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How to Complain

Inevitably someone is going to piss you off. A waiter will forget your food order, a taxi will cut you off in traffic. It could be a friend, a colleague, an employee, or your partner. Your friends forgot to invite you to a camping trip, an employee lost his shit with an important client, your girlfriend crashed into your Harley. How we respond to these situations goes to the very heart of who we are.

There are essentially three ways to complain.

1) Heated fury. This is where you fly off the handle and go bubonic. Your intention is to unleash satanic fury on the perpetrator - to insult and belittle them. The problem with this approach is that your complaint will never be heard. The perpetrator becomes the victim and they too will be offended. They will switch off and not listen to the barrage of violent insults. Nothing will be achieved.

2) Frozen fury. You turn the temperature down to forty below. You do not say much but you nurture deep hate. You withdraw and you swallow the pain. You probably grew up in a family where no one ever complained or rocked the boat - this has always been my preferred method of complaining.

3) Mature fury. You come from a position of high self-awareness and self-worth. You know you do not deserve to be treated badly or ignored. You are calm because you like yourself. You have the confidence not to throw yourself into the mayhem of insults. You want to resolve and rectify the disequilibrium quickly while the event is still fresh in everyone's mind. You are secure in the knowledge that your grievance will be heard and taken to heart. You are careful not to insult the perpetrator and make every effort to be constructive. For example, you use phrases like: what you did really hurt me.

It is supremely difficult for most men to complain maturely because it shows up our vulnerability, and we see vulnerability as a weakness and a feminine quality. But consider the health implications of the other two options. Blind fury causes your body to fill with toxic cortisol that will kill you in a few decades. Frozen fury causes issues to fester and will also kill you in a few decades. By process of elimination, option 3 is the healthiest way to go if you want to live to 100.

There is of course, a fourth option - not to complain because you do not give a fuck. Mark Manson wrote a fantastic book entitled "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" and opens by telling the story of Charles Bukowski. Until the age of 49, he worked in a post office while writing sporadically and focusing more on womanizing, drinking and doing everything possible to stay out of the army. At the ripe old age of 50, he published his first novel "Post Office". He went on to publish another five novels and ten nonfiction books. In 1986 Time magazine referred to him as the "laureate of American lowlife". Charles did not give a royal f*ck what other people thought of him. He was not agreeable, he lived his life as he saw fit and became a prodigious author. He is not the perfect blueprint for modern living, but he lived on his terms.

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