|Only a flower-strewn path for me for the next week|
I'm not really a whinger. I was never really encouraged to be, as a child. Complaints and grumbles were met with a stark diapproval by parents and grandparents. So in adulthood I manage to maintain a reasonably sunny exterior and try to avoid giving voice to the multitudinous mutterings of discontent that go on in my head 24/7.
In spite of all that, I still think I waste a lot of my time, and my happiness, with complaints voiced and unvoiced. I gossip, I whinge, I condemn others and I find fault. And on reflection not once have those miserable thoughts improved my life. On the contrary I have lost hours and days to dark moods inspired by the emotional and psychological energy I gave to my perceived slights and problems.
I have over the years learned to channel this energy of complaint into more productive and useful outcomes. If there is something that is genuinely bothering me I attempt to bring it to the attention of someone in power who can actually change it. I also do this in a pleasant and casual way. If something has made me angry, or I am expecting a particular outcome, I have learned to give voice to that expectation to the person who can actually make it happen. This helps make matters clearer, and I am always pleased by the outcome. If people know what you want they have a tendency to give it to you. I don't raise my voice or become involved in pointless conflicts and I always choose my battles wisely. I don't do online arguments or Twitter wars. I allow others the right to their own opinions, and I have surrendered the need to constantly prove myself right.
I also do my level best not to tell people when I am feeling ill (I fail regularly at this), and I have stopped telling people I am sooo busy when they ask how I am. Complaint is rarely charming and often boring, and I do still feel the need to please others with my presence.
But STILL I grumble. I get together with friends and bitch, I save up juicy stories of outrage and wrongdoing for when my partner gets home, I wish someone would close that damn door. I recognise, also, that complaints can be directed quite irrationally at particular people, whatever scapegoats we have selected for our own fury. This is unhealthy and unbecoming, and when I indulge in it I always end up feeling so disappointed in myself.
Some years ago I read a fascinating book called A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen and I was most taken with it. His idea was that, every time we complained about something, we should move a rubber bracelet from one wrist to another, so making ourselves conscious of just how often we do it. I tried this, but by mid-moring my wrists were red-raw and all the hair on my forearms had been torn out by the constant tugging off of rubber bracelets. So I gave up and kept on with my complaining ways.
Now, I have been motivated by the wonderful Simple Life Habits podcast I just heard on giving up complaints for a week. So, from now and on through the next 7 days I am giving up comlaints. Not a word of ill-content will pass my lips for 7 whole days. Let's see how I go.