Why We Love Whining — and 4 Ways to Stop
Oh how we love whining!
I don’t think any of us sets out to make a habit of whining. But it sure is easy to do, isn’t it? And it makes us feel better, temporarily.
We may love whining, but I’m pretty sure God doesn’t. Neither does anybody else who is subject to our droning.
Having ministered to women for nearly 30 years as a pastor’s wife, Bible teacher, and a conference speaker, I’ve heard my share of whining among women. I regrettably admit I’ve done my share of whining throughout those years, too. And I will venture to say that you and I love whining for these reasons:
- We believe “venting” will make us feel better. But it never does. When we vent our problems so we can “get a load off of our minds” what we are doing is pulling others down into our pit of despair. And then not only do we feel worse for having been a downer, but we’ve made others feel worse, too.
- We seek validation for our attitude. Misery loves company. So if you and I are whining, then someone else joins in, then a third person tops off our complaints with the kind of day she had, then we feel we are justified in our “life is so unfair” mentality. We may even believe we’ve found our own little support group. But actually we’ve just instigated a group of whiners that everyone else in the office, Bible study, or neighborhood will want to avoid.
- We are focused on us. Let’s be honest and admit that it feels good, for awhile, to be focused on ourselves. Our flesh likes that. But it’s not how God designed us to live or even act, on occasion. Happiness and fulfillment come through obedience to God’s Word. Scripture lays out clearly God’s will for us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We are to be people who are grateful in everything, not complaining and whining with whatever life brings our way. Living with gratitude always brings joy.
The young preacher Oswald Chambers said:
“No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges – always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.”
So how do you and I stop the whining so our lives can be lovely, generous and drama free instead of annoying and self absorbed? By being aware of what we sound like and doing something about it. Here are four ways to stop the whining — and the drama:
- Renew Your Mind to Think Differently. When you start to verbally vent about what went wrong, train your mind to first report what went right. Then it’s possible you won’t get to the complaining at all. Romans 12:2 instructs us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The world complains and grumbles and sees the worst in every situation. But one who is transformed by the renewing of her mind will not focus on the problems, but be a person of praise.
- Restrain What Comes Out of Your Mouth. In other words think before you talk. Is your story or complaint going to help anyone? If not, don’t say it. Ephesians 4:29 instructs: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Rarely does whining benefit anyone who listens. So restrain it altogether. Make sure words don’t exit your mouth unless they’re building someone up, not bringing them down.
- Resolve to Be Grateful. One who is joyful rarely complains. And the key to joy is putting God first, others second, and self last. You can do this by cultivating an attitude of praise in everything. Apply 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to your life and be grateful in all circumstances, even the difficult ones, and you will find yourself living joyfully, rather than in a state of complaint, no matter what is happening in your life.
- Realize Others are Watching. Nothing sours our testimony as believers more than a whining tongue. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (NLT).
William Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players….” You and I have an audience more often that we realize. That audience is there listening, every time we whine. So, guard your testimony as a child of God and don’t keep making “much ado about nothing.”
For more on how to whine less and be more of what God designed you to be, see my newest book, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You.