Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Turn a Bitch-Fest into a Shift-Fest

I don’t know about you, but I used to love talking to my friends about dating. And by talking, I mostly mean complaining to them.

About the latest, not so greatest chapter, in the ever-evolving drama of my search for love.

In fact, I sought out people who enjoyed all that complaining, who also thought it was great fun.

And indeed- there was some fun to it- but after many years, I finally realized that all that negativity, pessimism, and complaining didn’t really make me feel better, at least not for more than the time we talked.

Now, new research supports this view.

At, they discussed a study showing that all that complaining, especially about relationship woes, can actually make you feel worse.

It can amplify the badness, confirm your worst fears, and at the very least- keeps you stuck in all that yuck!

Heck- that’s what I thought friends were for!

But not any more.

Now I know that a real friend isn’t one who lets you wallow in all of that nonsense.

A true friend will help you shift from feeling bad, to feeling better- because nothing is more important than feeling good.

So, here’s what I suggest the next time you want to have a bitch fest with your pal.

4 Steps to Turning a Bitch-Fest into a Shift-fest

1. Tell your friend that you have a problem and that you want to vent. BUT ask them to stop you at 10 minutes past the pity party.

2. Then go ahead and complain, bitch, moan. Cry if you need to. Be angry if you want. Whine even. Whine a lot. That was my personal favorite- or so I am told. But you only get 10 minutes so be sure to get it all out.

3. Then together with your friend’s help, discover some answers to this question:
“What would help me feel better right now?

Feeling better may include things you can do around the ugly situation: shifting your perspective, or taking some helpful action.

And it may include things outside of the actual situation- things that help move you away from the yuck.

For instance you may feel like committing to your friend that you will indeed do something that will result in feeling better, like:

- Go to yoga: good for releasing sadness
- Take a kickboxing class: great for getting out anger
- Read a self-help book: good for empowering yourself
- Get manicures together: a little pampering may be in order
- Go dancing with your friends Friday night: good for plain old distraction

4. Whatever you do, make a pact with your good buddy, that you won’t end the discussion until you’ve been able to shift, even just a tiny bit, into a better place.

That’s a true friendship: one in which you each help the other step into your Better Self, your Higher self, who holds all the wisdom you need to get through any situation.

Isn’t that a much better use of friendship than multiplying and spreading the yuck?

Readers: How has a friend helped you shift into a better place? Please share!

Want to read the original msnbc article on the study?
Here it is: Quit Complaining, It May Make You Feel Worse


Seth said...

Awesome idea! In "Elizabethtown" the crazed flight attendant tells O. Bloom's character "take five minutes and wallow in the misery. now, get over it." Great advice and a sign of true friendship.


Dr. Jenn said...

Thanks for stopping by Seth!

O. Blooms's character was smart!

We've gotten much too comfortable complaining in this society without taking the next step: doing something useful about it!

Of course: "Get over it" has to be done sweetly, and softly, and hopefully with some supportive brainstorming!

I hate nothing worse than someone without empathy shouting, "Get over it."

But a true friend, does indeed, help us "Get over it!"

SINgleGIRL said...

Good advice.

I've never really understood the whole bitchfest thing. I'll admit to having times when I needed to wallow, but the friends I want to cry to have always been the ones who tell me to dry my tears and go to yoga.

Michele Priceq said...

Yes, you are so on target and I would take it further and recognize that you have an opportunity to turn this discomfort into something positive.

When your focus is only on the yuckness of what is happening there is no room for growth.

Yet, it is important to not ignore the yuckness, which is why learning simple techniques to clear you of that energy are so important.

It is like trying to paint on a canvass that has a painting already on it, it clouds your picture and its beauty.

And for those of you who would say the masters painted over painting, I would agree. They were MASTERS, have you mastered your relationships, then start with a clean canvass.

Ta Da!

Mollie said...

One of my newest friends is the very best at this. She listens, she supports, she encourages, then she changes the subject lol.

So even if I wanted to whine some more, I feel like it would be rude so I have to follow the new flow of conversation and in my favorite phrase 'put on my big girl panties and deal with it' =)

Anonymous said...

I'm usually the one shifting as I talk about it. One saving grace -- I tend to find humor in even the direst of situations and it becomes an ode to how funny life can be.

Many people I know have been encouraging me to write a blog about all the crazy things that happen to me and to be honest, I haven't for precisely this reason.

It may be funny, but what you concentrate on is what you bring into your life. So... no blog posts about my personal woes unless it can help turn someone else's woe around.

Good post Jenn -- I like it.

Kim Falconer said...

