They are numerous, ever-present, ubiquitous; present at work, parties, and even family gatherings.
If attitude is indeed contagious, they are the Ebola virus of a positive outlook. Bringing their own “gloomy sunshine” wherever they go, they leave behind a trail of mental and emotional destruction wider than a hurricane’s wake. Should we discover the cure to all illnesses tomorrow, they would protest that it put the doctors out of business.
We can tell they’re nearby, even before they open their mouths. Dour expressions firmly etched into grim-faced expressions and unconstrained bitterness dripping from their souls, they pummel, pound, and persist until they reveal the dark cloud behind any silver lining. Even after short encounters with these denizens of dourness, their dark energy can drain the happiness from even the most upbeat individual. They are Eyore to our Tigger, Ying to our Yang, frowns to our smiles; they are (insert ominous music…) the “bearers of badatude.”
Whether it’s due to the state of the world, the change in seasons, or just bad luck, they do seem to have multiplied lately. (Maybe it’s their mating season?) For whatever the reason, it seems more difficult to avoid them than it used to be.
Ever the helper — and in the interest of public service and a better community attitude — I offer a few suggestions on how to deal with complainers.
Rule One: Understand that when a freight train is roaring down the tracks at you, GET OUT OF THE FREAKIN’ WAY! Do not plant yourself firmly, attempting to block its path, expecting to convince it to take the switch. Instead, realize that batatude folks are better about plowing you over and dragging your formerly upbeat demeanor into a negative mood than you will ever be at changing their direction. They are professionals; having honed the dark art to a fine talent, they inflict bad attitude among even the most optimistic individuals. You — on the other hand — pale in experience when it comes to turning it around. It’s not a fair competition; don’t even try. You will lose. Move elsewhere; if not physically, then certainly to the happy place in your head.
Having not been able to circumnavigate Mister Miserable, the next step is to put it in perspective by employing the “Five Year Rule.”
Ask yourself, “Will anybody know or care this tirade five years from now?” I mean, really, even if he won’t stop his waterfall of complaints, you’ll only get more drenched by arguing. Rather, smile, nod your head periodically, throw in a few well-timed emotionally detached, non-descript observations (such as, “Hmmm, there’s a thought…”) and let it all flow past you. Even Class VI rapids eventually become serene streams once they’re past the boulders. It is however, surely a fool’s errand to try and change the current’s direction.
Lastly — and this is urgent — understand that no one makes us feel anything.
Sure, it’s difficult to remember not to explode after Uncle Joel has just dumped 45 minutes of ranting, raging and raving about everything you consider dear into your lap. But — as difficult as it might be — we have a choice as to how we handle it. He made his; now you get to make yours.
For whatever reason, he decided that best way to deal with life is to complain — loudly, often, and to anyone who will listen; but it’s not about you. After all, if you weren’t there, it would be someone else. You do not share his opinions nor is it your job to “fix” his.
After all, if you run his life, you get two and he doesn’t get any. And that’s surely something you’ll both be complaining about.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus, Motivational Weight Loss Speaker and Productivity Experts, is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com and founder of www.21DayHabitChange.com, guaranteed to help you change a habit in just 3 weeks. He is available for coaching and speaking at 707.442.6243, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/ThisTimeIMeanIt.