On this board, I've noticed a lot of different posts that have to do with avoiding overly negative chatter, gossip, and other topics of conversation that are draining of your time and energy. I am really trying to practice the art of acceptance these days, which means noticing the times when I find myself complaining and very consciously turning myself away from that sort of behavior. These days I'm attempting to surround myself with people who are able to take stock of the things in their lives, good and bad, and learn from them rather than sit around and whine about it. It is so empowering to be around such people. Of course, there are times when we want to be able to vent, but if this venting becomes a habitual thing that we do to draw sympathy from others and avoid facing our issues in a mature way, I think it becomes dangerous.
I'm curious--if you are around someone who is complaining ad infinitum, what do you do? Do you excuse yourself from the conversation? Challenge the person's ideas? I once did the latter with a friend of mine and she got offended because she expected me to passively listen to her rather than offer any feedback or constructive criticism, so I'm trying to figure out an alternative way of avoiding petty complaining.
Trying to redirect the conversation to something more uplifting without actually criticizing the complainer may be one strategy to try. I will often ask a question on a totally different topic get things moving in a different direction.
Martha, I've often tried changing the subject as well--depending on the person, it can sometimes work. I actually like it when people redirect the conversation if I'm the one doing the complaining because it gets me out of that little me, me, me mentality.