax while you read.
“Would you like some cheese with that whine?” Say that to the person you’re listening to, and he/she will either smile and quit whining or get upset and say, “I’m not whining, I’m venting.” Same thing in my book. I’m not saying we shouldn’t whine to a good listener sometimes, and it’s not an easy task to stop complaining about the stressors in our lives. It can help, at least temporarily.
What happens when you keep all your complaints, anger and sadness to yourself? They can build and build culminating in an explosion, or they can fester inside your psyche causing you to develop physical malfunctions like high blood pressure and heart problems.
How have you handled situations like losing your job, divorce or being in an unhealthy relationship, the loss of a spouse or parent? Find a friend, pour some wine and let it all out. Then make a plan to fix the problem, change your attitude and move on.
Unfortunately, some people find themselves complaining constantly and others hold in the anger, fear and frustration until they spiral down into depression or explode uncontrollably.
Of course, venting or “blowing off steam” relieves the pressure of emotional stress. Although, sometimes venting, the very thing you thought would help you feel better, becomes excessive to the point of getting sick of listening to yourself. Maybe we should take that “steam” you want to release, and use it to power a positive action, instead.
Try abstaining from venting for a period of time and allow that steam to build. Instead of exploding, use the power of your harnessed frustrations to cause a change in the status quo. Ghandi wrote, “As heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.” You can move your world.
I remember only one time in my life that I was able to abstain from venting and use that power positively. We had lost our business and were about to lose everything else. We decided to move out of state for better employment opportunities. My husband left in August to find a home and a job. It was my job to keep food on the table, keep the kids from being scared and do what was necessary to prepare to move 2,500 miles across the country. I, subconsciously, used my own fears and frustrations to help me power through the necessary tasks. I was working, carting my son to karate lessons and providing my daughter her time for piano and voice lessons. I held a monstrous garage sale, to raise money for the move, selling most of our furniture and belongings I would not have otherwise given up.
I kept telling the kids and myself this was an adventure. I would tell my son, who was 9 at the time, that we’d have so much sunshine he could ride his bike to school and practice his golf swing everyday. My daughter at 15 was not as easy to charm. The prospect of getting her first job was alluring. She’d be going to a cool high school with no roof and a grand lobby with a fountain and vending machines, which gave her something to brag about with the friends she’d miss so terribly.
My stomach churned every time I thought of losing our home and moving so far away. this was our best choice to get back on our feet financially. I couldn’t break down and make the children worry. I had to be strong.
It was November before my husband found a stable job and rented a house for us. Then it was time for me to pack what was left and wait for my husband to come home to load the truck. Off we went on our “adventure” cross-country.
Later, my friends asked how I was able to stay so positive when our lives were completely turned upside down? I honestly didn’t know at the time how to verbalize it. I just took everything I was feeling and used it to power us through this upheaval.
I learned that I may not be able to change my circumstance, but I can change my attitude.
Can you vow not to complain about anything you can change? Keeping that promise would, indeed, be a challenge. Confiding to a friend provides us with support and validation that would be tough to do without. Whining is venting with no effort to find a positive change.
Have you been able to power through your difficult times? How has that changed you?
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