A mentor of mine recently asked me where in my life have I been the most frustrated. Oh that’s an easy one I told him. When I’m surrounded by people that I can’t control.
I can’t control the person that texts and drives. I can’t control the lines at Disneyland. I can’t control how fast someone walks in front of me and I can’t control the person that leaves their laundry in the dryer well after the cycle has ended.
I want to control all of them in the worst way but I can’t and that frustrates me. So what do I do instead? I complain. I complain a lot. Insert shake of the head here.
I don't even realize how often I complain because it has become a habit and, like all habits, it’s so familiar that it’s invisible. I blink and fifteen minutes can go by and all I’ve done is complain.
Complaining keeps me from taking action. It gives me excuses to procrastinate and keeps me from achieving my goals. It also kills my creativity and innovation.
So why do I do it?
I complain because I’m seeking sympathy and emotional validation from you and if I complain loud enough perhaps you will validate my experience. Fingers crossed. Here’s hoping for your validation.
All kidding aside there’s a part of me, my identity if you will, that believes that life is full of hardship and challenge. It’s the wounded inner child in me that learned to believe this from a childhood of abuse and neglect.
I’m tired of complaining. It’s exhausting. Plus I’m not a kid anymore. I deserve better but the only person that can give me better is ME.
So how do I complain less? One positive thought at a time.
Henry David Thoreau said “As single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
This beautiful quote reminds me that I have to stand guard of my mind because what consumes it controls my life. It also means that it will take a lot of work (and that’s okay). You don’t go to the gym once, eat healthy for a day, and then presto your in the best shape of your life. No. You go daily. You put in the hard work and gradually over time you see the results. The same goes for our minds.
Most people don’t like hearing this so they stay in their comfortably uncomfortable rut and keep complaining. The real danger for people who are constant complainers is that it traps them in a negative reality, giving them more to complain about. Their personal relationships suffer and their emotional and physical health declines.
We must take action if we want to complain less. So where do we start? How about this suggestion. See if you can go the next 24 hours without complaining. That's it. Just one day. And when you do complain (because you probably will) try and substitute your complaint with something that you're grateful for. When we can do this we shed old habits and re-shape our brains which brings about new possibilities in how we react to the world around us.
Have a beautiful day!