When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness. — Eckhart Tolle
I’m pretty sure I complain about many things — I just don’t hear myself. Not anymore at least. It’s become sort of an automatic release.
The little things that get under the skin can be irritating and it’s difficult to stop yourself from lamenting about the annoyance — i.e. at my kid's lacrosse matches there used to be this group of what I can only describe as douchey parents, who offer up less than pleasant critiques about how some of the children are playing.
I’ve complained about them to my husband, I’ve complained about them to my friends, and what has come of it… is nothing. They’re people and they happen to suck.
I’ve learned to distance myself from that particular group and even though they bother me, and rub me the wrong way, I see there is no point in my complaining. It accomplished nothing except to let their presence follow me into my car, on my drive home, and into my texts and conversations.
And that’s on me. I don’t want them hanging around in my daily life anymore.
Complaining makes things sticky.
Nothing has ever been improved by complaining about it. People are still going to suck, circumstances are still going to annoy you, and complaining about them on a regular basis will only end up with you, in bed, with them. They’re stuck to you.
They’re stuck because complaining isn’t about fixing, it’s about obsessing over. It offers no solutions, only perhaps a momentary reprieve from releasing some steam.
Which is all well and good… but when it borders obsessive — and we have all come across a negative nelly or two — it can get destructive. Always focusing on the bad, always finding something to annoy you, upset you, or make you sad, is not a fun way to live. (Not to mention how many friends it’ll make you lose along the way.)
Do you ever wonder why you don’t see that many “complaint” boxes anymore? (Those used to be a thing right? I feel like I remember in the old days of the ’70s and ‘80s complaint boxes were there for the customer to offer up any grievances they may have endured.) Perhaps Facebook and Yelp have become the new boxes.
Anyway, there’s a reason you don’t see many “complaint” boxes anymore, and it’s because no one wants to hear it. Complaints don’t inspire people to take positive action.
What we see nowadays are “suggestion” boxes because while you may have something to complain about, the word ‘suggestion’ triggers your brain to begin “problem-solving”, and wouldn’t it be great if you could solve that restaurant's problem? Yes, you think that — subconsciously perhaps — but that’s what happens.
You see them as needing your advice and that’s the difference between complaining for the sake of begin heard, and making a difference.
One is proactive while the other is plain obnoxious.
Curtailing the complaining.
My goal for one day, and if it goes well I’ll continue onward and upward, is to not complain at all, not even once for a full 24 hours.
I will stand tall and refuse to mutter under my breath the things that perhaps my child did, or does on a consistent basis that I can’t tolerate — like my one kid, he uses this voice that could pierce a hole in your eardrum, it’s worse than fingernails across a chalkboard — instead of saying how that’s the worst sound I’ve ever heard in my entire existence on this planet, I am going to offer up a solution instead.
And if that solution falls on deaf ears — he has to have pierced his own eardrums by now — then I will have to learn to wait until he outgrows it.
Or I’ll cover my ears.
But I’ll feel a little better about it since I’m either proactively trying to change the situation or I’m accepting it. Any other way is madness.
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!