At Kent State University, I had a music around the world teacher (this was not a class for music majors) who would open the first few weeks of class by complaining about the students on the roster who didn’t show up to class. I quickly learned that he was lessening the experience for those of us who did show up by focusing on the students he didn’t like. Sure, a half-empty auditorium is disheartening for any presenter (a half-full auditorium of mostly college freshman is just the same), but what about the students who actually showed up?
By complaining about absent students, was he trying to remind the students who weren’t there last class to show up more often? Perhaps, but mostly, he was complaining to a problem that wasn’t even there to listen. He was wasting his valuable time complaining about someone who wasn’t there to listen to his complaint.
Do you find yourself complaining about someone who isn’t there to listen, and really fixating on it? Do you find yourself talking about the people in life who aren’t there for you more than voicing to them personally that you are disappointed? If you are, it’s a cycle of negativity, and you are trapped.
I found myself changing overnight recently when I found that I am now more likley to offer advice and communication when someone comes to me with a problem. Friends are finding it unlikely that I will bash a mutual friend for their life decisions when they vent to me. Yes, venting is normal and getting it off your chest is, but I just don’t feel like talking about someone behind their back and taking a side does anything for me anymore. So I empathize, but my end game is to remind a friend to take their grievances DIRECTLY to the person who hurt them. I’m not a gossip sounding board and I get that people won’t like me anymore because of it. I am not sad that I can’t help in that way. What can I do if I didn’t cause a problem between 2 friends that I care about? Nothing, besides tell them to communicate.
In summary, don’t be like my music teacher and fixate on the people who aren’t there. Get it off of your chest and then move on. Thank people for being there. Keep in contact with the ones who support, love, care, and are proud of you! But never miss the chance to tell someone how you feel. You will feel much better if you tell someone directly instead of complaining about them in private. Be honest, but if you don’t agree, maybe it’s time to let that friendship sit for a while, and that’s okay.
If someone isn’t there, there are still plenty of people who are. Focus on what you have and put your energy into that.