“Oh, woe is me, T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!”
– Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
You know when you just want to relax, not have to deal and then this one person comes along and just unloads whatever BS they’ve had to put up with at work, vacation, home or whatever?
At almost any other time it would’ve been cool but right now you just want to tell them to shut the hell up. But you’re good people so you just smile, nod and fill the dead air with comments like “yeah, that totally sucks.”
Then you start feeling kind of bad because you feel like you should be there with them and offer some genuine support. But at the same time you don’t want to get caught in the shitstorm that is their experience at that moment.
Should you just put your hand up, ignoring social conventions and say “Talk to the duck. It don’t give a fuck.” or should you grin and bear it?
If you’re young you might have been spared these people but at the same time you might end up spending too much time listening to them.
There are those who simply feed off of that energy and will under no circumstances stop spewing out their grievances.
Why do they do it? My best guess is that it’s a way for them to get attention. It’s become a strategy. Also, can’t you almost see how they’re sucking those awful situations into their lives?
How do you feel after meeting these people? Drained. Sometimes you might ask yourself why you even put up with them.
What can you do? You could try introducing the idea of: “Well, that totally sucks ass. What are you going to do about it?”
This way they’re atleast presented with the opportunity to reflect on what their options are. If they end up saying “There’s nothing I can do. Woe is me, it’s hopeless!” then you might want to step away. Unless, you’re willing to spend more of your time listening to their complaints.
Then there are those who simply haven’t learned how to do something about it. They’re great at finding problems but don’t know which tools to use to sort them out.
So, what do we do about these people?
Again, we can ask them “What are you going to do about it?”
Usually this question sparks a reaction like: “Well, I could try this. Or maybe that?”
These people actually do in some way seem to have a semblance of hope that things perhaps can change.
If you’re supportive of them they’ll usually figure something out. Especially if their first attempts fail and you’re there to help pick them up, they’re going to grow stronger.
All they usually need is the knowledge that even though they’re the ones doing the heavy lifting there’s supportive people around them.
Let’s be clear about one thing. We need these people. Unless they’re there to spot the faults, flaws and kinks then all those overly optimistic people would end up running the joint. And guess what? Things would go to shit.
Not even kidding.
I made the mistake of thinking “If I just surround myself with people who poop rainbows things’ll be dandy!”
Major lapse of judgement. Suffice it to say that as a result I experienced quite a bit of failure that lead me into a depression.
I couldn’t see it at the time but having a bunch of yes-peeps didn’t offer much of a counterpoint and poor decisions were made as a result.
If you’re lucky then you have both of these extremes within you. Most of us don’t, so we need to surround ourselves with the people who can help balance the scales.
The ability to complain and be critical becomes a curse when the bad stuff is all you really see.
But it can also be a tremendous blessing.
You can usually see what others don’t. If you can see a possible solution or way around it then you can actually start making the world a litte bit better.
Do you have any Debbie Downer’s or Bob Bummer’s in your ensemble? Can you think of times when their contributions and insights have been truly valuable?
Let me know in the comments and hit me up on Twitter.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!