Nov 26, 2020

Do you complain?

 Over the past few months, I have observed that I complain quite a bit about various issues. I haven't outpoured many of these complaints in public forums (blog, social media). Mostly, husband bore the brunt of my complaints sessions🙂

I'm glad at least I had the awareness that the rate of my complaining has increased. Being the analytical person I am, I initially thought I should keep count of the number of complaints in a day and then gradually decrease the count. But it was just too overwhelming to keep track and I discontinued it.

One conscious practice I'm trying to follow these days is to be aware whenever I get into complaining mode either with myself or with someone else. While I'm aware, I observe my thoughts and words. Just the fact that I'm being aware makes me more conscious and helps me pause and reflect.

I wouldn't say that I have put an end to this addictive habit, but the rate of complaining/cribbing has come down. 

Lack of gratitude is usually suggested as the reason why many of us complain about certain people/situations. Though it might be true, we have inherent biases that prevent us from focusing on the positives about certain people/situations from the past. Through the conscious practice of daily gratitude, we can overcome the effects of these default biases. But it is also worthwhile to understand the triggers behind such complaints. 

When I asked myself on many occasions, "Why am I complaining about this issue?", I realized that there were three common triggers that push me into this mode.
  1. I want to be in control of a situation. I want certain things to go as planned. If it goes haywire, I tend to complain about it.
  2. I want to be heard. Maybe, that's why I'm vocal about my thoughts and feelings. There is no point bottling up our feelings and then bursting out one fine day.
  3. I'm clear about my priorities, sometimes even fixated on them without giving any leeway for change. This has both pros and cons. If a person/situation comes in the way of executing my priorities, I get into complaining mode.
The point is not to JUDGE these triggers and classify them as right/wrong. All we need to do is to become aware of them.

Mark Manson in his article titled "Life is a video game. Here are the cheat codes" says,
Complaining takes a problem and then prolongs it.
How true! 

I understand this year has been tough for all of us. I'm sure some of us would have gotten into the complaining mode knowingly or unknowingly. There is no need to feel guilty about it. The main intention is not to put to an end to complaining altogether, which is a far-fetched goal. Let's try to understand what do we complain about and why we complain. This will give us insights into our deep-seated beliefs, wants and desires. Self-awareness is the key.

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