There’s a word in Yiddish which has no literal translation in English: “kvetch.”
It means “to complain, to moan, to bitch, to bellyache, to crab, grumble, fuss, nag, squawk, whine, gripe, etc. We all do it at times, but it can be a real problem when the kvetching hijacks your brain. It’s then likely to intrude upon any experience you may be having, either alone or with a partner.
Have you ever been with someone whose constant kvetching ruined the day? It’s not fun for either of you. My antidote? “Kvetch dates.”
In the same spirit of “worry dates,” (where you minimize the intrusive nature of worry by legitimizing and scheduling it), so goes the “kvetch date.” If you’re alone and feeling overwhelmed or irritated or sorry for yourself, the last thing you’ll want is for those feelings to take over your day. On the other hand, there may be sufficient reasons for you to feel this way, so you also don’t want to negate your own internal experience. The compromise here may be to “prescribe the symptom,” as we say, and make a date with yourself to give those feelings some limited airtime. Establish a time when you allow yourself to fully vent those feelings, either in writing or talking aloud, or sharing them with someone you trust. Set a timer, and limit yourself to an allotted time, maybe ten minutes. Then stop, and change the frequency in your brain by directing your attention to something else, something neutral or positive. If your mind returns to “kvetch mode,” remind yourself that you’ll have another “kvetch date” tomorrow, and get back to the more positive activity. By practicing this, you’ll be developing significant thought-stopping skills which will serve you well when needed.
If you’re coupled up, you can make “kvetch dates” with each other, especially at the end of a long, stressful week, or in the midst of an emotionally challenging situation. Make a pact to avoid advice giving, solutions or judgments, and to simply listen to each other. Agree on a maximum time allowed, then change the frequency by engaging in something pleasurable or neutral. You’ll be protecting positive experiences by together getting the “kvetch” out of room.