Friday, September 30, 2011


Just what is "complaining," anyway?
I call it "griping," because that's the word my mother used. "Celie Ann, stop your griping and make your bed. It's not going to make itself."

To be fair and also to defend myself, I most often complain when hunger strikes me. Maybe I have low blood sugar or something, but if I'm hungry, don't push me. All my friends know this."Uh-oh, feed her so she'll shut up."

As a general rule, I'm not a complainer...much. Most of the time I do it out of boredom or to make conversation or some other inane reason.

A couple of years ago, my friend gave me a purple bracelet--one of those rubber ones that make a statement--that reads, "A Complaint Free World." The bracelet was to remind the wearer not to complain. If you found yourself grumbling, then you were obligated to switch the bracelet to the other wrist. Well, the bracelet kept me busy with the switching. Several of us wore them for a while, enough for us to realize how much we complained in the course of a day.

I learned that complaining, though, is not all bad. It can actually be a creative act. The more you complain, the more you summon your creative energies to attract something to complain about. Maybe the complaints seem fully justified, but realize that whenever you complain, you set yourself up for more of the same. Just remember the part about "complaining is a creative act", and you might find yourself writing a novel. Hmmm.

Complaining is the act of reinforcing what you don’t want. Is this bad? I think not. Perhaps it's therapeutic.

A warning: Complaining is also addictive. The more you do it, the more it becomes an ingrained habit, making it more difficult to stop.

Some people complain too much about their own lives. This is a trap that gives this person a constant source of something to complain about. "Bad luck follows me; Life is too difficult; Why can't I get a break?" The complainer may tell you their reality is causing their complaints, but it’s more accurate to say their reality is reflecting their complaints.

"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it." ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

Do I complain? Yes, but after analyzing myself, I believe I complain about trivial events that really have nothing to do with me. When I fully realized this, I honestly try to keep my mouth closed and push the ugly thoughts away.

We have a neighbor who refuses to mow his property, so that the tall dead grass is a permanent fixture. I say something about that every time we pass the house. It has nothing to do with my life, it just annoys me. So, why do I persist in complaining about it? The time has come for me to ignore it.

Bad parkers really make me complain. You who know me understand I sort of go ballistic over a vehicle parked diagonally in a straight-in space, a driver in front of me who sits at a green light because he/she is on the phone or texting, or someone who throws litter out a car window. I really don't think I can stop complaining about these....sorry.

I wonder if any of my characters complain? Only one comes to mind...Cynthia Harrington, the heroine in my very first book, All My Hopes and Dreams, the socialite who decides to run away from her banker father because he has arranged a marriage for her.
If I’d known running away would be this hot and this dirty, she fumed, I’d have stayed home. With her dainty lace handkerchief, Cynthia Harrington dabbed the perspiration from her upper lip. She sighed heavily for the one-hundredth time today and impatiently brushed the dust from the skirt of her best lavender day dress.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


  1. Celia, you post reminded me of my mom. She was a wonderful mother, but a champion complainer. My dad used to tease her that if it were raining money, she'd complain about the small change. And she would! I don't think she ever understood what he meant. For instance, once I received a raise in pay. She said, "Too bad it couldn't have been more." I swear she would have said the same thing if I'd won the lottery. LOL Fun post, though.

  2. Hi Celia, your bracelet is a cute way to cope. Like you I grew up in a family where complaining was not acceptable. For years, I never complained about problems at work or frictions with in laws or friends. I got used to people complaining to me. Results: an infected bleeding ulcer that I'm still dealing with, compulsive nervous eating, and a few others. Now I tell myself it's ok to complain and seek support.

  3. Hi Celia, what an entertaining blog. I'm so glad I took the time to read it. I'm a complainer but I hope a good-natured one. I think complaining is cathartic as opposed to internalizing your negative feelings and getting an ulcer (as Mona mentioned) I, too, find little things annoy me and I usually verbalize them. And often times my husband will tell me that he heard me the first time and there is no need to keep repeating it. Ah, but there is. It drains the negative feelings once again.

