...Or How to Become One
Hi, my name is Gisele... and I’m a functional whiner.
What’s a functional whiner, you may ask? It’s someone who uses whining as a tool for venting, but still manages to roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done.
Some people are brought up to believe that they should be strong, they should toughen up, and they shouldn’t complain about stuff. Those with that kind of upbringing end up by internalizing their feelings and emotions, and often blow up in anger or get sick a lot.
On the other end of the spectrum, others grow up being enabled to whine about everything and everyone, and regard themselves as constant victims. They can’t seem to complete anything they start or achieve much in life.
Ideally, we should work towards finding a balance between practicing resilience when faced with life’s challenges and allowing ourselves to express what we feel during our weak moments. That includes being able to whine a bit.
Whining can help unclutter the brain and clear the space for imagination and innovation, including finding creative solutions for life’s problems.
One of my main mottos is: “It ain’t worth doing if you can’t whine about it.” However, I live by important whining rules that help create that balance between safely expressing myself and still being able to achieve my goals. Hence, the Functional Whiner.
The Functional Whiner Rules for Proper Whining Etiquette:
1) Choose the right ears to whine to. Try not to whine to the same person all the time; even if that person is someone whom you really can count on, such as your spouse or partner, another family member or your best friend. Spread the “joy” around! Sometimes, your journal can be your ears.
I also suggest trying the morning pages exercise mentioned by Julia Cameron on her book The Artist’s Way. This exercise, also known as brain drain or mind dump, is an effective tool for uncluttering the brain and sparking creativity.
2) Limit your allowed “whine” time. After all, you have to leave room on your schedule for the rest of... you know, life. If left unchecked, whining can surround you with an aura of negativity, consume you, and take over your life.
3) Whine... but always follow a whining session with a positive action step. In other words: Whine about what you have to do... and then do it, anyway. That’s called whining with a purpose!
4) Don’t whine-shame yourself (or others) and don’t accept whine-shaming. You gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself motivated and ready for action. If whining is one of your tools of choice, own it! As long as you use it well and don’t abuse the privilege, whining can actually help you move forward. But remember, if you dish it out, you also have to be able to take it.
5) Don’t over-whine; especially if you’ve already worn out all your available ears, and even your journal would refuse to open its pages to your woes, if it had a choice. At a certain point, it will be time for less whining and more action.
6) Don’t get caught up on the blame game during your whining session. Although you can certainly mention the perceived or real injustices and offenses from others in passing during your whining session, this exercise isn’t supposed to be about anything or anyone else but yourself and your own need to express your take on the unfairness of life. The main purpose here is to let it all go and move on after you’re done whining; so it wouldn’t help to get stuck in the blaming and finger-pointing part, right?
7) Select-whine (or Serenity-whine). As the Serenity Prayer goes, everyone has to learn to accept things they can’t change, build the courage to change what they can, and understand how to tell the difference. Obviously, it’s best to whine about things you can change, as you can use whining as a spring board to take some positive action steps about the things you do have control over.
8) Use whining as a tool, not an excuse. Venting off helps. Doing it to the point that you see yourself as the eternal victim and get paralyzed or lost in the whining phase, doesn’t.
9) Hire a professional you can whine to. The most attentive and helpful ears are usually the ones you pay for! You’re much more likely to receive useful advice, effective tools and guidance about your next positive steps from qualified professionals.
10) Whine not? Ideally, try to build up to the point where whining isn’t needed any longer. Even when properly used as a helpful tool, whining still takes a lot of time and energy that could be better used somewhere else...
Until then, whine away! Just start doing it more functionally and join the Functional Whiner club!
FYI, I still use whining as a tool... Something else to continue working on... ;)
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 05/14/22
Photo by Gundula Vogel on Pixabay
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