Self-questions to aid in discerning Complaints

I have a clear definition in my mind for the concept, when I use the werd complaint.
Oh! Maybe this is another good time for some self-questions!
Questions that I ask myself, in order to assess whether or not a thing I have said, or would like to say- is a complaint, include:
“What purpose do I hope to achieve, in the saying?”
Frequently, complaints – from myself and others – seem to be intended to ‘teach a lesson.’ Show someone the error of their ways.
But far too often- we speak what is already known, to some or to all. Where, then, is the utility?
Even if I am saying something I believe to be unknown to the recipient of our complaint, and am, in fact, teaching- I then ask myself:
“Am I suggesting to them an actionable alternative?”
Constructive criticism is only constructive, I feel like- if it includes advice for an alternate path.What use telling someone a thing is wrong, if I do not have a better idea to take its place?
This only serves to increase the stress of the recipient, I believe.
In cases where I am speaking with someone other than the source of my frustration or anger, then I ask myself, again:
“What purpose am I intending to achieve, in communicating this thing to this person?”
If it’s to ask for advice- well, depending on how it’s phrased, that is not a complaint, as I define the word.
A complaint, as I hold the concept in my mind- is when I am seeking no utility beyond a lessening of my frustration, from the person I am speaking with.
Sometimes, I am capable of nothing more.
But I am finding the ability in me, now- to reduce my negativity, myself.
I no longer need anyone else, for this. And when I ask it of another- simply by voicing my complaints to them… This is a burden.
It may be a very mild one, but I’m pretty sure we’ve all had those days- those days where we are hanging on by such a thread that all it takes is one more complaint, and we snap.
This tells me that it has an effect. It’s just mild enough that we do not notice the energy it takes to shoulder a bit of someone else’s weight by listening to the problems they’re having, unless we are so low on energy that we do not have even that little bit to spare.
My brain is tricksy! It does not make it easy for me tell when a thing I want to say, is a complaint- for my brain always tells me it is something else.
These self-questions I’ve been talking about- they are ways I’ve been experimenting with to get around my own TBF- my own brain’s tendency to mask my own true motivations from myself. Maybe an even better question to ask, than “what do I hope to achieve?” is:
“What do I think is going to be the most likely result- realistically?”
For these are often two very different things.
It’s like the driving thing I talked about in the one on forgiveness. So frequently, so many of us tend to drive aggressively (even if it’s to drive really slowly in front of someone who cannot get past us easily- passive aggressiveness is still aggressiveness!) when other drivers make us angry. Yet does this ever actually cause anyone to change how they drive, to become more responsible in their driving?
And so, with Facebook right now, and most of what I’ve seen on televised news, on all sides of the political divides- So much finger pointing, so much blame. But where are the actionable alternatives? What value in telling us that things are Wrong, that people have done Bad Things?


I believe that we have to start with ourselves, first- at least, that’s what I had to do.
When I began focusing on what I could do better, instead of what everyone else was doing wrong- I found that my attention quickly became so filled with all the areas I need improvement on, that I had little time for blame.
And now? Now, I am not perfect, in the way that word is usually defined- I am not flawless, by any stretch of the imagination.
But now I have the strength and the knowledge to deal with my negativity, on my own.
To keep it my own burden, instead of burdening others with it.
(Generally speaking! This is a New Thing for me!)
But now I’ve been doing that for long enough, that I am beginning to find the kind of strength, the kind of energy- that is necessary to take in the complaints of others, help reduce their negativity, their suffering- without crumbling under that weight.
Without snapping (at least not as often as I used to!), in whatever form that breaking takes.
So, The Project- this is part of how I’m channeling my feelings, when what I really want to do, is complain.
I am endeavoring, now- to turn my thoughts about things into actionable alternatives to the things I see as the problems in our society, from which all such symptoms as divisiveness, anger, greed, and suffering, stem.


I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

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