Several years ago, I was dating a man I thought was pretty swell…, there were just a few minor things…
Whenever my girlfriend and I got together for coffee or lunch, I would tell her my “man troubles.” She listened patiently, gave me a word or two of advice and then we’d move on to other things, only to circle back to my romantic problems again. Like I said, she was patient.
Needless to say, that relationship didn’t work out. When I told my friend that I’d broken it off, she said, “Good, I thought he was a jerk.”
“You did?” I said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I thought you knew,” she said. “You complained about him all the time.”
Your friends and family hear you loud and clear when you moan and whine about a person, place or thing you’re struggling with. Unfortunately, the emotions you have wrapped up in the situation cloud your ability to hear what others hear when you complain.
Switch places with anyone, give them your circumstance, and your response would be night and day different.
The thing you complain about to others the most is the one thing in your life that you absolutely must change. Not because your friends don’t want to hear about it or support you, but because it’s eating you up inside.
A complaint is a lie you tell yourself. It is the one problem you pretend is manageable, but it’s not. If it were, you wouldn’t be trying to get other people to take it on. Complaining is procrastination fueled by fear – fear of what might happen if we change things.
Whatever the complaint might be, a person who challenges you, a job you’ve outgrown, a living space you can’t tolerate anymore, it’s demanding your attention. Dealing with it requires a leap of faith. It requires you to believe in yourself that you CAN handle it. The fact that you feel the urge to change indicates that you can manage whatever comes as a result – and from my experience it’s almost always better.
Complaining seems harmless in the moment – it gives us something dramatic and full of emotional energy to talk about. But it’s actually disempowering. When we complain to our friends, we place the responsibility to solve our problems in their hands, as if we’re not capable of figuring things out on our own. When I used to complain to my girlfriend about my “bad boyfriend” I never felt resolved. In fact, I usually left feeling worse about it – hopeless, in a way.
I can’t imagine how it made her feel…
The truth is, making a change around something that’s giving us grief can be tough, otherwise we would have already taken care of business. But acknowledging what your constant complaints are signaling to you is an important first step. The moment when you decide to listen with an open mind to what your heart is telling you, then freedom is on the way. When you recognize that change is inevitable, your complaints can give way to excitement about something new and better lurking right around the corner, right on the other side of your discontent.
photo credit: http://www.personalcreations.com/