Chronic complainers don’t really want solutions to their problems. They seem to feel that life handed them lemons and they bask in their victim status. Make lemonade? Have you seen the price of sugar? And where would they find a pitcher? None of their knives are sharp enough to cut all of those lemons, and even if they were, their carpal tunnel/arthritis/chapped skin would make it impossible. Besides, they couldn’t drink lemonade anyway, as it would certainly give them heartburn; or worse yet, diarrhea. The chronic complainer can’t take those lemons and make anything out of them, because if they do then they are left with nothing to complain about.
Chronic complainers don’t KNOW they are chronic complainers. They truly feel that they are victims. Nobody has it worse than they do. If you try to make them see that there are others worse off than they are, they will just rattle off a longer list of woes they have to deal with every day. Clearly you must not have all the information. If you really understood how bad they had it, you wouldn’t try to convince them that there could possibly be someone who has a tougher life.
What can you do when you encounter these people? What if you have to work with them, or worse yet what if they are family? Rule #1 is, do NOT fix their problem. Do NOT try to give them advice, no matter how well intentioned. To do so would only enable them to continue to spin their wheels until someone pulls them out of their latest ditch.
This sounds harsh. It goes against our desire to help people. There really ARE people out there who need our help. There are folks who are overwhelmed, who may have hit bad times, or who just need a hand up. We’ve all been there. There ARE people who have been dealt a horribly bad hand.
Your neighbor just broke his leg. His wife is recovering from surgery. Their yard is full of leaves. You decide to get a few other neighbors to pitch in for an afternoon of raking. You never know when you may be the one who needs help. Then you go to your brother’s house. His yard is also full of leaves. He is sitting on his porch, clearly distressed by the situation.
“I hate these trees”, he says. “Well, they sure are nice in the summertime, when you want shade from the sun,” you reply.
“They keep the breeze from blowing through.”
“Have you considered having at least some of them cut down?”
“Do you know what those tree companies charge?!”
“Why don’t you mulch the leaves with your mower?”
“There are too many for that! It would kill the grass.”
“Guess you’ll have to rake them, then.”
“That should be great for my back! I can’t sleep at night from back pain so as it is.”
“Maybe you need to move to a house with less yard…..”
“In this market I wouldn’t be able to get what the house is worth. Besides, I hate those condos.”
“Well, what about hiring a few neighbor kids to rake it for you?”
“KIDS! Kids don’t want to work these days.”
At the end of the conversation, you are worn out and your brother can’t understand how you could be so selfish. After all, he’s tried everything to solve his problem.