Let’s make a pact right here and now… no more complaining! No one likes being around a “complainer”, yet we all do it. Here’s the deal: Complaining is something we do when we’re in a situation or relationship that feels uncomfortable, irritating or out right awful and we feel helpless to do anything about it. It’s a way we “let off some steam” from these emotions which gives us some relief and a sense of power back. But, it’s only temporary relief and a false sense of power. Complaining affords us enough relief to be able to stay in the current situation and suffer a little longer (or much longer). This is when we usually complain that we feel stuck!
Instead of seeking relief from the discomfort, what if you let yourself just feel uncomfortable? In yoga we call this, tapas; a willingness to experience discomfort in order to transform and grow. Any time we are being challenged or pushed beyond our current ideas of ourselves or what we think is possible it is uncomfortable. Discomfort is a sign that something is too small for us and needs to change. And be sure, the thing that usually needs changing is not the situation, our boss, our partner or the guy in front of us on the road… it’s US! Those other things may change too, but unless the changes are initiated within us we will simply put ourselves in another similar situation with similar people.
Be careful not to use this tool as a spiritual bypass. It’s not that you lie to yourself and pretend everything is rainbows and chocolate cake. Rather, you allow yourself to feel the discomfort fully. It’s amazing how creative we can be once we get to the point where we feel like we have suffered enough!
Here’s the trick: complaining is something other people do. When we do it, we call it venting. So here’s the rule… after you’ve vented about a situation/ person more than three times it’s officially complaining. Instead of complaining a fourth time, challenge yourself to sit with the emotions and listen to the stories you’re telling yourself with compassionate curiosity. Ask yourself: What am I being given the opportunity to learn here? How can I grow from this situation? What am I afraid of? Let the discomfort reveal you to yourself. Turn your attention from “them” to you; to the only place you truly have power.