When I Stop Complaining
“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.” — Stephen Hawking
If anyone has a reason to complain, it may be Stephen Hawking. He is almost paralyzed from a motor neuron disease related to Lou Gehrig’s disease. It has continually gotten worse over his lifetime and now he communicates with a computer speech generator. Yet, I’ve never read a quote in which he complains about his physical health condition, ever.
Complain (verb): 1. to express dissatifaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment or grief; find fault
To deconstruct the word and it’s use = Complaints are by definition human “expression”, they are thus not necessarily factual or true. Complaints are my expression of dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment and grief or my finding of fault with a person, place, thing or event.
It is human to not like certain people, places, things or events and it is human to have emotional reactions to those things. It is not a requirement that I attach to those negative emotions, form mental constructs and speak them out loud though. That is my choice.
Like Stephen Hawkings’ quote, I don’t like hanging around people who are angry or complain all the time either. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting for me to sit and listen to someone drone on and on about all the things wrong. It makes me want to complain about how much they complain! Thus, my solution is to avoid them or if stuck in their prescence I zone out and say “hmmm, hmmm…” a lot. I build walls and install filters to protect myself from complainers and the negativity. Not the best way to connect as humans.
When I complain it is simply me emotionally reacting to situations, attaching to the subsequent emotions/thoughts and then, not being mindful, expressing those thoughts through my behavior and speech. I’m on emotional auto-pilot, the lizard is driving the brain and who knows what I’m going to say or do. It can ruin an entire day and really annoy everyone I run into when I complain about whatever happened b/c of so and so. Really, no one else cares what I’m complaining about any way.
The main issue I have with complaining is that there is no solution presented for the problem, just commentary about the problem and why the problem is so bad. If someone makes a complaint and presents a solution that is awesome, as I think if there is a solution presented then it really isn’t a complaint. Someone just told a story of something they did not like and what they are going to do to change it. Otherwise… No solution = just complaining.
America and americans are the world champions of complaning and then presenting no solutions. The news, government, friends, family, co-workers, everyone does it… Complaints and complaints and complaints and very few solutions. Complaining and being offended have now become ways of pretending to do something when in reality, it’s just complaining, nothing is actually being done and no problems are being solved.
A perfect example, on a minute by minute basis, is Facebook posts, which 90% of seem to be simply reposts of complaints, not even new original posts with new personal complaints. The complaining is so lazy online that people just share others’ complaints and maybe write a sentence about how horrible something is. This may be a news flash — No protest or Facebook post ever changed anyones mind — ever.
I used to complain all the time and felt justified in my complaining because I was “right” or someone screwed me or something wasn’t fair. Well, maybe those judgments were true but they didn’t change the reality of what had happened. Life is not fair, I don’t always get what I want, I do lose and lose often. I’ve lost a lot of money, houses, cars, businesses, my health, my mind, been divorced and had a lot of “bad things happen to me”. Complaining about any of them did not fix the problem, which the whole time, the problem was me.
Complaining is a surefire sign of me being a victim (also a narcissist). Being a victim is helpless, weak, passive and I have found being a victim does not work for me being successful or happy. So I’ve been working on not complaining, which is much easier said than done. I didn’t realize all the small complaints I made every day. I could catch myself bitch and moan about some large things, but there were many small irritants I was reacting to on a daily basis.
When presented with a negative emotional state like anger and wanting to complain, I now try to practice the 4 R’s:
1. RECOGNIZE: I have an uneasy mindset (anger, frustration, dissapointment) at this time b/c of x, y or z (whatever is not going my way)
2. REFRAIN: Stop and take a breath, don’t do anything, don’t react, don’t say anything stupid… If it’s bad take a deep breath in and exhale forcefully until no more air can be blown out… Repeat
3. RELAX: Keep breathing and accept the temporary nature of the situation I am in. Accept the old way of complaining doesn’t solve any problems and the emotions and negative thoughts will pass.
4. RESOLVE: When removed from the situation and not emotionally charged — Construct a solution to the situation which brought about the uneasy mindset… if there is no solution, accept it and let it go
To do a No Complaining challenge visit “A Complaint Free World”: http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/
I’d love to hear your experiences with No Complaining!
Originally published at douglashilbert.com on November 29, 2015.