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Column: Whiners vs. warriors
by Lauretta Hannon
July 25, 2013 11:15 AM | 5013 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: I have a friend who I’ve become very close to in the last two years. We share a lot of laughs and good times and have great conversations. In building up this friendship I began to notice that my friend would constantly complain about specific areas of her life. I’m the type of person who solves problems. I don’t complain about something if I’m not looking for a solution, but I know everyone is not like me, and I’ve offered to help my friend in various ways should she ever want it. The problem: She says she wants the help and needs someone who will tell it like it is and gets us all excited about starting this plan, but then she flakes on me.

She, admittedly, has no self-control or willpower to stay on track and finish the job. She starts multiple projects at the same time and then just gives up on them and goes into self-defeat mode. I’ve seen her do this with several different things in her life, and I hate it for her because she’s only hurting herself. Do I continue to put myself out there and offer help if she wants it — or do I back off and accept that when she starts complaining, she doesn’t really want help, she just wants to complain and probably vent her frustration? If I back off, then my next question is what do I do if she asks for my help with another project? I would hate to say no, because I love to help my friends, but I also don’t want to be let down again when she decides she’s not going to finish.

A: Eliminate the offers of help, but let her know you’ll be there when she’s truly ready to improve her life. Explain the effect her “all-talk, no action” approach is having on you. Be clear that you’ll happily step in after she makes a real move.

In the meantime, give her these tips and thoughts:

-Suggest that she focus on only one project at a time. Instruct her to complete that project before starting another. Little triumphs lead to big accomplishments.

-Remind her of the power of her words and thoughts. Constant complaining is a high form of self-sabotage. Every negative word magnifies her frustration and failure. And in the new rules of your friendship, I’d enforce a whining quota. Once she reaches the quota (to be determined by you), you shut her down. One of my nephews is a chronic complainer, but now I recite a mantra to him when he is about to throw a pity party. “We are warriors, not whiners,” I remind him.

-Ask her to consider why she behaves as she does. What’s behind her unwillingness to move forward? Is it fear, lack of organization and focus or something else? Have her contemplate this question: What will she need to do, be or give up in order to change her outcomes? Don’t engage her in this conversation, but simply suggest that she go to a quiet place, be still and do some soul-searching around these issues.

I have a friend who has bemoaned her job situation for the last decade. She says she hates her work, that every day is misery and so forth. Like you, I kept trying to help but eventually realized that she was choosing to stay right where she was. It was like she was wearing concrete boots. I want to see her thrive, but she won’t until she handles her inner work.

Continue to be a good comrade, but don’t allow the self-destructive whining. Friends don’t let friends wallow.

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Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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