I’ve learned more about my habits of thought during my thirty day “No Complaining” challenge than I have in the last six months – such an intense microscope on one area of my life. “No Complaining” forced positive change. The deeper I looked at how complaining affected my life, the easier it was to use this wisdom to my advantage.
I posted 7 articles about my No Complaining journey, each one giving a little different insight than the last:
30 days of no complaining was so intensely interesting that I’m going to do more of these 30 day challenges. I haven’t cured myself of complaining. Far from it. I’ve actually become more convinced of the importance of complaining. We all know the basic methods of complaining.
- Whining (The worst form of complaining)
- Complaining to create laughter (A skill that most comedians have perfected)
- Complaining to share experiences (Excellent social tool)
- Complaining to probe (This form of complaining allows you to informally protest. If people agree they will join in. Then you know that you are of like mind.)
- Complaining to take action (Maybe my favorite form of complaining. We all need to vent about stress and problems in our lives. The idea is that we put ourselves out there to others, which means that we state an informal complaint. Now that other people know what’s bothering us, it’s up to us to take action. That may mean changing the situation or just letting it go and not complaining about it any longer.)
I’ve never met a person who didn’t complain in some way. They might not come out whining about what’s wrong with their life, but they will make judgments.
A father may say, “I wish my daughter would try harder at her school work.” He may say it in a loving way, but we all know it’s a small complaint. He might say this to a friend in passing and his friend might say that he has a similar problem with his son. They talk about it and bond. Maybe they even come up with a solution. The solution isn’t as important as the bonding because as most people know teenage daughters and sons do what they want to do, not what their fathers want.
If that father complains about his daughter to everyone, that’s just whining. He isn’t trying to bond, create laughter, probe or take action. He just wants everyone to feel his misery.
Rephrasing of Language
It all comes down to how you phrase your language. I might say, “I don’t feel like going to work today. I’m tired. My job doesn’t give me any incentive to work hard.” This is just whining. If I rephrase it and say, “I’ve been working really hard on this project and I need a break.” Then we start to turn the complaining into something more positive. If I rephrase it again and say, “Going to work is probably not the best choice for me right now, but I need to work on this important project.” Then we get into more of a “sharing complaining” territory.
You could say in a boisterous voice, “I’m going to work today and even though I’m tired, I’m going to accomplish great work.” It doesn’t sound so much like complaining, but reinforcing a positive state of mind. We all know it’s still complaining, but it’s a lot easier to handle for the people who have to listen.
I was surprised by how rephrasing my complaining in a more positive light changed the attitude of the people around me as well as my attitude. Many situations have become a little easier to enjoy. My wife sure finds it easier to listen to me.
We all have been around complainers who just wreck the mood of the office. I didn’t want to fall into that trap, so I put my thoughts, emotions and actions under the blogging microscope.
In my own head, I noticed that I would complain about doing easy and hard tasks. There wasn’t a task that I liked. I wasn’t interacting with my external elements in an intelligent way.
I was hating for the sake of hating. I did this because I didn’t want to impede my dream. I wanted to create my own business. I tried to hate all my jobs so I would keep my focus on the big goal. As I began to reduce and rephrase my complaining into a more positive direction I noticed another impediment – my fear. I’ve been afraid to make mistakes.
I hate making mistakes because it makes me feel embarrassed and scared. Afraid to lose my job and lose face to my co-workers. The ego doesn’t like to feel inferior, at least mine doesn’t. This isn’t a bad thing unless it locks the person up, rendering them unable to take action.
I was sabotaging my own motivation.
What if I tried really hard and the project didn’t work? It was easier to stay out of the game and watch from the sidelines, judging everyone else.
By complaining, I was putting the blame on external things instead of myself. By noticing this habit, I’ve been able to lean into my fear and not let it decide my actions. After becoming more aware of my thoughts and emotions, I’ve learned that if I don’t give in to my fears, I could choose actions that may be scary at first, but they would reap greater rewards in the end.
The more successful you become, the easier it will be to enjoy your job.
My Two Favorite Methods When Trying to Reduce Complaining:
1. If a complaint pops out, I try to redirect my thoughts toward something positive.
Ex. “Arrgh, why do I have to do this report over? I wish they would make up their minds.”
Instead I would say
“Okay, they might not be right, but I don’t know all the reasons behind their decisions. I’ll redo this report and also take mental notes on how I would handle this situation. When I become an owner/manager I won’t make the same mistakes.”
We have to figure out a way to use the experience to improve our skills. That way we don’t feel powerless.
2. Rephrasing a complaint before it pops out.
Ex. “Arrgh, why do I have to do this report over?”
“Hmm, it’s interesting that they want me to do this report over.”
A simple turnaround of a complaint or a rephrase can make the difference between staying angry or letting the anger go and finding a way to enjoy the situation.
“No Complaining” for thirty days made me aware of many areas of my thoughts and emotions that were invisible before this challenge. This month has given me the most personal improvement I’ve seen all year. It helps to take a microscope to your inner thoughts. I’ve taken my work happiness to a whole new level. I’m contemplating my next thirty day challenge – any suggestions?
What do you struggle with at your job? What type of 30 day challenge could you try that would help you?
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