The Complain Game, Ego's Favorite Way to Stay STUCK
Part of this journey we're on involves moving past ourselves. We're in our own way. How often do you complain about things or people? When you do this you're playing the role of victim. It also means your ego is in charge during those moments. If the ego is in charge, and if you're a victim, how far can you expect to go on your journey? It'll look like a car giving out of gas. Stop, start, stop, start. Mostly stop, on the side of the road, going nowhere fast.
Eckhart's book, The Power of Now, has a fascinating section on complaining (whether in our heads or out loud). He referred to it as creating psychic pollution. He says complaints carry a negative energy charge. Instead of complaining, we can do one of three things: take action, speak out if necessary or possible, or leave the situation/accept it. Eckhart says all else is madness.
Quickly, name the #1 thing on your mental gripe list. What have you been mulling over in your head or verbalizing? Was it work? Your spouse's behavior? Your teenager's attitude? Your toddler's tantrums?
By complaining, you've put yourself in the role of victim. You feel like you can't change anything, you give yourself permission to be helpless, miserable, and stuck. Do you really want your life to play out like this? Do you feel joy and happiness when you complain? Of course not. You feel unhappy. So let's change it.
Think back to the #1 thing you've been unhappy about lately. If it's your toddler's tantrums, can you stop them by speaking out? No. Can you change the situation? Yes, you can walk away, get your spouse to take over, etc. Can you accept it? Yes. Make your choice and move on. Life is too short, y'all.
By accepting the situation, you surrender. Surrender is a beautiful way of choosing to let go of misery. Choosing happiness. Choosing to stop waging a war in your mind about how much you don't like what's going on. Choosing to no longer be a victim. By letting go, you're back in the driver's seat. You're no longer stuck in this cycle.
I'll give you an example. My husband snores. It drives me insane. I use present tense because I'm being honest about how much I don't like this situation even in this moment. My dear hubby is tired of me complaining about it and I'm tired of hearing myself complain. My sighs and moans about no sleep release negative energy before the day has even started. He feels blamed and becomes defensive, I feel tired and hateful towards him at 1 am, 2 am, etc.
Eckhart says I can take action, speak out or remove myself from the situation (ie, accept it). I've already tried speaking out, that didn't change anything since he's not choosing to snore. If he were doing something he could change, this might be an option.
If I choose to accept his snoring, then it is what it is. I'd surrender to waking up a few times a night and not getting a solid 8 hours of sleep. Or, I can take action and try to change it. I've tried to get him to wear nose strips, he's had an evaluation with the ENT, and we've tried going to bed at different times, avoiding alcohol, etc. Or, I can remove myself from the situation. I could sleep in another bedroom, but we don't have another bedroom. I could sleep on our spare mattress we use for sleepovers. I could sleep on the sofa. In either of those cases, I'd have to own the choice. I'd have to surrender, to let. it. go.
Here's an example straight out of a mom FB group: My in-laws won't wear masks. They don't believe in COVID and they're having a big birthday party for my MIL. I know they won't wear masks. Lots of people are invited. My kids really want to go because she's promised a bouncy house. My husband is torn. I feel anger towards the entire family for not caring about anyone's health but their own and they don't even seem to care about theirs.
This Mama was hot to trot. She included a lot more details, but this was the gist of it. Here are her options: 1) Speak up 2) Accept it (this could mean not going but not getting emotionally hot and bothered about it, or she could accept it and go to the party but not hold grudges about choices the family makes). 3) She could change the situation (ask if the party could be held virtually, ask if they could host the party--my house, my rules, or they could rent their own bouncy house and wish grandma happy birthday from afar) Exercise to Release Your Gripes and Stop Being a Victim:
Make 4 columns on a sheet of paper.
In the first column make a list of your biggest miseries. Go ahead, dump them out on paper. Include things you find irksome, things you complain about, things you frequently wish were different. Include spoken and unspoken complaints.
Label the second column "Take Action", the third "Speak out if necessary or possible" and the fourth "leave the situation or accept it"
Go through each situation and write down what a person in this scenario might do if they were going to take action. By using third person, you're more likely to brainstorm solutions. Our brains shut down when we're asking ourselves how we can take action because we're perfectly prepared to stand our ground for eternity. Likewise, ask yourself if someone in this situation was going to speak out, what might they say? Finally, get quiet and honestly evaluate what might it look like if you were to totally accept this situation and let go of the complaining? How would that feel? Would it feel better than getting worked up bathing in the negative emotion?
You can also search past blog posts on Byron Katie's method for doing a similar exercise, or look her up online. She has videos of people doing these "letting go" exercises. It's shocking to see the mindset shift occur in their faces and body postures.