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Frank Clayton

Therapist/Counselor

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Why is it socially acceptable to complain but not talk up successes?

It seems perfectly acceptable to complain (at least here in the United States) - even with perfect strangers but sharing successes, even with friends, seems to be met with a kind of coolness.
Is it bad form to share a success even when not trying to build up one's ego but simply attempting to share good things going on in one's life?
Is this "bragging" only considered a social faux pas when it is done in a competitive society or is it equally frowned upon in collaborative one?
Do you believe that sharing successes should be more socially acceptable?
Why or why not?

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    Jul 11 2012: Hi Frank...good question:>)
    Complaining seems to be a popular theme these days in some western cultures, which boggles my mind! The USA, for example, is one of the most abundant countries in our world, and we have one of the highest rates of suicide, drug and alcohal use and anti depressant use.

    We often hear people searching for happiness, contentment, peace and harmony, and also complaining about scarcity. Not having enough...time...possessions...money...seem to be popular mantras these days. I have my own theory that people may feel more "valuable", in a way, if s/he is so busy and does not have enough time, energy, money, etc.? Does this concept reflect the idea of being very productive and not acknowledged?

    A person once chose me as her mentor. She always felt like she did not have enough time and money. Her basic question was...how could she get over these feelings of scarcity? Throughout several sessions, she complained about not having "enough". I consistantly asked the questions...have you ever been without food? Clothing? A home, etc. Her answer was always no...she had a nice home, nice cloths, plenty of food, a good job, etc.

    I did not express sorrow at her feeling of scarcity, and continued to ask the questions. Also, asking why do you want to hold onto this feeling of scarcity? How does it serve you? She finally decided I was not the mentor for her, which was fine for both of us. I was not willing to give her sympathy or approval for her need to be in a victim role, and she was not willing to explore why she chose to stay in the victim role.

    My friends, family and I LOVE to share successes, and we realize that what is a success for one, is also a success for the whole. I believe that sharing ALL of who and what we are is a healthy choice, and to do so, means we need to be comfortable with ourselves and those we choose to share information with. It's all about balance:>)
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      Jul 12 2012: Hi Colleen. Thanks for your well thought out comments. I really like what you said about sympathy. I have found that some people confuse sympathy with love and will victimize themselves in an attempt to glean sympathy. I often tell these clients that I do not feel sorry for them, for to do so would be to agree with them that they are victims and incapable of a better life. It is more love than tough from my perspective because I see each person as whole and complete and that it is merely my job to help them remember who they really are. Thanks again for your comment.
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        Jul 12 2012: My pleasure Frank:>)
        One of my successes, in my humble perception, is exploring the life adventure always...all ways...including with communication...which I LOVE!

        I also observe that people sometimes confuse sympathy with compassion and empathy. I believe that compassion/empathy is part of love, while sympathy is more from fear. I agree that to sympathize with people keeps them in the victim role, and reinforces the idea that they are incapable of doing something different. I also see each person as whole and complete, with the opportunity and capability to make many choices in this life experience. Many people have given up the idea that they have choices, and the ability to orchestrate their lives in many ways. I also LOVE helping to empower people to remember. Thanks for your comment as well:>)

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