Sep 25, 2022

When we complain, the secondary message we are sending is "something better exists and I deserve it."

I deserve .... 
a better marriage.
more money.
a better job.
a better boss.
a nicer home. 
children who pick up after themselves.
a better body.
a raise
a different childhood
a more thoughtful partner
to be on a better tennis team.

But here's the kicker...
Our complaints are often about things we can actually do something about, but we choose not to.  

You can single handedly improve your marriage, make more money, find a new boss/job/home, improve your body, set yourself up for a raise, reframe your childhood, be more thoughtful with your partner, hyper focus on improving your tennis game so you can be on a better team, etc... 

But when we stay in complaint mode we are choosing not to do anything about them.
We are choosing to take no responsibility.
We are choosing to stay put.
It's easier to complain than to take action.  

Because making things better requires a change and change often requires an action risk and our brains are not wired for risks. They are wired for safety, pleasure and efficiency. Complaining satisfies all three. 

Sure, you can go out in the world and find a new partner, but you may end up alone, or it may take a long time, or your new partner may present with something new to complain about.
You can quit your job and start a search, but you may find underemployment, the same situation in a new company, make less money, a worse boss. 
You can come up with a plan to make more money but it may involve getting a second job, or selling things you love, or positioning yourself for a well earned raise and maybe you don't really want to make these efforts.

In other words, you may fail. 
You may receive disapproval from people you respect. 
You may have to work more, harder, get honest with yourself. 
You may be wrong. 
So, it's easier to just swim in the complaint ocean and appear that you are the victim of the situation. 

If you are ready to reduce and then stop complaining here are three ideas:


  1. First, stop hanging out with complainers. Simple. When the conversation turns to complaining step aside or offer an alternative or notice and don't engage. 
  2. Second, ask where you can take responsibility for the situation you are in. Spoiler alert - if you are game to take 100% responsibility you will get far more creative, produce results you like way faster, and build your empowerment muscles. 

Third, write out your complaint and then come up with 10 ways you could solve for it. 

Example. I deserve a better marriage.
Ten things I can do about this.

  1. leave the marriage,
  2. go to therapy,
  3. read a book about marriage,
  4. invite a couple whose marriage you admire to mentor your husband and you
  5. ask your husband what you could do to be a stronger, kinder, more loving wife, 
  6. have an affair
  7. ignore the marriage and let it continue to underwhelm you
  8. demand your husband change
  9. dedicate one week to noticing all that is good about your marriage
  10. go on a marriage retreat

When you do this you shine a light on what you can do.
You remind yourself you have choices.
You see on paper how you could take actions that will help and others that may harm, absolutely no judgment, just great to notice. 

Game for a complaint fast? 
I've suggested this before and the feedback was outstanding. 
What if you committed to NO complaining for one day, or one week. None. 
When you catch yourself, just put a pin in it.
Or write down the complaint and do the above exercise. 

I'd love to hear how this experience shifts your inner world. 
Where you may become more clear that you have the fortunate position of taking 100% responsibility not what has happened that created the complaint, but for your role in it. 

Big hugs, 

P.S. If you are ready to make some changes, take a risk, take 100% responsibility let's chat.  There is extraordinary freedom on the other side of these decisions.