Sovereign of My Delight, Hear My Complaining

– Thomas Morley

There’s nothing like a good bi*** session, especially when done in a gossip context. Sometimes I just need to go there and vent a little. I’m not proud of it, but it does serve a purpose besides making me feel better. Jonathan Haidt, author of A Righteous Mind, describes gossip as society’s way for keeping cheaters in line. So I’m basically just doing my civic duty.

But this blog is about behaving responsibly, not about justifying my bad behavior.   I view it like eating dessert. Sometimes it’s necessary (depriving yourself completely actually makes you eat more), so it should be done in a limited fashion and as constructive of a manner as possible. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

  • Keep it brief. Ranting for more than a minute or so is self-indulgent and makes you look worse than the person you’re complaining about.
  • Take ownership of your bad behavior. Confess to stirring up bad mojo, apologize to the listener, and you’ll be less likely to indulge for long.
  • Don’t make it personal. Focus on the behavior, not the person’s character or motivation. You might think they have ill intent or are evil, but you don’t know for sure. Actually, in my experience, most people are well-intentioned.  More likely, they are struggling with how to handle a difficult situation.  Also, when it becomes personal, it becomes harder to forgive that character flaw rather than that mistake.
  • Give him the benefit of the doubt. You’re more likely to receive it in return.
  • Just like you might want to take a walk after having that lovely Godiva, spend a moment thinking about how you might have contributed to the problem. In this manner, maybe a less than ideal situation can be a learning opportunity.
  • If you’re not there to solve the problem, you’re contributing to it.  End the session with what you’re going to do to either manage or improve the situation.

So here’s my gossip for today: I indulged in complaining about someone else yesterday and am having pangs of guilt this morning.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing that a little chocolate can’t cure.

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