May 16, 2013

My thoughts on complaining

I've been thinking about this for most of the day.  The topic of complaining, that is.

I feel as though I have a right to talk about this because I have complained many times in my own life and continue to have ample opportunity to complain - probably on a daily basis.  I recognize it in my life and understand how it has affected me, personally.

*And before I get into it, I should post a disclaimer. I am not judging anyone. I'm not trying to change you. I don't think you're stupid. I don't think I'm perfect - I KNOW I'm not. I don't think I know it all. I'm just a thinker. And sometimes I like to think "out loud". I hope that I can bring encouragement and help to someone who maybe needs to read this right now. There. I said it.

I hear people complain constantly.  I "hear" it on social networks. I hear it in the grocery store, in the bank lineup, and at moms' groups. Pretty-much anywhere there are people, you will hear some sort of mild or severe form of complaining. It's a sickness, really.  ;)

It fascinates me that we complain so much and that it's so easy to do. Why?

Even though we live these rich lives of abundance, we can still complain?  How?

I'm not scolding, by any means, just simply asking.  I'm asking myself and I'm asking you.

In my inner coaching session today (haha), this is what I came up with:

When you complain, and/or secretly wish for someone elses situation, you hinder yourself from fully embracing, experiencing and growing in your own situation.

Complaining stops you in your tracks.  It keeps you focused on a place you don't want to be, and therefore does not allow you to move away from it.  It's like a lose-lose situation - a ratwheel of sorts.  You don't like your current circumstance, so you complain about it, then you think about how you don't like it some more, then you wallow in self-pity and complain some more.  Finally, you are distracted (by the complaining) when the opportunity comes along to get you out of the circumstance, or to see the good in the current one. You begin the cycle again.

Complaining pushes people away from you.
Thing is, you kinda need people to help you move along through life.  We are always helping, encouraging, and pushing eachother to move forward - that's how a support circle works.  If complaining is your habit, you could be unknowingly repelling the very people you need in your life to help you succeed.  Plus, they are missing out on the great things you have to offer in helping them through life. All because you're too preoccupied with verbalizing your distaste.

Once you're in the habit of complaining, it doesn't matter how good your situation is, you will FIND something to be unhappy with.  We all have the opportunity and maybe even temptation to complain.  But if we choose this negative reaction, and choose it again time after time, it can quickly become our default reaction. And then we don't even know when we're complaining.  It becomes masked and we think we're just "opinionated".  We all know someone like this.  You know what I'm talking about (don't act like you don't) - no matter how hard you try to help them see the bright side, they dig until they find something negative. And aren't they just peachy to be around? No. No, they're not. They are exhausting.

Ridding yourself of complaining is not only about changing your perspective.
It goes much deeper than that.  This became so clear to me today as I mulled over these ideas.
Have you ever complained about something minor, and then corrected yourself by thinking about someone who is worse-off than you? This "puts things into perspective", right?
Ummmm, there are a few things wrong with this, I've discovered.  If seeing someone else's misfortune is the only thing that motivates us to be thankful, that's probably not a good sign.  This type of motivation can leave us in either a puddle of guilt, or a balloon of self-righteousness.
Have you ever thought this? (I know I have):  "I better just be thankful! Thankful I'm not THAT kind of person who would cause herself so much pain like that." (self-righteous), or...."I suck. Look at how I'm complaining about my tiny problem and my friend is going through the trial of her life. I'm a horrible person." (guilt)

Both of these attempts to eliminate a complaining attitude are not that effective in the end, because they are both focused on yourSELF.

So, in my opinion, it's not only about having the right perspective (as we often hear), it's about having a right heart.  A thankful heart.
Thankfulness is always at it's best when it flows from a heart of true gratitude, towards someone else, namely, God. Our hearts are always meant to be directed in thankfulness (worship) towards Him.

I've found that a thankful heart is not an absolute though. Matters and motives of the heart never are. And it's not something you're born with. But once you make the choice to be thankful instead of complaining, (one choice after another) it becomes a habit. A habit of thankfulness will easily turn into a default reaction, ready for whatever situation you're in. You'll feel better, and you'll be able to move on.

I understand I have only scratched the surface of this topic.  but I kind of just wanted to uncover it a bit and get you thinking about how often you complain, and to expose it in your own life.  It is so difficult to know if your heart is in the right place. But thankfully, there is one thing for sure...if your heart is chasing after the one true Living God, Jesus, then you are stuck on a SURE thing. He will help you with the issues of your heart as you get closer to Him.

I'd like to know your thoughts on this topic.  Consider it an open discussion and leave comments here or on facebook.

1 comment:

Julie Karanfilis said...

I've struggled with this my entire life. My up bringing consisted of negativity and complaining unfortunately, and like you mentioned... It was the default thought pattern. Since meetig Peter, I really began to notice just how negative and self-destructive my thoughts and workd were. They crept into every area of my life. At any rate, when light exists... Darkness has a hard time hiding, and over the past 8 years, I have been chipping away at those patterns of thought too. You are so right though... Its a process, and focusing on the blessing and the incredible power of Jesus' life and His giftings within sure work. I have noticed that I cannot have two contrasting thoughts at once. In saying this, I have re-trained my brain (and daily have to remind it) to look for the blessing. And choose joy. Literally, a daily walk. And a daily reminder to replace negativity and complaining with joy, and looking for the blessing. Its a really freeing thing. One area I need to work on is getting together with friends who typically are the "complainers" --- and dealing with that area. Anyway, super love to you and your thoughts. Keep those positive neurons firing!