Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Containing Complaining

I’m a textile artist and I belong to an art guild for textile artists.  Last night was our monthly meeting and I got to see my friend and mentor.  One of the amazing things about her is that she has had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis for years among other health issues and she continues to create art, curate shows, and teach those who want to learn about his fascinating art medium.

While sitting together another friend came over whose husband died  about four months ago.  It was great seeing her and she talked about needing to stay engaged because grief can consume you and create intense isolation.  She drove over 2 hours to attend this meeting because she needed to be with her tribe.

As the three of us sat there talking about the misfortunes of life, there was a comment about complaining and its impact on others.  My mentor turned to me and said, “I believe I do a good job of containing the complaining.”  Aside from the alliterative nature of the phrase, she made a good point.  What’s the benefit of complaining.  If nothing else we know it’s a sure way of clearing a room.  There’s just so much complaining any person can stand.

The flip side of complaining is finding solutions.  If you’re not looking for solutions then you become part of the problem and that too is a turn-off.  Containing complaining isn’t about cutting off your feelings; it’s about channeling your challenges and obstacles into opportunities for compromise.  It’s the place where you enter the phase of acceptance about having a chronic or life-threatening illness and understand that you still have choices.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone has the right to complain about the crappy hand dealt to you, but if it’s the lens through which you see the world then everything is skewed.  You’re opportunities for health and healing diminish and that starts the downward spiral.

What do you do to contain the complaining?  I hope you’ll take the role of teacher and share your experiences with us!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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