I'm always interested in solving problems, in making things a wee bit better. But I do neglect to write letters of complaint when I'm sold a bum good, and I don't always call 311 to report (yet another) streetlight out. The author cites a survey which says that the #1 reason people say they don't complain to someone who can fix the problem is that "they don't have time". However, the same people report they vent to between 7 and 10 people about the problem. So the time's there... it's just not spent effectively.
I'm not a big fan of venting. It gets my heart over-focused on the negative. If I "need" to vent to seven people, chances are I'm ruminating, re-experiencing a negative event seven times, instead of processing it.
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According to the book, another reason people vent instead of complain is that they don't know the right person to contact to fix things. Not in the book: there is a class of problems in life for which there is no correct contact person.
There is no decision-maker whose responsibility is to make a mentally ill person well.
There is no one who can approve a change in a bad relationship to make it better.
And to whom do you complain to fix a chronically ill child?
Those of us who are let's-fix-it types have to be careful to remember that not everything is fixable in the same way. (And yes, even though God can fix things, it's not his job to do our bidding.)
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My upper left jawbone is fractured. It happened at the dentist, a freak accident. I am not going to sue anyone, though undoubtedly I could (and I'd win). Sometimes complaining -- effectively or not -- is not what one needs to do.
Instead, I spoke to the distraught woman who broke my jaw, and told her I forgave her. My jaw will heal, but perhaps her life would not, without gentle words.