I’m doing some coaching with a woman, I’ll call her Jenny, who hates her job. She’s sick of fixing other people’s problems all day, and as a result she feels pretty damn ragey a lot of the time. We’re working on getting her into another field of work entirely, but in the meantime she’s spending her evenings bitching about her job to friends and family and anyone else who will listen.
“How’s that working for you?” I asked. “How’s the bitching making you feel?”
“It feels shitty”, she said. “Whenever I bitch about work I feel like I’m right back in the middle of it. I get angry again. And then even when I’m not at work I feel like I’m at work because I’m thinking about it. I can’t win.”
“Have you considered not bitching about your job every night?”
This had not occurred to her. So I assigned her some homework: bitching alternatives. She would brainstorm and experiment with some different ways to spend her evenings, because she knew that if she was just sitting around doing nothing the urge to bitch would win.
I get a lot of referrals from people’s spouses. Often because they JUST. CAN’T. HANDLE. the incessant bitching anymore. Sometimes people will bitch for years before they actually do anything about the job they hate. That gets mighty heavy for friends and family. (If nobody returns your calls anymore maybe now you know why.)
And constant bitching doesn’t actually feel good to do, either. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a situation like Jenny before – when you bitched about something too much for too long…and it actually felt kinda shitty. Maybe you’re stuck in bitch mode right now.
But I gotta blow off some steam!, you might say. What am I supposed to do, just fake it and pretend I’m happy?!
No. Faking it isn’t going to solve the problem. But you know what else isn’t going to solve the problem? Bitching about it.
Not only does constant bitching feel bad (for everyone involved, trust me), but it also doesn’t work. It doesn’t actually do anything to improve the situation. At all. Because you’ve gone and spent all the energy you could have spent on actually fixing the problem whining about it.
This is crazy! Why do we do this?!
I’ll tell you why: Bitching is easier. It requires no risk. Or action. And it often even elicits some sympathy (that is, until you find you never get invited to the cottage on weekends anymore). You get some loving attention for doing absolutely nothing while being a total pain in the ass to the people who care about you.
Don’t be that guy.
May I kindly suggest an alternative? Instead of talking about the thing that’s driving you nuts (your job, for instance), try doing something about it. Ask for better work projects. Go home on time. Get your resume together. Take a course. Hire a coach. Do some networking. Make a business plan. Start a job search. And ask for help where you need it. Cuz saying you can’t and you don’t know how is just…you guessed it…more bitching.
You are responsible for your own life. Which means that if you want something different you’ll have to actually do it and not just bitch about it.