The Danger of Complaining: Drama Allies and People As Objects
I spent a lot of years complaining about former president George Bush. The more I complained, the more negative he became in my eyes. All I looked for was evidence to back up my belief that he was a bad president.
Then I had an experience that opened my eyes. I brought my daughter with me to the World Leader’s Conference and one of the speakers was Barbara Pierce Bush, President Bush’s daughter. I had the opportunity to have a private luncheon with one of the speakers and for some reason I chose Barbara. I don’t know why, but something compelled me to spend time with her. Maybe it was her presentation about the amazing work she is doing with her organization, Global Health Corps. Maybe it was the fact that Barbara was young and interesting to my daughter.
I’m so glad I made this choice because lunch with Barbara was a real eye-opening experience. She told touching stories of playing as a child in the White house, showing Sasha and Malea Obama all the secret hiding places, traveling with her dad. She also told about what her father is doing now, his passion for painting, his love of veterans, his devotion to his family. The stories gave me a completely different perspective on the president. It helped me see him as a person rather than an object.
Complaining is really destructive. Most of the time when we complain, we are seeking drama allies. Drama allies are people who will help us justify our positions about ourselves and others. Complaining and recruiting drama allies does nothing more than reinforce our prejudiced perception of people and the world. Here’s a great little article outlining the research on how complaining hurts us.
- Complaining reinforces a negative mind-set so you are more likely to see people and the world as adversarial.
- Complaining puts you on edge, so your body and mind are more stressed and anxious.
- Complaining pre-disposes you to avoid positives or have an open mind to different perspectives that could positively change the way you see people.
Here’s a quick way to test your complaining and drama-ally tendencies:
Review your social media posts over the last month.
- How many of them include complaining about someone or something?
- How many of them are intended to recruit other people to help you justify your position on beliefs?
- How many involve sharing some sort of infographic that outlines why the other political candidate is a looser?
Want to change your outlook?
Here are a few tips:
- Take time each day to focus on what you grateful for, make a mental list of these blessings.
- Learn something new about a person whom you struggle to like.
- Watch a TV channel or read a blog post that challenges your perspectives and beliefs.
- Focus on the positive strengths of your co-workers, children, and spouse.
Copyright 2016, Next Element Consulting, LLC
Learn more about drama allies and adversaries in our latest book, Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability. This book is the foundation for our Leading Out of Drama program, a comprehensive system for building cultures of compassionate accountability.