Day 8 of 30 – No Complaining

I can’t say that I was perfect. Man-o-man did I slip up more than once. I caught myself on the phone complaining to a co-worker about my salary. With so many people losing their jobs, I decided to stop myself in mid-sentence and I changed the topic. It may not be the perfect job, but at least I work with good people.

No complaining has been harder than I expected because it’s a part of how I communicate with my co-workers. I don’t think all complaining is bad – far from it. The reason I started this 30 day trial was to become more aware of my thoughts and actions and see if I might want to implement “no complaining” into the rest of my life.

I’m wavering on this at the moment. I can see how no complaining has improved my mood, but I can also see a loss of connection with other people. Just the other day a fellow co-worker was complaining about the spending habits of the company. I totally agreed and was ready to give my own example, but I couldn’t. All I could do was empathize with her.

The conversation died and we were left in silence until I brought up college football. That’s what was cool about no complaining; it took our conversation in a more positive direction.

I’m not going to rush to make a decision on whether to stay with no complaining forever. I’m going to wait until the 30 days is up then make my choice.

The Signals We Send Out

In the past, when I complained about having to do a report I was reinforcing the negative. My thoughts were focused on why the situation wasn’t living up to my expectations. I was signaling to myself and others that I wanted to be lazy. Side Note: Laziness isn’t all bad in moderate doses.

Complaining signals to people how we want to be treated. The problem with complaining is that it shows people what we don’t want instead of encouraging them to give us what we need.

I tried a little twist in the way I signal my co-workers during a conversation. Instead of complaining about a crappy task, I graciously accepted it then asked for something in return. Of course I don’t always do this, only when the moment feels right.

This is how I was able to maneuver some of my duties to be outside of the office, like speaking to high school students about financial literacy. I didn’t realize that I had been doing this over the past few years. Now that I’m becoming more conscious of my complaining, it has been easier to communicate my needs.

When I graciously accepted the project and signaled that I also wanted to try something new I was showing my boss that I was a team player, but also wanted something fun to work on. He got the hint and now I’m helping create the structure of my day instead of just doing as I’m told.

Internal Complaining

For the past couple of days as I was getting ready for work I was internally complaining about getting out from underneath the warm covers, standing on the cold tile floor in the bathroom, and how I needed more time to do Yoga before work.

I watched this happen since the beginning of this 30 day trial. The funny thing is I knew it was there, but I’ve gotten so used to my complaining that it took a few days for me to really be honest with myself and admit that I was complaining.

Once I noticed this internal whining I stopped feeding into it and took action. Two mornings ago I ripped off the covers and tried to enjoy the feeling. Way too shocking. Nothing but negatives were popping out of my thoughts. I tried a different technique this past morning.

I slowly inched the covers off and let the cool air envelope my skin. This technique worked. My senses weren’t overloaded and I had time to adjust and figure out the little nuances of the experience.

To solve the cold tile problem, I just put on my slippers. An easy solution that I had previously ignored because I just loved complaining instead of doing something about it.

I still couldn’t find enough time for my Yoga, well… not as much as I wanted. It was my fault. I had decided to send out a couple of emails, accept comments, and comment on a few blogs. I accepted that these choices were made instead of doing Yoga. By accepting my decisions I stopped creating conflict. Just because I wasn’t able to do Yoga doesn’t mean I wasn’t making good use of my time.

I’m the youngest in the family and those of you who are the youngest probably understand what I’m talking about. We’re used to getting what we want.

By-product of the No Complaining Challenge

My mood has significantly improved. I don’t think I would be able to see much of a difference if I just took notes at the end of each day. I would be missing the moment to moment improvements. By staying aware of these moments I’ve readjusted my thinking, which has helped me see what the “no complaining” challenge was really doing for me.

I’ve been able to sustain a more “even” emotional level. For example, I would usually get frustrated if I couldn’t get an email finished the way I expected. I would leave my chair, go to the bathroom and come back with a fresh take on my writing. This hasn’t happened as much. I’ve stopped my internal complaining about not meeting my expectations and accepted that the email is what it is. Since it wasn’t perfect I just slowed down and started rereading at the beginning, making sure I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of all the development I’ve cultivated over these past couple of years, but whatever the case, this “no complaining” trial has raised my emotional development to a new level.

