Specifically Critical versus Vaguely Whining
I have an analytical mind.
This is useful and helpful in diagnosing problems and finding ways that things might work better.
This is destructive and unhelpful in relationships and broader life circumstances.
I have noticed a difference between what is helpful and what is not, and it pertains to the specificity of the complaints and criticisms my mind creates.
Specific criticisms can often be helpful. They can fix something.
I hate how that door squeaks and wakes everyone up in the morning.
I dislike how the lawnmower is leaving clumps of grass around.
I don’t like it how so-and-so is always late and makes me late as well.
With things like this, I can address them. I can use WD-40 on the hinges, I can sharpen the blades, and I can address so-and-so’s relationship with time, or go without them.
Then there are the broader complaints the mind cooks up.
My workplace is just such a toxic environment.
My marriage just isn’t what I thought it would be.
So-and-so is lazy.
The world is just such a mess.
These are broad and unaddressable and don’t really mean anything.
They fall apart under scrutiny.
They are not even mostly true.
They cannot help us understand why we are against something.
They globalize and create unfixable problems.
Critical to Survival
The mind is supposed to scan the environment for danger and trouble. It is expected to keep us safe, and to make sure we are getting the best deal available. This can skew it toward negativity and broad assessments.
Notice the mind’s criticisms and complaints.
Are they real and addressable and concrete, or are they vague and hazy and ultimately useless?
If a problem is too indefinable to really be a thing, could it be that there is something else that is bothering you?
Can you address that instead?
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