This is a card in Dave's Virtual Box of Cards.


Created: 2022-11-03
Updated: 2023-01-13

The "you" here is me. This is a Note To Self. But if you are not me, maybe "you" could be you and find this helpful too.

You consider yourself to be a positive person. But you can also be a complainer. You don’t want to be seen as a complainer.

What to do?

How to deal with your emotions

Sometimes everything sucks and you feel like garbage.

Don’t try to fool yourself. If you feel like garbage, accept that you feel like garbage. If you can’t do that, then you can’t get to the part where you figure out why you feel like garbage.

Being sick (cold, flu, Covid, whatever) can make you feel like garbage even when there’s nothing else wrong. Being tired can make you feel like garbage. I’ve come to believe that even just eating the wrong thing at the wrong time can make you feel like garbage. If you can’t figure out a "rational" reason for feeling like garbage, maybe it’s just some pissed off organisms in the complex bioreactor of your digestive system.

How to talk when things suck

It’s totally cool to say, "I don’t know why I feel like garbage today and everything sucks." You can even say it with a chuckle, because it’s kinda funny even if it sucks.

You might try prefacing any negative statements (to others and yourself) with, "I think I’m just upset because…​" or "I know I’m not myself right now because I have a cold, but…​" and then follow it with the negative statement.

I truly believe prefixing many complaints with this disclaimer helps make it clear to yourself and others that the negativity is its own thing, it’s not you and who you are.

I’ve noticed that starting with the disclaimer even changes how I sound when I say it. I sometimes even end up smiling or laughing. It totally distances me from the negativity…​while still letting me have my say and venting it out.

How to deal with someone else’s emotions

Here’s what I believe: We all just want to be heard and understood.

Sometimes a person wants advice and help solving a problem. But they’re usually pretty explicit about it. Otherwise, it’s safe to assume that someone complaining about something just wants to be understood. (Even kids!)

You don’t have to agree with them to be a source of comfort.

Just listening and making it clear that you have listened and understood (and bonus points for asking questions if you don’t understand) is often the best possible thing you could do to help somebody else feel heard and understood.

You may have some good ideas to help solve their problem. That’s great! But make sure they feel you have completely understood them first, or any attempt to help may backfire and get their anger directed at you.