Got a crybaby in your family? Oh, I’m not talking about a baby who cries. I’m talking about a four-year-old, an eight-year-old, a 12-year old. And just maybe I’m talking about you.
This is about children and adults who never blame themselves. They’re always right. And they so believe their own propaganda that they tell their sad story to anyone who will listen.
“My teacher picks on me.”
“They make me do all the work and they don’t make my sister do anything.”
“My husband has no idea what I’m going through.”
Author Paula Renaye was challenged by a friend to see herself as a whiner. Her friend found the courage to say, “No matter who you tell that story to, they’ll feel sorry for you and you can go on being a victim forever.”
It was a defining moment because, with surprising insight, Paula realized it was true and made a promise to herself. “I’m going to stop complaining about life and start living it.”
Paula calls her method of self-revelation the Stick and Carrot formula. The Stick: Denial + Delusion = Long-Term Pain; The Carrot: Self Respect + Action = Joy.
Paula says kids have to be helped to understand that blaming others may make them feel good for a little while because friends will sympathize with them. But if the situation keeps replaying itself, unhappiness becomes a permanent state.
Kids need to experience how much time there is for fun and happiness when their world no longer revolves around how they can fix or spin their unhappy situation. How they imagine getting even. How they tell their tale to sympathetic friends.
In her book The Hardline Self Help Handbook, Paula used her own journey out of despair into joy as a breadcrumb trail for others.
I have friends who have lived through harrowing experiences and betrayals and still embrace each new day. And a handful who always seem to have a sad story to tell about people who have let them down.
Do I sometimes play the blame game?
Am I going to never, ever whine again?
I’ll let you know.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, October 2012.