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2) Not complain but rather find solutions. Who wants to hear anyone complain? No one! It just isn’t attractive. Think about it – if you see someone approaching who you know complains all the time, are you likely to go out of your way to talk to him or her? No – you are likely to run and hide, and avoid the whole conversation, if at all possible. Here are two good examples – one is a female friend of mine, the other is a neighbor.
One of my very good female friends is named Amy. She is around six years younger than me, and divorced with one child. Ever since I have known Amy, she has always been one to criticize everything around her. Not so much people – but more the environment and situation at hand. You bring her somewhere … anywhere … and she will tell you how much it sucks there. Amy lives in the expensive part of San Diego … which is a beautiful place. What does she say when asked about San Diego? She will tell you there are no jobs there, and the traffic sucks. Amy used to live around the corner from me in Riverside – and what does she say about Riverside? She’ll tell you that Riverside sucks – that it is a ghetto, and is too hot. If you go anywhere with Amy (out to eat, on vacation, etc.) she will always tell you what is WRONG with the place, and never what is right. She is the single most predictable person I know – because she is so negative. You might wonder – why are you friends with Amy? The answer is that sometimes I enjoy looking at the dark side of things … and Amy is always predictably dark. Plus she is a good person overall – and she’s been my friend for years. I tend to choose my good friends carefully – and even though she is predictably dark in her outlook, she and I share a lot of core opinions about the world (but we describe it differently – she’ll give you a negative take on something, and I’ll give you the positive). For example, Amy will tell you that Riverside is ghetto and too hot – which may be somewhat true … but I would instead say that I enjoy the heat, and that Riverside has crime and poverty just like most every city in Southern California. We are describing the same place – but choose to express it differently. I understand how Amy verbalizes things – others might take what she says more literally, I suppose. Amy does not date a lot – and that is probably because she complains so much … I would imagine that it turns guys off in a hurry.
Here’s another example of someone complaining, and its effect on people. I live in a community that is governed by a homeowner’s association – and I currently enjoy the privilege (or curse?) of being on the board of directors. One of the elderly ladies who lives here (her name is Betty) is what we on the Board call a “constant complainer”. No matter what – whenever one of us talks to Betty, she wants to register at least one complaint. Now think about it – what do any of us do when we see Betty out and about? Obviously we try to hide or walk away so that we do not talk to her! [Yes – she is THAT bad.] I’ve known Betty for years, and I cannot recall off the top of my head any one time that she has not complained to me about something. And these complaints can sometimes be extremely silly. One time, for example, we had new wooden fences installed throughout the common area while Betty was on vacation for several weeks. She cornered me at the community mailbox several weeks after returning from vacation, and told me with outrage that her electricity bill was six dollars more than usual … and that she believed the fence contractor had plugged his saw into her outside electrical outlets to cut the wood! She insisted on knowing what I was going to do about this. I had to smile at the situation at hand – and told her as politely as possible that I didn’t think that the $6 was anything to be concerned about … that (worst-case) the way one could look at it was that you just got a brand-new backyard fence for a total of $6. Betty was very unhappy with my response – but I just couldn’t come up with anything more creative. [My father told me later that I could have told her that she obviously had an electricity leak, and that she should call the electric company … but that would have been way too cruel!]
I have to tell you that recently I gave Betty the chronic complainer a lecture about not complaining all the time. This was at the tail end of last summer – I was in my front yard doing some yard work, and I was not paying attention to other people walking around outside … so I did not see Betty coming. It was very hot this particular late summer afternoon, and I had been outside for hours doing yard work – so I was not in what I would call an ideal problem-solving mood. My name was called out – and I turned around and it was her … Betty was standing in front of me. Before she could say another word – I put my hand up, and said “Stop!” I told her something to the effect of,
“Betty – every single time I have ever spoken to you, you always say some-
thing negative and register a complaint. I need you to tell me something
positive right now. All board members here hide from you because you
never say anything positive – you always complain. Could I please ask
you the favor of at least periodically acknowledging some of the many
good things we have going on around here? Could you please at least
TRY to do it at least once? Now, Betty – how are things?”
Betty was taken aback by this impromptu lecture. She took a moment to gather her thoughts, and then she replied with the complaint that she originally had in mind. I politely listened to her complaint, and then as she walked away, I realized that I had totally wasted my breath by lecturing this woman. At least it was worth a try, I suppose.
What do any of these stories have to do with midlife bachelorhood? Absolutely nothing – they are a more general illustration of how COMPLAINING drives people away from you … because no one wants to listen to a complainer! What do you do if you feel like complaining? Find a solution – or discuss a solution. Solutions are positive, complaints are negative – it is just common sense.
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