Have you ever noticed that when you complain, the story that you tell is a wee bit more dramatic than what happened in real life?
Maybe the tone of voice used against you is not harsher and more snobby. Or perhaps your coworker that is being annoying and passive-aggressive is now in your mind (and your story) a womanizing snob that personally has it out to make you miserable.
Our thoughts are usually our worst enemy when it comes to feeling victimized by those around us. Why? Because our inner dialogues are d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c. This voice is our ego, ladies, and gentleman, and our egos love to be a wounded little animal all the freakin time.
The ego is your inside dialogue. Your complaints are your outside dialogue. If you have ever felt like you are complaining too much, but you can’t seem to break the habit, that is because you (or your ego) is feeling wounded and hurt. We complain because we want to feel justified to feel sorry for ourselves when the outside of our world doesn’t look like how we want it to on the inside.
The problem with this solution, however, is that it is in fact, no solution at all. Yes, it may make us feel temporarily good inside as if we’ve released pressure. But incessant complaining actually, only prevents us from moving forward in our lives. When you focus all of your thoughts and emotional energy on the circumstances and the people that hurt you, you are only able to see that which bothers you. Thus your experiences in life day after day, seem to be more depressing, more hurtful, and more isolating.
The cure to this form of depression is to be more conscientious of your complaints in the first place so that you can choose to orientate your focus and thus, experience a better life.
PLUS I’ve got a super bonus actionable step at the end of the blog here so that you can take your first step towards a no-complain life!
Why We Truly Complain
Simply put, we complain because we want to be understood. We are reaching for validation from other people, to justify any sense of hurt or wrongdoing that we perceived was done to us. Complaining feels like a release of energy, and we often cite complaining as “getting things off of the chest.”
Complaining is one of the worst things that we can do to ourselves and, to those to whom we complain. As much as we like to try and kid ourselves when we complain, we are only heightening the emotional energy that we are lending to that situation, that initially made us feel like crap. The more we concentrate on it, the more dramatic it gets.
Our thoughts begin to weave a lovely little “woe is me” story inside our brains. So what was once a disturbing incident, becomes a personal slight against you. Our egos love to rally behind our habit of complaining because it tells our ego that it is right. And when we give our ego that amount of power, we remain in a state of feeling like a little child, because our egos are always trying to protect us.
Once our egos are turned inward, and use this justification to earn a stronger voice inside your head, we begin to spiral downward, because we become in practice of indulging this ego of ours, so that we perceive the world through the eyes of a hurt, woeful child, instead of the emotionally intelligent adults that we could be.
Complaining is a symptom of the turmoil that is going on inside your head. If you want to quit the habit of complaining (and thus, alter your victimhood state in your mind), you must begin to become extremely intentional about the voice that you listen to, on the inside.
Focus On The Good Stuff
To quit the habit of complaining, you must be willing to do two things:
- Check your ego
- Create a trigger to cut the complaint habit
Checking your ego is extremely important. In the wise words of Ice Cube, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.” If you do not make it a point to challenge your ego, you will be succumbing to the emotional power that it tries to have over you. The dangers of this, of course, is that left unchecked, you will continuously indulge in self-pitying behavior which will also, always keep your focus on yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It’s ok to experience pain in your thoughts. Usually, that pain is a symptom of a deeper wound or story that has been running its course through your head. And while no one ever likes pain, you can use this feeling, or the noticing of your complaints, to pinpoint WHY you feel so hurt in the first place.
Your WHY is what we are really after, dude. To quit complaining, while significant in and of itself, will only serve you for so long. To truly experience healing, and to be able to experience a beautiful and happy life, you must be willing to solve this lifetime of hurt and suffering that you feel on the inside. This pain, is the root of all complaints.
When you start to feel the need for complaining, you must check your ego, by questioning it. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel so hurt by this person?” Or “Why does it bother me so much, when my sister comes over and starts cleaning my house for me?” In a situation like this, for example, chances are, your ego is using the act of your sister cleaning, to mask the deeper painful relationship that you have with your sister. And by complaining about it, you focus on that surface level pain, because complaining is a temporary fix, instead of addressing the real issue (like you have always been jealous of your sister because she was move loved by your parents.)
We all carry these limiting beliefs in our thoughts. But do not be fooled by them. They do not serve us, just as complaining does not heal us.
If you want to begin to feel happier and to experience a more fulfilled life, I will challenge you to notice how much you complain, and why you complain. Use your pain, or your complaints, to ferret out why you feel the need to focus on the negativity. In this way, you can begin to cut complaints out of your day-to-day habits and start to focus on the great things you do have, instead of what makes you miserable.
As you do this, you will begin to shift your focus away from pain, and into joy.
OK like I said, I got this idea from Tim Ferris, when he did a 21 day “no complaint” challenge. The following is my interpretation of his challenge to not complain for 21 days.
The objective is straightforward: do not complain. Ever.
NOTE: It took me months and months to be able to go 21 days without complaining. I thought it would be easy, but I SHOCKED MYSELF when I realized, how many times per day I did complain or say something negative/unnecessary.
With that said, the first time I ever did this action steps, I lasted three days there That’s it. So if you are finding this difficult, don’t stress. Just try again. This is a practice, not a perfection race.
- Find a piece of jewelry for yourself (I suggest a bracelet or ring so that you can always see it)
- Start wearing your jewelry on your right arm
- Now, try not to complain for as long as you can.
- If you complain, you must switch the bracelet (or ring) to your left hand, and start the game over.
- The end goal is to go 7 days without having to switch your bracelet to the other side (aka to not complain for 7 days)
- SIDE NOTE: Tim Ferriss does this challenge for 21 days so that he can make it a true habit. So if you want to go longer than my challenge (7 days) please feel free. But 7 days is a smaller goal, and I want you to be inspired to keep going for it!
- Have fun with this. This isn’t a gateway for you to beat yourself up every time you have to switch your bracelet. This is just a simple way to make you cognizant of how much you do complain, so you can catch yourself, and eventually kick the habit!