Complaining? Not I

Image          Because I went to high school in Boston I lived with my grandmother during the week. She was kind but stern. While I don’t remember why I was upset, I have a strong memory of the following incident: One afternoon after school I stood in front of her, tears running down my face. I was hoping for sympathy. Instead, she looked at me stonily and said, “You are unhappy? Just keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.” Unbeknownst to me then she was teaching me something important. However I didn’t recognize this for some time to come.

          At the time I resented her attitude. She seemed mean and unkind. She came from the “chin up, bite the bullet” school of thought. She had been taught it was inappropriate to express one’s emotions and thought to help me learn the same discipline. It took me a long time to grow through this attitude in myself and learn the truth behind this way of thinking. Yes it is important to express my emotions, yet it is not a good idea to dwell on them.

          Fast forward to many years later. I was in my kitchen in Virginia. The stove didn’t cook anything the way I wanted it to. The oven had entirely

Complaining seems to make things worse. When I try to be positive about a situation, it appears to improve. For me, focusing on the negative is a slippery slope. However, although it is not easy to reverse the downward trend I have discovered it can be done.

          I began working with the situation I had rather than trying to change anything. I praised the stove I had insofar as I was able. I also called the landlord and asked him to replace the stove, which reluctantly he did. Did my stoves improve? Yes indeed they did. The next and subsequent stoves have all been an improvement on the one that helped me learn my lesson.

          I stopped complaining and began looking on the bright side. I have not always remembered this lesson yet when I do, I am well rewarded. ceased to work, and I felt very frustrated. “Why is this happening to me!” I cried. This is the third stove that has given me grief. A little light went on in my head. I had complained endlessly about my difficulties with the other two stoves. This one had been difficult from the beginning. Was there a connection?

          I may not immediately recognize when a unconscious negative attitude leads me in a downward direction. I need to keep an eye on my mind. However bringing up five children gave me the habit of listening to make sure everything was well. Now I listen to myself. Although it is healthy to complain, to gnaw on the bone of discontent may make things worse. While I may not be able to change a situation, I can learn to see it differently, become more flexible, or depending on the situation find compassion in my heart.

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