I have noticed recently that my 4-year-old is starting to master the art of complaining in a particular type of whine format. “No mama, I wanted to do that” or “I don’t want to do thaaaat” or “I want to stay heeeeere” are some of the most frequent complaints. I find myself commonly responding, “when have you ever got what you wanted by complaining/whining to me instead of asking nice, saying please, or saying it in a different way?” While my logic gets her to think at the time, she will typically revert back to the behavior within a day or so. This is something I know I will have to deal with for a very long time so, I do my best to handle each situation as it arises.
Turns out I’m not the only one dealing with complainers. In an article entitled, The “No complaining” sign at Pope Francis’ door, in La Stampa Daily, author Andrea Tornielli writes:
For a few days, on the door of his apartment in Santa Marta has appeared an eloquent as ironic warning sign, which reads: “It is forbidden to complain.” The warning sign explains in Italian that “offenders are subjected to a syndrome of victimism that lowers the mood and the ability to solve problems.” And that “Sanction is doubled if the offense is committed in the presence of children.” Finally, the sign concludes: “To become the best of yourself, you must focus on your own potential and not on your own limits, so stop complaining and act to change your life better.”
That sign is an invention of a psychologist and psychotherapist with a biblical sounding name, Salvo Noé, author of books and motivational courses. In one of his latest publications he has dedicated a few pages to Bergoglio. On 14 June, at the end of the hearing in St. Peter’s Square, Noé had the opportunity to greet Francis for a few moments: he gave him a book, a bracelet and the sign which was immediately appreciated by the pope, who replied: “I will put it outside my office door where I receive people.” Presently, the Pope’s “office,” where audiences usually take place, is in the apostolic palace, whose austerity and beauty do not really match well with that warning, and a bit goliardic sign. So Francis decided to hang it out of the door of his apartment in Santa Marta.
In many occasions, the author of the exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (the joy of the Gospel) urged Christians to abandon the attitude of constant complaining: “Sometimes – the Pope had said some months after the election – there are melancholic Christians with faces like pickled peppers, such long faces, rather than being joyful for the beautiful life they have!”
Even St. Vincent had to deal with complainers. From Saint Vincent as a Person, author Thomas Davitt writes:
He was insistent that every confrère had the right to send letters to him as Superior General: (cf II, 373, 490). It is hardly surprising that many availed of this right in order to make complaints about their superior, or about others in their communities. Vincent was no fool and he knew enough about human psychology to realize that not everything in such letters was to be accepted at its face value. In December 1639 he wrote to Nicholas Durot in Toulouse:
“…we have to accept as absolutely certain the maxim that the difficulties we have with other people stem more from our own insufficiently-disciplined inclinations that from any other cause.” (I, 608)
If only it was as simple as putting up a sign!
- How often do I complain? Is it something I am aware of?
- Am I being joyful for the beautiful life I have?