How To Quiet The Constant Complainer In Your Life

We all have one in our lives, someone who is constantly grumbling about this or that, complaining without searching for solutions. How did they get this way, and what do we do about it?

Why so grumpy?
Why so grumpy?
Camille Destraz

GENEVA â€" They grumble and whine all day long for everything and nothing. But what are they trying to communicate?

It's yet another early morning. Nobody thought of buying coffee, the children have left crumbs on the table, the neighbor's dog is barking outside. People on the road drive like jerks (except me, of course), the computer is still running slow at work â€" it seems like it will be a crappy week.

"Ça m’énerve" ("That annoys me") as Helmut Fritz sang in 2009.

From dusk to dawn, there are dozens of opportunities to grumble. And some never miss a chance. It can become a destructive circle that not only stalls the whiner but also contaminates the whole environment. The professional complainer is quickly identified through his lamentations, the sighing and oral utterances (pfff, rhoooo, raaaah), but it's often difficult to understand the reasons behind this attitude so we can help. Yes, yes, help. Because even if we tend to say, "What a whiner that one, would he just piss off," there are ways to break this chronic, toxic negativity.

"Whiners tend to be angry," explains psychologist Pascale Roux. So instead of expressing what they want, they just complain. "A spouse who makes day-long reproaches? A colleague who complains at every opportunity? Make him notice that you have noticed that something's wrong, and ask him what you can do for him."

In other words, encourage him to make requests. "Asking is to accept that others can say no, while just blaming someone leaves no room for them to reply," Roux says. It's a kind of trap.

You should know what I need

"If I see something that doesn't please me, I grumble," says Jacqueline, who believes she inherited the negativity from her father. "But it's true that I don't often say what I do want. The problem is that if I ask, I know that my husband will answer, "If you're not happy, do something about it.""

Photo: Army Guth

It's turns out that we're not born whiners. It is something we become through education, culture and environment. But according to psychologists, this behavior is shaped early in life. "The baby rattles when he wants to eat, cries to express his discomfort, his frustration," Roux says. The parents consequently attempt to identify what's wrong. A shortcut is then created in the child's mind: If he groans, they bring him what he wants. Some people apparently don't grow out of it.

This can cause dramatic situations. A woman who would like her husband to offer him flowers from time to time (or vice versa) expresses frustration by saying something like, "Anyway, you don't love me, I'm not good enough for you." The catastrophic conclusion formed in her mind is, "If you really loved me, you would know what I need to feel loved."

It is often observers who point out the grouch's infernal attitude. He himself struggles to analyze his own behavior. Once you know that you are a complainer, you must roll up your sleeves and try to reverse the trend. Identify the roots of your rising frustration, understand the reasons behind it, then learn to control it and/or to make requests even if you're not accustomed to it.

"You can practice, for example, to make five requests per day," Roux says. There's cerebral tissue that allows for changing behavior. "It takes 21 days to create a neural connection, either by simply giving up whining or through other simple but well-established methods."

History doesn't reveal whether French singer Helmut Fritz followed the advice of psychologists after releasing his hit "Ça m"énerve," but it seems that nobody has heard much from him lately.

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How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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