To break it all down, the only difference between me before and after my week of “no complaining” is my awareness. I’m still internally complaining, but I’m not feeding into these thoughts. The thought comes in and I begin to play with it. I bat it around, laugh at it then see if I can turn it into something that I can enjoy.

Complaining is not an evil habit, it’s just a way for your mind to grab attention. If you give attention to the complaint and then give your mind something more positive to work with, you can use complaining as a tool to increase awareness of your thoughts and feelings. It has helped my emotional intelligence grow stronger and I know it will help you be able to create the experience you want instead of letting the situation dictate your feelings.

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Image courtesy of ssstok

11 thoughts on “Day 8 of 30 – No Complaining”

  1. Good on your, Karl, for admitting where you’ve slipped up over the week. I think this is a real key to success – realizing where we’re “off” and making adjustments. Complaining is an easy one to let slip in, especially when we hear others doing it – jumping on the bandwagon is too easy. I think I mentioned when you started this how it brought out in me that I have a lot of internal complaining I do – which you made me realize. I’ve really been working on this. It’s still easy to slip up, however, I think I have gotten better. When I find myself complaining to myself – I try to stop it and change the words in my head to be more proactive – as in what, if anything, can I do about the situation. If I can do something – the I either should do it, or at least not complain – since I have a choice. And if I can’t do anything, then I am best to still put the complaints aside, and fill my head with more positive thoughts.

    Easier said than done – although I’m finding that as I do this, I do have a more positive external outlook as well…

    Good luck, Karl, as you continue down this path! I’m enjoying seeing what you’re learning along the way…

    Lance’s last blog post..Let’s All Just Let It Flow

  2. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

    I love the line about enjoying complaining – so many people stay in a negative place because they get so much out of it.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Dedicate Yourself to Life, Not Work

  3. I love this!

    One of my former managers put me on a ‘negative thought diet’ for a week and I have to say, it was an amazing and intense experience.

    Kudos to you for sharing and keep it up 🙂

    Anittah Patrick’s last blog post..Twenty Steps to Career Bliss

  4. I’ve done a week at a time to really focus on no complaining (a challenge from my Church) so I know how incredibly hard it is. I certainly it a lot more around me in others and myself as well from doing that challenge and even though I haven’t any near eliminated complain, it is definitely less frequent than it ever was. Good work so far and I too, have enjoyed reading your experience doing this!

    Mike King’s last blog post..6 Steps to Pull Yourself Out of a Slump

  5. Hey Arswino, 90 days? I don’t know about that. I’ll see how I’m feeling after 30.

    Hey Lance, watching for the internal complaining has been the biggest eye opener. We all do it, but to actually curb it will help us stay more positive.

    Hi Alex, when we attach to our complaining we rely on it to make us feel better.

    Hi Annittah, stop back in and give us your thoughts again.

    Hi Mike, I haven’t come close to eliminating my complaining either, but I have reduced it a lot and replaced it with more positive thoughts and emotions.

    Hi Clem, give it a try.

  6. Hi Karl: I think it’s great that you’re documenting this experiment. It’s interesting that by not complaining you’ve started to train your mind to look for solutions to problems instead of going off on a pointless rant about what’s wrong with each situation.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Fun, Whimsical Gift Ideas for Creative People

  7. This is a very nice article on complaining. The really nice thing about complaining is that it does not force you to change anything. You remain in a very comfortable zone and it is other people’s or the terrible time’s fault.

    If you find yourself complaining I recommend thinking about your goals for life. If the issue you were complaining about is not relevant to your goals – stop it or just enjoy complaining – it must be a minor issue to you.

    If it is relevant to your goals for life s- stop immediately and start doing something about it.

    I recently wrote an article on how to set your goals for life in my Time Management Master blog in case you are interested to learn more about it.

    Nicolas’s last blog post..Remove temptation when changing habits

  8. This is something I’ve noticed with my coworkers and myself! It is amazing how deteriorating those negative thoughts are on the workplace. If taken to a frequent level, this will definitely be an issue to your boss and will not look good on your review!

  9. hey, Karl: and WOW–this is remarkable. I wonder if your increasing awareness will take you from verbal complaining, to internal complaining and further into physical complaining–which maybe the yoga will help with. Notice if the moratorium sends you slumping, sighing, or energetically kicking like Stuart on MADTV. . .would be curious.

    Totally rockstar behavior. Keep up the great work.

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