Friday, September 16, 2011

Gratitude and complaining

A few posts I've read recently got me thinking. . . . can someone be grateful and yet still complain?  One oft-suggested strategy for complaining less is to shift focus to gratitude.  But I think one can be truly grateful for something and still feel annoyed or challenged by it.

One example:  I have a good job that I am lucky to have, especially in the current economic climate.  Many people would be happy to have my job.  I'm happy to have it, too, but I still complain from time to time about certain aspects of it (annoying opposing counsel, difficult clients, capricious partner/supervisors, to name a few).  Does that mean I am not grateful for my job?

Another:  we have a dog we love.  MM regularly picks up his poo in the back yard and takes him for a nightly walk, but occasionally he complains about doing these things.  Doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate our dog; he does.  It's just not fun to pick up poo, or to go for a walk in the neighborhood when it's 100+ outside after dark.

Even things in life that are great in the main have aspects that are hard.  Pregnancy is a good example.  I am thrilled to "finally" be pregnant with twins, but that doesn't mean that it has been, or will be, easy.  I try to confine the majority of my complaining to MM (who, let's face it, should be willing to listen at a minimum), but I am sure that some of the thoughts I've posted on here about my nausea, heartburn and fatigue may have come across as complaints.

I don't think that complaining means someone is not grateful.  I think it is usually an acknowledgement of the hard aspects of whatever she's experiencing.  But I come from a family of kvetchers, so maybe I'm wrong.

What do you think?  Are complaints and gratitude incompatible?

13 comments:

  1. I have thought about this before too. I complain about my little guy crying for 8 hours a day, but I am beyond grateful for him. I'm not dissatisfied or annoyed with my little one, but more wishing that I could do something to change the situation. Same with IVF, I complained about going through it and the hurt butI am so very grateful. So yes, I do agree, just because someone complains doesn't mean they aren't grateful for what they are complaining about.

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  2. To think that everyone should be happy about everything all of the time is a little dangerous. When someone complains that their legs hurt after all of that walking, only to be shut down with "Well, at least you can walk!" completely diminishes/dismisses the real pain felt in that person's legs right now.

    To try to stay only upbeat is nearly impossible. However, I think it is admirable, as you do, to let the good outweigh the bad.

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  3. I agree with you 100%! They are absolutely compatible and gratitude does not negate irritation any more than irritation would negate gratitude. Just as seeing someone else's loss does not negate your own happiness in the community we are so closely intertwined with at this point. We are humans; capable of very complex emotions.

    And, for what it's worth, I don't think mentioning not enjoying morning sickness, fatigue, or random pains is necessarily complaining about them either. But maybe that's just me.

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  4. Its a tricky subject... I guess alot of the time it just matters whom you are complaining to and of course what caveats you add. Such as telling an infertile you're nautious and then saying, its fabulous! I tend to have a pretty self depricating sense of humor and so I worry that sometimes I come off as a complainer when really I'm joking about things I'm thankful for... so I guess my answer is I dont know! I do know that I complain endlessly about my job but I am very thankful to have it.

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  5. I agree in theory. Complaining should not mean that someone is ungrateful. But, having attended infertility support groups for two and a half years, I know that many of my IF friends who are still in the trenches perceive complaints as a lack of gratitude. I remember listening to a couple of my formerly infertile friends complain about their pregnancy symptoms when I was going through failed IVF after failed IVF, and even though I felt badly that they had to go through morning sickness, etc., I was still irritated about the complaining. To me (given where I was at emotionally at that time), they seemed ungrateful. Being on the other side now, I have a totally different perspective. But I would hate to seem ungrateful to all of my fertility friends who are sitting where I used to be.

    I guess my point is, I know that when I complain I am not ungrateful. But I still feel guilty for seeming ungrateful and, in the presence of certain audiences, I think it does translate into a lack of gratitude. I should add that I read your blog regularly, and I have never felt that anything you said was "complaining." I think reporting symptoms is different from complaining about them.

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  6. @Princess: I think your point about your audience is well taken. For example, I know starting a new workout regimen or running a marathon would make my legs sore, but I probably wouldn't complain about that to a friend who was in a wheelchair or had an amputation. Complaining to that person would just highlight what she didn't have, in the same way that complaining about pregnancy symptoms to an infertile friend likelyw ould not be well received.

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  7. You are free to write and vent ....this is your space to do so.....but I personally would not complain here about pregnancy related symptoms......I see it as ungrateful.....just my opinion.

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  8. I agree, I don't think complaining means you are ungrateful, but it can be hard in this community to hear it. I do and honestly have been meaning to post about this for a long time, really appreciate your sensitivity. I have been reading your blog for a long time and I really respect your preface warnings. For some reason you come across to me as so sensitive, sincere and thoughtful (not to say that others don't) but I really appreciate your compassion.
    A blog should be a place to complain, it is your own but the longer you stick around the harder it can be to right exclusively for ones self. I do t think your delivery would make one brisstle but I have read blogs that have done so. What is most difficult for me are the bloggers who seem to forget IF quickly and spout sunshine and rainbows. Different strokes, I guess.

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  9. I think you raise a good point and that it can come off as ungrateful. I think it helps to acknowledge what is going on and call yourself out on the gratitude issue. I would also imagine that complaining to other pregnant women may be easier since they know where you are coming from very well :)
    Hoping you start to feel better soon

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  10. I think that gratitude and complaining can co-exist. They definitely do not cancel each other out. I think it is when the primary focus becomes complaining that you have to be careful. If all a person does is complain then it can make them hard to be around. I have not found that you complain that much at all, so I'm not talking about you.

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  11. Hell no. For us especially. We build up fairy tale pregnancies but it is some hard ass work.

    That being said, holy crap does a newborn kick your ass too.

    Love it anyhow!

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  12. Pregnancy is hard! I can't imagine how much harder it is with twins. And this is your space to talk about how you feel! Absolutely, we all are grateful and frustrated about many aspects of life. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for using your blog for YOU!

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  13. Throughout these experiences (IVF, 2WW, BFN, BFP, PG, morning sickness) it is perfectly normal for both the good and bad to co-exist. You can hate feeling nauseated at the same time as being 100% grateful at being pregnant. Both at the same time.

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