There are things that you can only understand with a certain experience and age. One of those is letting go of toxic friendships and relationships. Letting go and clearing space for more positive and understanding people to come into your life. For friends who don’t limit each other and don’t judge everything uniquely from his/her point of view.
And while there are many signs and character traits that you should try to avoid, I want to share the one that’s the most unbearable for me. Complaining. I find that complaining is the worst form of negativity there is.
We have all probably come across people who complain constantly. Maybe they were not your best friends, but coworkers, or a boss, or friend of a friend, but I’m sure you know what I mean. I’m not talking about people who hit a rough patch at the certain point of their lives, I’m talking about those who’s lives always seem less fortunate, less satisfying, less happy than others. And yet, when you look at these people from outside, you might realize that they are doing not only same as others, but often better.
Why? Complaining is the best way of literally “sucking” good energy out of others. Our natural response is to sympathize, to support, to try to help and the worst to “live through” the situation with them. When a friend complains about being treated unfairly at work and being fired, we feel angry and outrageous how unjust is the situation. We offer moral support, we say that things will get better, we offer to help and look for offers, etc. Well and that is completely normal, human and friendly. But what happens if you’ve known somebody like this for many years and same situation happens to them at every job/relationship/friendships, and yet they always find a way to justify their failure by the faults of others. You hear stories about bad friends that constantly betray them, husbands who don’t pay attention to their needs and coworkers undermining their abilities. And you get dragged along, you waste your energy on listening, believing their stories and giving practical advice that they will never take because (however horrible this may sound) they like the UnhappySelfish life.
I’ve met this young woman last year, whose life seemed to be pretty much in order (comparing to common-sense general standards). She was a friend of a friend and I was bound to spend some time with her due to circumstances. And you know what? All I’ve heard from her was complaining. About life. About married life. About not being able to buy the most expensive dress and settling for the average one. About the horror of being a stay-at-home mom. Then, couple of months later we met again for dinner with her and other friends and guess what? More and more complaining. Same thing happened third time I saw her. I guess that qualifies for a pattern. I felt completely drained after our “talks”, in need of a cold-cold shower and a trip somewhere far away.
One other young woman was my coworker and she was not only complaining she was consuming people around her with her daily problems. Complaining about always not having enough money for fancy clothes and yet buying a new car. Complaining about working extremely hard and yet leaving the office once the clock struck 6 pm. Complaining about morning traffic yet living 15 min away from work, while most of us took two public transports to get to work. And you know what? Most of the people did sympathize her and helped her do her job (you know, to lift the “burden” of a difficult life for her) while she was flirting with the guy from sales department in the cafeteria. I couldn’t avoid her, so with time, I’ve learned to just tune her out and do my job.
These UnhappySelfish people don’t like to talk about anything but themselves most of the time, so one day when you need support and you need some of their positive energy, you make the deadliest mistake of calling them self-centered and not really listening to you and you quickly fall into the abovementioned category of “bad friends”. This may also be the time when you will be reminded of everything they have ever done for you and that you don’t know how to be a real friend.
The withdrawal can be hard. So for this not to happen in the future, I’d like to offer you my little advice (and no, I’m not offering you to cut all of the people off) but try not to attach yourself to such people too much. Try not to pour your heart and your deepest concerns to them. If you feel negative, drained and miserable after your meetings, don’t ignore your intuition. Try to withdraw yourself slowly and if you have to see this person anyway then just try to keep some distance.
And lastly, don’t waste your energy, ideas and positivity on someone who will never appreciate it. There are so many beautiful things in life to do with your time :)