I was talking to my accountability partner Red earlier today about a few challenges I was facing. Like most people, I had a lot on my plate and I thought Red ought to know about it (in excruciating detail).
He didn’t provide a shoulder to cry on and he didn’t attack me for being a whiner either. Instead, he told me about his wife’s decision to give up complaining for Lent. It was Red’s subtle way of telling me to cut it out. When I understood what he was saying it stung a little. But ultimately I was glad he provided the proverbial kick in the arse.
We started talking about the power of giving up complaining and it was inspiring. In fact, the more we spoke about it, the easier it was for me to see how costly this nasty little habit really is.
Complaining emasculates us. It’s emotional quicksand that we create for ourselves. And it can be deadly.
When we complain about someone or something it puts all our energy into the problem and we have little strength left to work on a solution. That keeps us stuck. We surrender all our power. We can’t create a different outcome because we are convinced that someone or something else is to blame and keeping us down. We accept the lie that we are simply unable to do anything about our problem.
Let’s do an exercise together. Think about the last three times you complained. What was your beef? Who did what to you? What did this cost you? How did their actions hurt you? Write your answers down please. You’ll be happy you did.
Now comes the hard work. Next to each answer you provided, write down how you contributed to the problem.
- If someone sold you an investment that turned out badly, did you contribute to this problem by failing to do your homework? Did you have inappropriate expectations? Did you ignore the risks that were explained?
- If you are stuck in a dead end job, did you make bad decisions about what to study in school or what jobs to take after graduation?
- If your spouse is AWOL when it comes to being a good financial partner, did you draw clear boundaries and do you stick to them?
- If you aren’t where you want to be financially, did you create a financial plan? Are you sticking to it? Are you tracking your spending? Are you educating yourself about how investments work?
As you can see, in most cases, we contribute to our problems. Sometimes we play a big part and other times our contributions are miniscule compared to the wrongs others have done. But there is always a part that we contribute to our own difficulties.
This exercise is not a tool for you to use to beat yourself up with. Quite the contrary. The ultimate goal is to empower you and set you free from the prison that complaining keeps you locked away in.
Once you stop complaining and are truly honest about your contribution to the predicament you find yourself in, forgive yourself. Then, forgive the other party. You (and they) are only human and humans make mistakes. But don’t stop there please.
Study that list of how you contributed to the problems. What patterns do you see? What can you learn? What will you do differently to make sure those same problems don’t repeat themselves? This is where the magic happens friend.
When you stop complaining, you unleash unimaginable power to change your life and circumstances. That’s because you focus on the only thing you have some control over – yourself.
For the next week, try not to complain out loud. Write your resentments down and remember to jot down your part in the problem. My guess is that if you go through this exercise you’ll experience an amazing shift in your life and ability to move forward through problems. I’m in. Are you?