Thursday, April 17, 2014

Silver Linings

... and irritating whinings.


I firmly believe in silver linings. Sometimes they might be hard to find, but they are always there.

 OK, I admit that I have a Pollyanna complex.




Once upon a time, for a short period in my life, I believed that behind every cloud was an even bigger cloud. If you read my book, Peeling the Onion, you will find out how I managed to get past that short, dark period in my life. And once I did start to see the silver lining I realized just how difficult, and unpleasant, I must have been to be around. As a result I have to make an effort to be sympathetic with people who constantly whine and find fault with petty things like the weather or a disturbed night. Particularly when there are so many people much worse off, but with a more positive outlook.

Sometimes I think being negative is a habit that people fall into when they are bored, lonely or generally dissatisfied with their life but don't know how to change it, or perhaps don't believe it is within their power to do so. I can't believe it is a ploy to get attention or sympathy, because the main reaction I have is irritation and I really would prefer to spend my time with people who can see the silver lining and who take the time to count their blessings and I am sure most people feel that way.

I am not a religious person, and I don't pray, mainly because I truly believe that I am responsible for my own life and laying that responsibility on any other person, power or potentate is pointless, somewhat cowardly and shirking my responsibility to myself . Having issued that disclaimer, The Serenity Prayer does express my feelings exactly, after I replace the first six words with these six:
I will have the sense to... accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Now that works for me.

As always, when I start to ponder something like this, I consult Google to see what information is available to support or oppose my opinion. I was interested to find a few articles all with the same theme, that whining is a habit. It would appear that over two years ago therapists in the US moved away from the traditional sympathetic attitude towards their clients, and have started to cut-short continuous whining. Perhaps Jane Lynch's portrayal of a therapist in Two and a Half Men was not so far from reality after all.

Here are links to a few of the articles I found:

The Buffalo News online, this excerpt made me stop and think - and vow to look more closely at the beam in my own eye, after all, I could be accused here of whining about whiners.. right?
"If you want to keep other people from whining, the first step is to stop engaging in it yourself."
It would be nice to think that the corollary is also true, that if you see only silver linings, so too will others? Or maybe we need to find out what the next step is.

Psychologytoday.com blog also made me think, it is possible to become more competent and develop internal strength, but it is not easy and I guess some people just can't do it. Perhaps I need to be a bit more tolerant and understanding?
"They will continue to whine until they develop more of a sense of competence and internal strength, which will not happen overnight."
The Wall Street Journal published this article by Elizabeth Bernstein. This is her definition of whining:
"Whining, as defined by experts—the therapists, spouses, co-workers and others who have to listen to it—is chronic complaining, a pattern of negative communication. It brings down the mood of everyone within earshot. It can hold whiners back at work and keep them stuck in a problem, rather than working to identify a solution. It can be toxic to relationships."
I do know that I enjoy life so much more when my glass is half full and silver linings abound.