Life isn’t easy. Just when you think you’re cruising along Easy Street you find yourself driving along hairpin turns and holding on for dear life. Yep, there are no shortages of problems both in our world and in the world.
If we zoom in, we might see problems in our personal life like at work, in traffic jams, a glitch in our smartphone, with our spouse, or with various unmet expectations.
If we zoom out (and this is what I want to focus on in this blog), we might find problems in politics, in policies, in procedures, in pandemics, in humanitarian issues, and with the fast-growing woke cancel-culture ideology.
Our go-to responses range from eye-rolling, cursing, name-calling, throwing up our arms, walking away, screaming, or jumping on the “cancel this-cancel that” bandwagon to name just a few.
The question we must ask ourselves: Am I complaining or am I actively and intelligently trying to fix the problem?
Sure, there’s definitely a place for seeing a counselor or therapist for our problems and, to be honest, chatting with friends and getting things off our chests can be downright therapeutic, but when it comes to just griping and taking a “the world is falling” approach to problems…well that’s where the troubles lie.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” Maya Angelou
Problem Talk vs. Solution Talk
A short and to-the-point definition of problem talk is any talk that puts the focus on the problem without producing a solution.
Problem talk can sound like this:
- You know what I think (blah blah blah)…
- I would help, but …
- You/they should…
- You never/always…
- It’s ___’s fault…
- This is never going to work…
Solution talk, on the other hand, can sound like this:
- Yes, and we could also try…
- Who can I ask for help to understand this better…
- I’d like more time to think this through..
- What I’m hearing is …
Destructive Whining vs. Constructive Discussion
We can bitch, moan, cry “foul,” and get all woe-is-me-ish or we can put our big girl/guy pants on and do something about it. One response is whiny and destructive and will get us nowhere and the other is bridge-building and constructive. One is like a roundabout that we drive on forever that keeps us going in circles never reaching a destination (solution) and the other one attempts to make the world a better place.
- Intelligently explore what ticks us off. If it’s politics, then contact your congressman and be sure to vote in the elections. If it’s a policy at your work, then contact PR and discuss your differences. If it’s a humanitarian issue, then volunteer your time to make it right. If it’s a societal offense that’s got you in a pickle, then do your research before you shoot-from-the-hip and jump into the canceling Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head, or Hamilton the Musical movement.
- Listen, Hear, and Discuss. Don’t go into a discussion with the goal of making your counterpart agree with you. Instead, listen to the other side of the story, really hear what is being said before you jump in with a retort, and then have a mature and calm discussion.
- Ask questions. It’s true-the only dumb question is the one not asked. None of us are “know-it-alls”. None of us are experts at everything. None of us have all of the answers. This is where questioning for understanding comes into play.
- Think on your own. Stop following the crowd. Stand on your own two feet and form your own intelligent, researched, and well-thought-out opinion.
By all means, let’s find our cause and decide to do something about it, but while we’re at it, let’s stop complaining about the world, our country, and our problems and about “how our life isn’t what we want” (destructive whining) and start finding solutions and making our life and our world the way we want it to be (constructive action). It really is up to us and no one else.
I’m not here to pick a fight with anyone who may embrace the woke movement or have a differing policy or political views from myself. It’s my hope that this blog in no way offended anyone. If it did, I sincerely apologize and I welcome any email or comment from you in reply.
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