Big or little, voiced or silent, major upsets or minor irritations Have you ever noticed how much time and mental energy you spend complaining? Or how tense and uncomfortable it leaves you feeling? Complain long enough and you can end up feeling cynical and resigned to the fact that things will never change.
WHY DO WE COMPLAIN?
We are taught at a very young age that there are right and wrong ways to do things, and good and bad ways to act. So, when something happens, our first tendency is to decide if the action is good or bad, and who’s right or wrong. Consequently, when something happens that we don’t enjoy, or someone does something different than we asked, or says something we don’t like, we judge them as inappropriate, and their actions as unacceptable.
We do this in an attempt to keep ourselves safe. If we are able to justify our position about being right–figure out why the other person is the one that’s wrong–there will be no reason for other people to judge us.
All these internal judgments inevitably turn into complaints, and we end up spending our time complaining to ourselves about the situation or the person involved. However, because complaining actually makes us feel badand, as human beings, what we want most is to feel good–we end up sharing our complaints with other people. Our hope is that if we talk to others about our complaint they will agree with us and we will feel better.
COMPLAINING TO OTHERS?
Complaining to someone else tends to go one of two ways: Either they agree and start complaining along with us so we both feel tense and agitated, or else they may disagree and have ideas of their own. When they disagree, often the other person will form judgments against us and end up having their own complaints about listening to our complaint. Either way, complaining to one another very rarely supports either person in feeling any better. Also, when you’re spending your time complaining–either to yourself or to someone else–you’re not in action doing anything to fix the situation that caused the complaint.
“Realize that if you have time to complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”
~ Anthony D’Angelo
We have gotten so good at complaining about what happens, we tend to miss seeing the reality of the situation. When we keep our attention focused on blaming, judging, and complaining, it keeps us from being able to see just the facts of the situation. It becomes impossible for us to separate the reality from all our judgments and stories about what has happened.
“There is a gap or a space between stimulus and response, and the key to both our growth and happiness is how we use that space.”
~ Steven Covey
WHAT’S THE HIDDEN VALUE IN YOUR COMPLAINT?
What if every complaint occurred to you as an opening to identify what’s important to you, and an opportunity to get in action creating things the way you want them to be?
We believe that every complaint is an incomplete expression of a deeply held value. Your complaints can be the keys to your happiness when you have the skills to use a complaint to unlock the judgments holding your values captive.
When things happen that are in harmony with your values, you enjoy what happens. When you arent enjoying a situation, it means that something you value is missing. Complaining about others, or yourself, only serves to distract you from the things that you value and puts you at the mercy of your circumstances.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
5 KEYS FOR TURNING COMPLAINTS INTO SELF-GUIDANCE
1) Download our free Values worksheet to help you identify what you value.
2) The next time you hear yourself complaining, stop and ask yourself, How would I describe what happened if I didn’t have any complaints or judgments about it? You can do this by pretending you are a video camera, what would the camera see?
3) Using the Values worksheet, identify what’s important to you that is missing from the situation. Some examples would include statements like: “I really want to have more FUN when I visit my family” or “I’m so tense and I want to feel more at PEACE when I come home after work.”
4) Ask yourself, How would this situation be different if what was important to me–what I value–was present in the situation?
5) Finally, ask yourself, What can – I – do in this moment to help create what I want most in this situation?
Be the change you wish to see in the world
BE AN EXPRESSION OF WHAT YOU VALUE