My brother does nothing but complain about life. I love him, but I am tired of listening to his constant whining – is there something I can say or do to help him? Or to change the direction of our conversations?
Complaining is an integral and inevitable part of relationships. It is a way for people to vent their dissatisfaction with their life circumstances, to offer their own perception of events that happen in their lives and/or to call attention and sympathy to themselves. There is a school of thought that “cathartic complaining,” or negatively appraising life’s circumstances, makes people feel better.
Regrettably, such complaining can become a habit, or a person’s only way of interacting socially. It can make a person start to feel helpless.
If possible, try following these steps when you meet your brother.
- First, using his own vocabulary, call your brother’s attention to his constant dissatisfaction and whining, and how your sibling interactions have lost quality because of it.
- Second, help him to focus on his current living situation and on the possible sources of disappointment and unhappiness.
- Third, present him with different perspectives on his complaining scenarios for the purpose of evaluating them.
Perhaps, over time, using these steps each time you meet, you can help your brother to change his outlook.