I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a lot to complain about.
My shoes were uncomfortable. My hair was ugly. I didn’t like my pants. My skirt was too long.
My bangs were too short. Nobody talks to me. People won’t leave me alone.
All this complaining leaves a stain on my life. Not to mention it holds me back from all the AMAZING things I want to accomplish.
I’m so frustrated with myself for complaining excessively, and I don’t even complain as much as I USED to. These past few years I’ve been really focused on creating a good life and living in a way I can be proud of. But, I still find myself in the grips of chronic complaining. It can’t be much fun to be around me when I start one of my “observations”. That’s right, I find a way to JUSTIFY my complaints. How else can I live with myself?
I had lunch with my mom recently, and listened to her observations, then I took my turn and did some complaining of my own. She’s as aware of her habit as much as I am of mine, and she’s having the same struggle as me. It’s a difficult habit to break. Maybe someone should start taxing us complainers.
This just proves my point of how pervasive my complaining is. I KNOW it’s a problem, the people around me know it’s a problem, and I’ve spent most of my life trying to stop, with minimal success. I used to blame my partners for not being up to my standards, but now I have an amazing, loving, intelligent, PATIENT husband, and guess what… yeah, that’s right, I complain about HIM!
What I want to know is how do I stop complaining, or more specifically, how do I stop triggering on every little thing I see and turning it into a NEGATIVE thing?
What I realized in my chat with my mom is that the reason I complain is because when I notice something (big or small), my mind immediately goes down the rabbit hole of WORST CASE SCENARIOS. (My mom tells me it’s the same for her.)
I see drops of something sticky spilled on the floor and I envision dirt, crumbs, and hair sticking to it, then I jump to ANTS.
A few dirty dishes in the sink and my mind goes directly to a giant mound of dishes ready to topple and I can’t even find a glass for a little drink of water. I see myself being crushed by an avalanche of Fiesta Ware and dying of thirst, while ants are crawling all over my face. See? Worst Case Scenario because there’s two forks and a plate in the sink.
So, being the helpful, responsible, troubleshooting, let’s-prevent-another-Chernobyl type of person that I am, I find myself pointing these things out to people and expecting them to give as big of a fuck as I do, and, of course, they don’t. They have this reasonableness that I apparently lack.
Try as I might, I can’t let it go like people tell me to. I can’t overlook things or “pick my battles”. I try to keep my mouth shut about little things and before long, I’m so pissed off about them that I blow up and the people around me are shocked and confused about how I could be so angry about this ONE LITTLE THING. They don’t understand that it’s not just ONE little thing. It’s the HUNDRED previous ones that I didn’t mention.
You see, I have two extremes in my awareness:
- I’m oblivious to my surroundings and don’t notice what’s happening in the room, OR…
- I’m hyper-focused on all the little things: the spider climbing the wall, the chunk missing in the tile, the smear of dirt on the cupboard door, how the picture on the wall is just ever-so-slightly crooked, AND the waste and inefficiency of how someone is performing a task. Add to that, my jeans are a little tight, my contacts are drying my eyes out, and you expect me to be OKAY that we’re out of SALSA?!?! GAHHH!!!!
I try to relieve the pressure of all these tidbits building up inside me by pointing out… or as I like to say, “make an observation” about… the steps people must take to prevent disaster. This is just how my brain works. When some detail bothers me, I then have to either correct it, or have someone else correct it, and this, my friend, is how NAGS are born.
This is hurtful in SOOOO many ways! Not just to myself and my serenity, but to my loved ones and all the people around me. Soon, they’re all walking on eggshells, worried that the next thing they do (or DON’T do) will be the one that triggers my angry tears.
The most difficult part of all of this is when other people think it’s THEIR fault, and it’s not. I could be living on a mountain top, and I’d be pissy about something. Do you hear me, my lovely children? It was NEVER your fault.
So, what’s the answer?
I’m not really sure, but I’m working on it. The thing is, I’m pretty sure the answer is right in front of me and I’m on the verge of breaking through to it, because it feels like it’s all coming to a head.
- The answer is NOT “ignore it”. Ignoring the things I notice causes me to explode.
- Voicing my feelings about it, just makes me a nag.
- Being grateful for what I have…??
Yeah, the answer is in there somewhere, it’s just not completely formed. I’ve worked hard to up my gratefulness quotient. The fact is, I can be grateful as hell!
There’s more to it than that, and I’m sure it has a lot to do with my internal dialogue. You know, the part of the brain that just prattles on about shit? The voice we can’t control or shut off? The one that obsesses over the car payment when you’re trying to meditate? The one that just told me I ask too many questions??? Yessss…. THAT one!!
Gratefulness. Awareness. Internal Dialogue. Living in the Moment.
The answer is sprinkled with all those and that’s what I’m working towards. I want to live a life of AWARENESS, not avoidance. I want to live in the JOY of the moment, not the worry of the future or the regret of the past. I want to be GRATEFUL for what I have. I want to temper that rude voice in my head.
Meanwhile, my husband will patiently continue to remind me, “The words you’re looking for are ‘THANK YOU'”, when he overcooks my eggs and forgets the honey in my tea.
I SWEAR, that man is IMPOSSIBLE to live with!