“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” ~ Zig Ziglar
“Remember, you and you alone are responsible for maintaining your energy. Give up blaming, complaining and excuse making, and keep taking action in the direction of your goals – however mundane or lofty they may be.” ~ Jack Canfield
Gripe, moan, and complain. At first these things feel like delicious ways to deal with problems and stressors. They easily relieve the feeling and you get a jolt of comradery and support. What could be bad about that?
Unfortunately, these actions start like Pleasure Island in the Pinocchio story – wonderful and dreamy until they turn ugly and disastrous.
Have you crossed over and been caught up in a complaining whirlpool? Does this behavior no longer give you the support and relief it once did, but now you don’t know how to break free? Are people starting to avoid you, tired of your constant moaning and endless negative conversations about your family, your boss, and your life?
Fortunately, there is a 3-step process to break this cycle. Reclaim the power you were seeking in the first place and face head on the situations and people you’ve been only complaining about.
- Acknowledge Your Gripes
First of all, acknowledge there is something going on with you and that is why you are griping. There is a feeling you are feeling that you’ve been avoiding. Find that feeling because that is where your inner power comes from. The power you thought you were generating from complaining only fuels the whirlpool, so you stay stuck in the same old merry-go-round. By stepping out of the spinning and looking at the situation from a neutral place you can really see what’s going on for you.
- Get It Out Once and For All
So how do you break free from the pull of the whirlpool? By getting out of the vortex. Here’s an exercise to get you up and out of your spinning.
Get a clean sheet of paper and write down all your gripes about one situation. Just soak it with your snide comments, your hurts, your resentments, basically everything you’ve been swimming in. Pour everything out – like a drowning person coughing up water, the more you can get out, the more calm and powerful you will be in the next step.
- Swim with Authority
The problem with your complaining whirlpool is it takes all your energy just to stay above water so you don’t get anywhere and you end up exhausted.
Now that you’ve gotten all that old water out of your system and escaped the vortex, you can powerfully swim in calm waters.
Now get another sheet of paper and ask yourself what’s really going on for you? Approach the situation like a neutral third party. Write what is, how you feel about the situation, and what needs to shift for you.
For example, maybe your brother is late to every family meal. This really burns your cookies because being late seems disrespectful to you and when people disrespect you that means war.
You know you’re caught in a whirlpool of complaining if you are making mental notes so you can have a story to tell about what a loser your brother is and how he did it to you again, and on and on and on. Your friends are silently cringing when they hear you are having a family get together because they know the tirade is coming.
So, once you’ve gotten all your anger and resentment out on paper, get a clean sheet and ask yourself, “What’s really going on”?
What actually happens is your brother doesn’t show up at the agreed upon time. That’s what is. You’ve arbitrarily picked 6pm and he misses that mark. That’s all.
The rest you’ve overlaid based on your personal set of wounds. You’ve made being late equal disrespect. So how do you free yourself? Decide what shifts need to happen for you.
Maybe you start at 6pm and when he gets there he gets there. Maybe you stop inviting him. Maybe you accept the fact that he’s doing the best he can but he’s always late for everything and it’s not personal. Maybe you discuss with him in a calm manner why it’s important to you to have him in your life and important to you that he arrive on time and ask how you can help with that?
Regardless of the actions you take, the imperative thing is now you are in action instead of endless reaction. Your power can be channel toward a solution instead of fueling an endless cycle of complaints.
Try this exercise – it works. Choose a small, constant gripe you have and address it. Face your fear and your helplessness by swimming toward a solution. Once you break free from the grip of this whirlpool you will be amazed at how much of your own power is available to you.