How To Deal With Help-Rejecting Complainers
Do you have someone in your life who is constantly feeling sorry for him/herself yet, NOTHING is EVER their fault? I am not talking about someone who is going through a rough time and needs some extra understanding and empathy. I am referring to someone who is consistently asking for advice, wants endless sympathy for his/her unbearable unique situation, complains a lot and then takes zero steps or suggestions to improve their life. The Help Rejecting Complainer (HRC) is a term coined by Jerome Frank in 1952 to describe a person who is so invested in being miserable and is evidently unable to pull him/herself out of the hole they are in and is also unwilling to let others help them out . If you have someone in your life who is a help rejecting complainer, you know first hand how exhausting it is to listen to multiple complaints, one after the other. When someone feels sorry for themselves all (or a lot) of the time and then refuses to accept advice or take new action steps, it is normal to feel frustrated and/or struggle to feel genuine empathy for them. What can you do to better deal with that help rejecting person in your own life?
Below please find 5 tips.
Tips on dealing with a help rejecting complainer:
1. Ask: “Do You Want My Opinion?” It might be uncomfortable at first, to be so direct. However, being honest is a great way to allow someone to know where they stand and also set boundaries for yourself. If what you said isn't well received, the help rejecting complainer will eventually realize you aren't aligned with their viewpoint and may move onto someone else.
2. Whatever you do, don’t tell them “It Isn't So Bad.” No one likes to be told that they are wrong. I have found that most help-rejecting people aren't trying to alienate or frustrate others. Likewise, they do truly feel stuck and alone in carrying their struggles. Pep talks don't work well for people who truly feel paralyzed by their circumstances. The best strategy is to express sympathy as best you can and try to make it as authentic as possible.
3. Recognize their feelings. Psychologist, Peter Fonagy, is one of a number of experts who have been looking at the importance of mirroring from others. According to him, in order to know what we feel, we need someone else to reflect/mirror our emotions back us . Being listened to and having our feelings validated by others can make us feel accepted and therefore can be very healing.
4. Set limits for yourself. While loving other people, it's also equally (if not more) important to remember to love and be kind to yourself. Set limits to how often you will listen to chronic complaints. Additionally, set boundaries on how you will be supportive. Ask yourself: Can I agree to listen without feeling obligated to solve others problems and/or offer advice?
5. Redirect the conversation. Is there a way you can change the conversation without making it obvious that you don't want to revisit the same complaint again? For so many of us complaining has become a habit. A simple redirect is sometimes all it takes to shift their mindset back on to something else. Example: “That's really annoying you had to work overtime without pay again. I can understand why you are exhausted today. Tell me again about your upcoming vacation? I need to also plan something soon.”
Let me know in the comments below what worked for you!