  4. Celia,

    I complain about the same things you do. And about that neighbor who doesn't mow his yard...are you sure we don't have the same neighbor? Tennessee may be closer to Texas than I realized. LOL.

    When I catch myself "over-complaining, I quote the Bible verse: "Things that are lovely, things that are just, things that are pure... think on these things."

    Arrrgh! It's tough, isn't it?

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  6. Hi Celia,
    What an interesting topic and engaging post. I think there's a lot to be said about complaining, and as you say, it can be very therapeutic. It's a lot better than bunching it all up inside! And sometimes, I have to just tell myself..."Let it go..." - or better yet, "Let go, let God." Oh really, though - that excerpt? I am hooked. Can't wait to read "All My Hopes and Dreams"!!!

  7. I think (hope!) I complain when it's justified - as when someone parks so close to me that I can't open my car door, or when some idiot cuts right in front of me on the motorway or when service in a restaurant or pub is unnecessarily slow. I used to complain a lot more than I do now so maybe I've mellowed with age! Now I try to 'live and let live' - but it doesn't always work like that!

  8. Caroline--I understand your mother. She, too, complained about things she shouldn't have. Overall, she was a hardworker and did not complain about that--it was usually one of us or Daddy. Like you mom saying that to your dad...that was sort of typical of mine, too.
    I often heard, when I or my sister complained about something, daddy would say "you'd gripe if you were going to be hung with a new rope."
    Hahaha, Daddy!
    Thanks for the reminders...Celia

  9. Mona--I think you took that to the extreme. Although, I too, internalized everything at work when I was younger, something happened to me when I hit 40. I turned into a major griper if things weren't right at the school where I taught. I had no qualms about marching into the principal's or the VP for Academic Affairs, to voice my displeasure.
    But I had a way of being tactful and reasonable, so usually got my way. Celia

  10. Linda--ah, yes, there are the loves of our lives, setting us straight. I like the term "good-natured complaining." And yes, it quiet cathartic to voice some displeasure. Celia

  11. LAUREAN--I actually found Bible verses when I researched complaining...there is more advice in the Bibly on the topic than you would think!
    Some days, I begin sayiing...I'm not going to complain or be negative all day. Ha! That doesn't last long, but since I began the day with the thought of doing better, I usually do.Thanks--oh, and yes--we do have the same neighbor! Celia

  12. Hi, Gina--yes, as I said to Laurean, you'd be surprised at how many Bibles verses there are about complaining. I'm glad you like the short excerp--I won a little contest with that first line one time. Thanks for the Bible verse--it's an all-time favorite of mine. Celia

  13. PAULA--I's very difficult to stay happy and positive when someone parks crooked or too close and you cannot get in your car. But like you, I think I've mellowed with age...or just got tired doing so much complaining! It's much more fun to be me...Celia

  14. I so agree with this post, Celia! I was a cronic complainer until I asked myself, "Is this really that important?" and more often than not, it wasn't.

  15. In my career working in the ER there was an atmosphere of negativity and constant complaining. I felt sucked up in it like the event horizon--about to be swallowed into the great black hole. I hated that dark energy.
    When something weighs on my mind I do express it to my friend and confidant just so I can ditch it.
    I do think though that, as a character trait, complaining is good. It can show the changes in that character or the deep seated feelings she or he contends with. It can also make the reader dislike that character believing the character to be a whiner.
    Great thought provoking blog, Celia.

  16. I love a good complaint, and I'd wear myself out switching that bracelet from side to side. Thank goodness I don't have one of those!

    I'm of the mindset that if you have something to gripe about then you need to fix it, sort of the same way we do constructive critiques. Trouble is, not everyone wants my advice - go figure!

    Like you, I eventually realize that sometimes its better to say nothing... Maggie

  17. Hi Celia,some complaining is good at times. However, if I am around too much of it it gets me down. And you are right, complaining can become a habit, lol.

  18. Have you ever tried to go 24 hours without complaining? It's hard! But well worth the effort...

    Just the first step in a long journey toward making "not complaining" the habit, until a complaint just feels wrong anymore.

    I'm all for seeking support, but complaining...that, I'd rather do without in my life