This is a great post, thank you! I love the way you suggest we vent the feelings, let them out and then stop! Assess. Find ways to feel a bit better.

Focusing on the neg just makes matters worse and though the drama queen in us wants to play lead in the soapy, our core self is looking for fulfillment. Let's all support the core self!

Thank you again,

Dr. Jenn said...

SINgleGIRL- I'm glad you have such wise friends. You can tell how smart someone is by the company they choose to keep! ;)

Michele Priceq- I totally agree!

One of the best ways to shift from the yuck, is to ask: What is the gift or lesson for me here?

Then practice shifting into gratitude for the gift.

Finding a friend who's great at helping you see the gift, at helping you shift into gratitude: priceless!

Dr. Jenn said...

It does help to have a friend who'll get you off the subject!

But I'm curious= if she just changes the topic- how does that make you feel???

Might make me, myself, feel bad! Maybe not you- tho! :)

That's what I love about the idea of having an agreement with your friend! Then when they interrupt you, it doesn't feel quite so, I don't know, disregarded!

That way you know it's not that they don't want to hear you- it's that they want to help you more than hear you out! :)

Dr. Jenn said...


You make a great point- sometimes when we start to talk about it, we shift ourselves!

That can be the beauty of talking it out! Sometimes just a listener is all it takes to create an opening, a new perspective for yourself.

And if you don't have a listener- just writing about it could have the same effect!

I'd think writing about your own dating woes, reframed to see what was positive about the situation- might help your readers connect the dots in their own lives!

Dr. Jenn said...

Kim Falconer- Yup the drama queen may love the attention, but the Higher self isn't scoring any peace which such shows!

I do think it's important to allow yourself the space to have the feeling, to experience it in your body, but not to add to the story of it in your mind.

When you let the emotion be, without adding all your thoughts- it shifts much more quickly!

Thanks for stopping by!

loveambassador said...

I like your title turning a bitch-fest into a shift-fest. In my work with EFT or emotional freedom technique. You talk about the issue and allow the bitching and then slowly watch the energy shift. I have had people crying and bitching acutally get upset when the shift happens.

If you grew up with feelings of anger and resentment on a daily basis; there can be a craving to recreate those feelings. This pattern can be set up and cause someone to want to "hold on" and recreate these feelings over and over in a "bitch" session.

Great blog. Found you on twitter. I am going to add a link to your blog.

Dr. Jenn said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

I totally agree- that old drama can be addicting. People with less than ideal childhoods can crave the highs and lows.

I know because I am a recovering Love Addict! And every now and then, all that peace and calm will creep up on me and I will want some good, clean drama.

But now I catch myself before I create it!

And of course, it helps to have friends that won't let you step too far into the drama!

Thanks for adding the link!

Catherine Behan said...

Hi Dr. Jenn,

Loved this post! I also focus my clients on their language and now they choose to talk about their dramas.

Yesterday I was speaking to a woman who was very calm and collected as she told me of her relationship woes.

She told me her husband was filled with self loathing. I listened as she finished her story and then asked, "Which of these three descriptions feel best?"

He is filled with self loathing.

He is poorly equipped to deal with what is going on between you.

He is unaware of who he really is.

Neutralizing how we look at things really softens our hearts!

Love your blog! I will be back!


Cherry said...

Great advice - AND...

Whilst having a good moan can help get things off your chest, we can get into the habit of thinking negative thoughts.

We can only think one thought at a time so we can choose whether we want it to be a negative or a positive one.

I think it's a fun challenge to catch yourself thinking a negative thought then changing it into a positive one. e.g. Instead of "All the decent guys are taken" could be changed to "I only need one decent guy, and I'll meet him when the time is right" - or to whatever makes you feel better.

How we think affects how we feel! (Do an internal check on how you feel when you think a negative thought, and then how you feel when you think a positive one - it's amazing how the feeling changes!

Dating Advice

Dr. Jenn said...


Thanks for stopping by!!

I love the examples you gave! The language we use, the thoughts we think, the perception we CHOOSE- is up to us in each and every moment.

And we can choose to move toward love, or away from love. I hope your woman client chose to move toward loving her husband, with an empathic thought that opens the door for connection!

Right on!

Dr. Jenn said...


You are so right!

I love this that you said: we can only think one thought at a time- it's up to you whether it's negative or positive.

I agree- it's up to us to play the game of catching every downer and playfully engaging it's more upbeat cousin.

Your feelings are your biggest clues- as well as your attraction point.

Feel great- attract your soulmate much more quickly.

Feel bad- keep attracting jerks.

Your choice!
Keep choosing love, in every moment!