Yes, that’s a woodpecker on the hummingbird feeder. Yesterday, I changed my home office around and switched my bird feeders in order to see them better.  Who knew what chaos would ensue?  This morning, several woodpeckers landed on the ‘regular’ seed feeder instead of their peanut butter block.  After turning their heads in confusion, they bolted.  Several finches and sparrows landed on the Nyjer seed.  Some immediately knew something was off but others remained and pecked with a confused look.  One, after ingesting a few seeds actually spit them out!  Apparently, even birds are creatures of habit.  Like us, they go about their day somewhat on automatic pilot.  

As a therapist, I often work with people who operate this way.  They are ‘stuck’ either in relationships or bad habits or simply in their thinking.  While there are a multiplicity of tools they could use, many are reluctant to use them.  They don’t want to change jobs or partners.  (They want to whine about them.)  They don’t want to exercise or improve the way they eat.  (They want to complain about their bodies.)  They most certainly don’t want to re-think the way that they think.  Instead?  They want to remain exactly where they are and complain. 

Change is at the core of human freedom.  I often suggest my clients use it:  your wife won’t stop nagging/screaming at you?  Walk away.  Hate your job?  Quit.  Tired of the frigid, Michigan winters?  Move!  Sometimes just knowing that you are in a situation by choice and could leave at any time is enough to re-orient your outlook to a more positive one.  Stepping away from something negative is your first step towards embracing something more positive.  It puts you on a different road.   Once you start to walk it, you discover there’s a big world out there.  

A friend of mine quit his job yesterday.  He agonized over the choice for months.  I wonder what took him so long.  He was overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid.  Today, he feels a bit shell-shocked but I have no doubt he’ll find something better.  Life is like a long hallway with doors on either side.  Many of us just keep walking and never even try turning those knobs.  Go ahead, turn one.  You might just be surprised.  Remain and complain?  Or be strong and move on?  Your choice. 


6 thoughts on “REMAIN AND COMPLAIN?

  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Helen. Many moons ago I worked as a therapist for a half-way home (people transitioning in or out of psychiatric hospitals). It was not unusual to meet people who didn’t really want to embrace change but rather saw it was far too threatening compared to the possibilities of improving life.

    As for the bird conundrum…..I was expecting the hummers to fight off any and all trespassers. They are feisty and fearless.


  2. YES!!! So true, and so interesting too. You have to wonder why this is when it seems counter intuitive, but as I say this I find myself shaking my finger ad saying “You do this too,” Except I try hard not to complain. (SIGH) Your columns are enjoyable. Thanks. Tasha


  3. It is easy to remain complacent. It is hard to make meaningful change. Courage is that battery needed to operate the tools in the toolbox.
    Thank you for sharing this.


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