I had a chat with a dear friend recently that broke my heart and got my brain all rolling again. Please bear with me; I have an uncontrollable urge to get this out. Let’s call it ‘processing’. While I was speaking with this friend, she was apologizing to me for a) crying while speaking with me, b) being angry & scared about recent terribly trying events, and c) not showing a better attitude about it all.
Holy mixed up universe Batman!
I think, with all the messages of inspirational platitudes that we receive daily, we can get all mixed up between knowing what is living in a state of ‘positivity’ and perhaps what we actually experience seemingly in contrast to that. There seems to be unknown, uneven territory to traverse around what is living in a state of positive thought versus a state of ‘what’s she on’, to beyond Pollyanna delusion or psychosis.
A lot of us who grew up in the era of Oprah-licious life lessons are now reluctant to be seen as anything but always having a positive attitude. Unfortunately this means that very often we’re then hiding feelings and only putting on a happy face. This is fine for the stranger at the grocery store or co-workers, but how many of us are putting that act on for loved ones, or worse, for ourselves?
I’m not talking about people who’ve slapped on Grumpy Cat in place of their face, or those who storm around with that chip on their shoulders, or the sad sacks that revel in the precipitation of their overhead black clouds. These would be the whiners in my personality dictionary.
To my mind, there is a difference between whining and complaints of a sort. I see whining as complaint with inaction. Bad things happen and one sits down, and then stays there. They’ve stopped moving or the movement is simply running from it. No more desire to fix it, deal with it, and/or maybe becoming content with someone else picking up the ball and rolling with it. This is a dead end, more bad things are probably certain to follow. A good friend should try to intervene here.
Back to the less serious activity of complaining. It is when bad things happen and one says WTF? Hey, this feels bad, or this really feels really bad, or it is admitting I am scared, or scared stiff or I am damned mad, I am furious, or I am frustrated out of my mind. There is an honest acknowledgement of feelings raised in response to real experiences. To my mind, if it is acknowledging pain while carrying on, then this kind of complaining is not a bad thing.
I call it earned complaints. Lord knows if I haven’t earned the right to complain about the state of affairs now and then, then what have I earned? The same goes for other people, like the two moms I know who have children sick with deadly diseases, or another one that just learned her new health issue could turn her world completely inside-out overnight. Reasons don’t have to be this dire, to be sure, but it serves the point. It also seems to me that, in general, discontent has been responsible for making a great deal of change for the better in our world.
So, the difference between the complainer and the whiner is that this complainer keeps moving. She doesn’t give up, and she continues to look for ways to ease the burden and lessen the pain. She is looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, but damn it, sometimes that light is barely a spark on the horizon. So she gets to have the crying jags, some bitching sessions, or just a plain ill-tempered day because she is weakened, but still moving, and that is called coping.
Coping means managing to get through the days even though all is not right. All coping needs in support is a good ear, a hug, sometimes a lot of patience, and if you can manage it, maybe taking over a casserole. Actually, whatever you can do to help is good, (I like martinis- Bond style), but you get my drift. The good news about coping is that it means that she will get past this misery, not by pretending it’s not happening, (that’s that psychosis thing), but because she is walking right through it.
Acknowledging your reaction to an event is what we call processing. Processing isn’t what happens before you get better; it’s what happens to make you better. It takes processing to return to honest positivity, to get back to a true state of grace – that place where you can again be grateful for all that you do have.
Some people are faster processors than others and can do this in only moments. They are the examples we like to imagine we are, and/or that we hope to one day be, but don’t forget that takes some practise. Please do not beat yourself up because you are not there yet. Either way is fine, which is what I want to tell my friend(s). Please be gentle with yourself and you will be gentler with those around you sooner than later.
Regardless of how much time is taken, this is the action that demonstrates how I define what strength of character is. It’s not that you act like whatever happened hasn’t affected you in any great way; it’s that it has, and you have got back up and are moving again anyway. Sometimes yes, it takes only one sunny moment to do it; sometimes it may take one hundred sunny days – whatever it takes to honestly & genuinely get you back is OK.
It’s the same premise along the line of, it’s not that you don’t make mistakes; it’s how you handle them that counts.
So, what I also want to say here to my friend(s) is go ahead – complain, cope, process. I will, we all will, see you on the other side soon. I promise.
…”The principles are the same with national healing as with personal healing: darkness has to come up in order to be released. It must be consciously acknowledged and surrendered, or else it cannot be removed” …Marianne Williamson
Robyn Lawson c/r 708 March 9, 2013