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Stop Whining
Mom with a View

Stop Whining

And start living.

by

I haven't read Dr. Laura Schlessinger's new book "Stop Whining and Start Living" but the title seems pretty explicit, and I have to agree with the theme. I think it's a very Jewish idea although I also like to believe we would have expressed it a little more gently...

There are (at least) two problems with being a whiner. One is that you never grow. Instead of taking responsibility for your life, you blame others. Your character deficits are due to your childhood experiences? Okay, but how old are you now? At what point do you think it's time to move on?

I once heard a very critical father excuse himself to his sons, "My father was very critical of me." Wasn't there another way to go with that? Especially after seeing and experiencing how destructive that criticism was?

Don't let your childhood be an excuse for your bad behaviors and negative traits.

I'm not saying that it's easy or even always possible to escape the influence of childhood trauma. But we need to try. We can't let it be an excuse for our bad behaviors and negative traits.

The Almighty has imbued us with the ability to change. We are great believers in the power of our free will. We can overcome obstacles and grow deeper and stronger. If we really want to. And we really try.

And even where we can't seem to overcome the damage, where certain emotional responses are too deeply ingrained to be reversed, we can at least be aware of the true source of our behavior. And not let it cloud or distort our thoughts, actions or words.

Our inherent ability to change is taught early in the Torah, in a story that is also about taking responsibility for our actions. It's the famous tale of Cain and Abel. Abel brings an offering from the first of his flocks. Cain is less discriminating in his choice. Any offering will do. He demonstrates less gratitude, less appreciation. And his offering is rejected.

Needless to say, Cain is not pleased with this turn of events. So the Almighty says to him, "Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it."

Cain truly had no one to blame but himself - although he managed to turn on his brother instead. It's an old story.

Being an adult means the choices are ours to make. And the consequences ours to accept.

However we may have suffered at the hands of others, continuing to blame them for our poor choices only aggravates the wounds and exacerbates the harm.

Whiners are always focused on the negative.

The second problem with being a whiner (I'm sure when I read the book I'll discover many more) is that you can never enjoy life. Whiners are always focused on the negative.

Maybe there were some people that weren't nice to you. Why is all your energy directed towards them instead of at the ones who were?

Maybe not everything has worked out the way you would have liked. But what about the things that have?

If we persist in whining and concentrating on the negative, on not motivating ourselves to grow and change, some of our gloomy expectations will indeed come true. We will drive away everyone who cares about us through our unpleasant behavior and attitude. Then we will really have something to whine about.

Published: May 11, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) feiga, May 25, 2008 4:11 AM

Too true!

Attitude is what makes outcome up to you-once you are an adult and admit to it!!
My friend once said, don''t cry like a baby over what you did as an adult!! True, we may be victims of certain circumstances, but once we decide to uproot those negetive parts from within, there''s much pleasant surprises that can be poppin'' out. And don''t hesitate to ask for help if you need to. Rather get the help to get out of your whining, then keep on whining and not even be helped by it. Just keep on coming to this site, and with much willpower, G-D will help good happen!!

(6) chana Sharfstein, May 16, 2008 2:10 PM

Pessach 2008 could have been an unhappy Yom Tov

Last November we planned our Israel visit for Pessach. On April 16 we checked in with our luggage and went through security and waited at gate. Then to our unbelievable disappointment my husband was not allowed to board. His passport was valid till October ''08 but that was insufficient as SIX months is required. It was nervewracking. We returned home-minus the luggage which couln''t be found. We were told it should have been removed from plane but according to computer, it had been shipped to Israel.The next day my husband and home attendant with me in charge went to the passport agency. That took almost the entire day- until four o''clock. In the meantime the luggage could not be found. I spent four hours at Kennedy attempting to locate the luggage. It had been misplaced and wasn''t found until six o''clock, just about time to board for that nigh''s flight. I decided not to go as I was completely exhausted from the experiences. However we had a WONDERFUL Pessach right here in our home. My dear niece, Raizel Edelman, hearing all our news, immediately invited us for the sedorim and any and all meals during Pessach. My niece Cyrel Deitsch sent her housekeeper and with a self-cleaning oven and quick planning and purposeful activities our home was made Pessachdik. With great relatives and a positive approach we had a happy Pessach. We were thankful to Hashem that everyone was in good health. There is always tomorrow for another visit to our beloved Israel. Looking ahead and accepting a problematic situation with hope and courage we were thus able to enjoy our holiday of freedom.

(5) Yaron Salmen, May 16, 2008 6:15 AM

So true.

I showed this article to my friend''s nana, who is always on about thing after thing, she kinda could agree with it and entrusted to us that she actually wasnt so bad off.
This, coming from her, is like G*d coming down to Earth, haha, my friend was astonished and kinda angry at his Nan. Usually he was always the object of her nagging , if not the subject.
We tend to accept it when elders are whining and actually we should also remind them of the fact that everything has different ways of handling it, of looking at it.
"Smile and the world smiles with you" is cheesy, but so true, just like this article.
Whining can also be an indicator that someone is very depressed and in need of support, so never dismiss a person''s whining, you could give a helping hand, or be a support in desperate times.

(4) raye, May 15, 2008 12:38 AM

Right On!!!

While it may be a relief to get something off your chest,take note as to whose chest you load it on to. (#101 - How to lose friends and make enemies.) Which famous person said "First count to 10 or maybe to 100 if necessary before you lose your temper." (or something like that)

(3) Anonymous, May 14, 2008 11:34 AM

My Story

I grew up in an abusive home and it was very hard to wean myself from the same bad behaviors that were modeled to me. It took a few years and sometimes slipping back but I did change so I don''t agree that behaviors are too deeply ingrained. If one truly despises their despicable behavior they will change. The problem is with people who think that because they are the parents they have rights over their children when really their job is to raise their children. People like that never question their behavior and certainly don''t ask any one''s opinion regarding child raising and discipline. If one stops long enough to leave the room when they''re about to lose their cool they will see that there is always another option. This doesn''t mean that I don''t give the occasional smack when I feel my children really really deserve it (which happens maybe once every two months)but it doesn''t leave a mark, it doesn''t come without several warnings, it doesn''t come accompanied by my anger, which is necessary as I am still the authority figure and children are commanded to respect their parents but I balance my disciplining with lots of hugs and kisses. Of all my many nieces and nephews (their parents are either borderline abusive or not disciplining at all because of our upbringing) everyone constantly remarks at how good natured, respectful, and what good character my children have so I guess I must be doing something right.

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