Upham's Corner Online

Getting Help in a Complaint Free World

Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2010
Nancy J Conrad

We don't have to be down and out to need a little help - a little advice.  "Getting help" is not on our minds. Too often we think we need to solve all our own problems and answer all our own questions.  The longer we remain in this state on what to do or where to turn, the more we begin to vent our frustration by complaining.  

Complaining is the act of expressing dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief.  Complaining is full of confusing and drawn out emotion but is based on a factual situation that needs resolution.  In other words we complain because we're looking for help. Getting help is a recognition of the need to reach out to a support network.

Have you ever gone to the bank and complained about the milk you bought?  Not likely yet we turn to our friends and complain about our job, how the car wasn't repaired right, how no one listens to us and on and on.  Situations that create frustration and anxiety lead us to look for comfort from others and that's why we complain.

Too often we use complaining as a way of finding fault with others.  If the discomfort lasts long enough, it's easy to move from the mold of trying to solve our frustrating problems to simply wallowing in self-pity while we blame anyone and everyone around us. What could be so simple - getting help - has turned complex and ugly.
"A Complaint Free World" was started by Will Bowen, Lead Minister of One Community Spiritual Center in Kansas City, MO. In July 2006 he suggested his congregation use purple bracelets to monitor their success at eradicating complaining from their lives.

His idea exploded around the world and more than 6 million purple Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in over 106 countries.

Complaint Free does not espouse ignoring the "complaints" in our lives.  Rather they ask us to recognize the ineffectiveness of directing our complaining at someone who can't help.  More than that, misdirected complaining degrades the quality of life.  

Instead we look to convert our complaints into problem statements which make it pretty clear how to go about solving the problems.  
"The buses are never on time."

This statement is unlikely to be true - at least not here in Boston.  More than that, it is irrelevant.

Something else underlies our complaint and we're probably ignoring it. 
  • Are we arriving at work late?  
  • Are we frustrated arriving at the bus stop as the bus pulls away?  
  • Do we somehow feel helpless and unable to emerge from a world where "the buses are always late"?
Easier to look around and blame someone else than figure out how to solve our problems.
There is a reason for Complaint Free World's incredible growth in popularity.  Complaint Free provides a simple way to break the cycle of complaining and convert it into one of problem solving.  

When you break free of the complaining, your world transforms.  You realize there is help available at every turn.  Finding new ways of dealing more effectively with the world is then so exciting.  

As life continues to change and evolve, we face new situations - new problems - and we look for new solutions.  Websites, books and call centers that didn't exist last year are popping up all the time - ready to give us a hand. 

Upham's Corner News will be embarking on a new series - "Getting Help."  The goal is to identify resources that we can all benefit from.

Can you help?

Do you know where to go to get help in solving certain kinds of problems?  Can you frame that into a question?  Have you found "a better way to build a mousetrap?"  Would you like to share your knowledge with everyone?  

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