I’ve lived in San Francisco for almost a year, but it still feels like another world to me. Take for instance these blue signs on the ground that read “No Dumping.”
It’s not clear to me what the crab is supposed to convey. Do some inconsiderate people throw live or eaten crabs down the drain? Is it a reminder that our pollution affects our animal neighbors?
I think the most likely reason is it’s a warning that there are monster crabs living in the sewers who will scuttle out of their murky lairs to pinch us to death if we dump our garbage on them.
That vision of our crab overlords got me thinking of other ways people dump their “garbage” on us. Does this sound familiar?
- You come home from work exhausted and your wife greets you not with a hug and a kiss, but with a rant about how awful her day was.
- Your best friend calls you during lunch not to talk about last night’s game, but to list all the reasons his new boss is an SOB and didn’t deserve that promotion.
- Your sister and her boyfriend broke up (again) but instead of a pep talk and night out with you, she’d rather cry on your shoulder about how all men are jerks, she’ll never get married, and she’s doomed to become a crazy cat lady.
These people are dumping on you.
They are focused on all the problems (real or imagined) in their lives, and they let their toxic rantings spew out of them and all over you.
These dumpers are not looking for advice or a 2-way conversation—it’s just an opportunity for them to vent to an audience (you). In their minds, they are right and everyone else is wrong.
The dumpers may feel better “getting it all out,” but I guarantee you won’t.
You’ll feel like a big crab.
I’m not saying you should avoid people who genuinely want to have a conversation with you or who are asking for advice. But you should limit your time spent with chronic dumpers. Their bad moods will rub off on you, and you might even become a dumper to someone else.
The next time you’re overwhelmed and feel like dumping on someone, try one of these tricks:
No, really. Take a few deep breaths to calm down. Count to 10 slowly and deliberately. Having a short break to breathe could stop you from firing off a nasty e-mail or saying something you’ll regret later. If you need to, get out of there and give yourself some physical breathing space.
Think about what you love.
When I need a positive boost, I list in my mind all the things I love or am thankful for (or list them in my gratitude journal). It could be anything—the clothes I’m wearing, being able to see, having access to healthy food, my favorite pen, being loved by the people in my life. This exercise makes me realize how good my life is.
Focus on the other person.
Instead of dumping your problems on your friend, ask her about her day. Where did she get those shoes? Did she have fun on her vacation? Would she like to catch a movie this weekend? By focusing on the other person, you can stop yourself from selfishly hogging the conversation.
These tricks work if you’re the victim of a dumper too. To get over a bad mood caused by someone dumping on you, remember to breathe, think about the things you love, and focus on the other person by leading the conversation to a happier topic. Maybe your friend hates her job, but how was that date she went on?
Are you a dumper or dumpee? Both?